I don’t really follow Pope Francis; however, as a Catholic I certainly regard the Pope with the respect and honor due his position as successor to Peter.
What I do read about him, I tend to get from my friends. He seems to be loved or hated and certainly has made people sit up and take notice.
I also don’t watch the news in general or read much on the Internet – secular, Catholic or otherwise. I am not on Facebook and I don’t do Twitter. I’ve made a conscious effort in the past couple of years to purposely reduce the chaos of the world by limiting my exposure to it so that my own world now feels purer and a whole lot more peaceful.
Amidst that peace, I’ve recently begun researching “Sophia” for my third and final fiction book in a series that started with Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage. I share this because my research about this seemingly elusive, somewhat mystical, and definitely female Sophia/Wisdom/Mother keeps crossing paths with what I’ve read about Pope Francis. Francis continues to enter into my quiet world in a calm, wise, even motherly sort of way.
Let me explain.
At her essence, Sophia is the wisdom that runs throughout Scripture – yet that small acknowledgement leaves so much to be desired. King Solomon sought her and was richly rewarded; Hildegard of Bingen sang her praises; Mother Julian of Norwich wrote about her when she said that God is both our Father and our Mother. Echoing this mystical sentiment, Sophia was given passing credit in 1978 by John Paul I when he made an astonishing reference to the idea of divine motherhood. In a Sunday Angelus address he said, “God is our Father; even more God is our Mother.”
Even more, God is our Mother.
It was a profound, brave statement; one that did not get the attention it deserved. One that wasn’t unpacked and contemplated like it should have been.
As I research Sophia, I can’t help but see Pope Francis as the possible embodiment of her. I keep reflecting on what I am learning about Sophia and the prophetic words of John Paul I: …even more God is our Mother.
Lacking the language to flesh out the idea of “God is our Mother,” we can still begin to see how Pope Francis may well be the prophetic fulfillment. In Pope Francis we see the possibility that “God is our Mother” is a truth whose time has possibly come. Is Pope Francis ushering in the manifestation of Sophia – the groundwork that was laid by Christian mystics and more concretely captured when John Paul I said “even more God is our Mother?”
I even marvel at the Pope’s name which is both masculine and feminine.
The words and actions of Pope Francis in light of the “God is our Mother” possibility make us contemplate important questions: What is a mother if not a healer of relationships and a pursuer of righteousness for all? Isn’t the ideal mother one who wishes all her children to be in harmony? Does a mother not run to those most in need? Will a loving mother not admonish her children to be kind and prudent in their words and in their deeds?
Is it not in a mother’s nature to create a home where the spirit of the law prevails? She doesn’t throw out the letter of the law but her heart always reflects the spirit of it.
Indeed, we know that a mother is more apt to speak from her heart instead of her head. When she does, her words are not diluted by too much reason for they erupt from the love she has for her children. Often, she is raw emotion responding to the meekest and most in need. She reaches out to all from the depths of her compassion; everything she says and does is wrapped in concern, passion and love.
Sophia, Wisdom, Mother – known by so many names – is one of them Pope Francis?
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.