The Way of Beauty Pope Francis: Missionary of Mercy and Peace

The warm familial approach of Pope Francis imitates the way Jesus was present to others. The early disciples followed Jesus because he spoke the truth with mercy, a message of compelling beauty.  They followed Jesus because he went about performing deeds of mercy while offering a message of compelling beauty.  His disciples were willing to die for him and his message.

This week Pope Francis will experience the eagerness of public figures who will jockey with others for a place near him, if only for a few minutes. They will see the greatest moral leader in the world today speak of this world gone mad, engulfed in violence, rancor, and bloodshed.  He comes as a missionary of mercy and peace.

The Orchestral Conductor Compared to the Roman Pontiff 

A symphony orchestra is made distinctive by its conductor, who, though part of the orchestra, acts primarily as its public face and official spokesperson. As the symbol of the orchestra's structure and stability, conductors lead, direct, govern, and coordinate the orchestra.  The conductor functions like a director of traffic and learns the entire map of the musical highway.  The orchestra looks to the maestro for direction to make beautiful music.  

In the final analysis, all breathe together as one with the maestro's interpretation as the final word. The conductor leaves his imprint on the orchestra's reputation thus separating his orchestra from all others. 

Can a Symphony Orchestra Die?

The mission of the symphony orchestra is to uplift its audience and inspire it by the beauty of its musical expression.  If a sluggish, off-key orchestra ceases to play beautifully, it dies because it has failed to fulfill its mission.

The Church's Maestro

Like his predecessors, Pope Francis is to the Universal Church what a maestro is to a symphony orchestra. As the visible head of the Body of Christ, the Pope governs with his bishops. 

Instead of speaking out about difficult social and doctrinal issues, Pope Francis prefers a pastoral emphasis that places compassion before judgment.  Though he has a global reputation for speaking bluntly, there is neither edge nor rancor in his words. His emphasis is on yes instead of no, do rather than don't, honey, not vinegar. His message for the whole world is simple: 'God loves you.  Love others by performing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. God forgives you. Return home to God.' This hopeful and attractive message has not escaped the satirist Jon Stewart who is quoted as saying: "I'm converting. I love this guy."

According to reports in the Washington Post, while most Americans admire Pope Francis, the same cannot be said of the Church. Catholics note the stark difference in style between Francis and other clergymen.  Scandals have given the Church bad press, so bad in fact that, to this day, they remain burning issues for the secular media.

The analogy of maestro to the Roman Pontiff is important.  There are millions of former and disaffected Catholics across this country.  "The Francis effect" will do much to restore the Church so that it uplifts, inspires, and attracts.

Can the Church Die?

Can the Church die from within or be destroyed from without?  Jesus assured Peter, the rock on which he built the Church, that the powers of death would not prevail against it (Mt 16:18). Still, the human element can turn it into a lifeless and introverted entity.

Ours is a beautiful Church that assures eternal happiness.  Catholicism that becomes deformed and disfigured can only risk more defections, weaken the Church from within, and invite ridicule.  The Church's mission then is to draw others by proclaiming its truth and goodness with mercy, active compassion-and to do so beautifully.  

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