He has been found in the strangest places, doing the most unexpected things. This week found him praying with the president Iran. Three weeks ago, he promulgated a book of common prayers to mark the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran catholic split, in preparation for a trip to Switzerland. Before that, he was found praying at a synagogue in Rome. Thursday found him meeting with Leonardo DiCaprio. Last week found him officially allowing the washing of the feet of women as part of the Holy Thursday ritual. There was a picture on face book of him with a cafeteria tray going through the cafeteria line, just like everyone else. In all those places people ask: “What is he doing here?” And then they ask: “what is he doing here?” Some want to ride him out on a rail. Others believe he is the best thing to happen to the church in a long time. Despite both criticism and applause, Pope Francis continues to shepherd this church according to that inner compass and mandate. It is amazing where love will lead you, if you let it.
He was also found in the strangest places –
•dinners with tax collectors
•in the company of prostitutes
•with common people, teaching and instructing
•with lepers, the sick, the infirm
• in front of court officials, Pilate, the High Priests
•on a hillside called Golgotha
• in a stone cold tomb
Is this not the carpenter’s son? What is he doing here? What is he doing here? Amazing where love will lead you – if you let it.
Could you come, my mother has just died.
Could you come, our daughter just moved in with her boyfriend and we’re not dealing so well with that.
Could you come, we need someone to give a talk to some teenagers
Could you come, my life feels so empty, – I don’t feel like it is worth going on…
Isn’t this Fred and Mary’s Son? Didn’t he go to Prep South? Isn’t he the pastor of the Newman Center? What’s he doing there? What is he doing there? It is amazing where love will lead you, if you let it.
Jeremiah says: “Before you were formed in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I dedicated you, -a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” For Jeremiah, that was a difficult journey. He was not a popular prophet. Through failure and rejection, all the while still being faithful to the message, he continued to speak as God invited him to. And it wasn’t until the end of his journey – as he is on his way to Egypt – that he realizes there has been a greater plan. “I have made you prophet to the NATIONS.” Isn’t this Jeremiah the prophet? What is he doing here? What is he doing here? Going where love leads him.
It is still amazing where love will lead you, if you let it.
Where will you let love lead you? That’s the invitation given in today’s readings – to go with God – to hear God say to us as he said to Jeremiah: “I send you!” To be willing to say not the easy things people like to hear, but the challenging things that they need to hear.
It is why they wanted to ride Jesus out on a rail – because he kept moving where love led him – dinners with tax collectors, in the company of prostitutes, with workmen, common people – even to God forsaken places like Calvary. And it was too much for them… It is why some people want to ride Pope Francis out on a rail. You wrote an encyclical on the environment? You prayed with Protestants and the head of an Islamist state? You challenged your own curia to live simply and to put service ahead of self?
Yet, Jesus walked right through their midst. As does the Pope. You see, love does that. Only love has that kind of power in a life – only love allows you to walk into places charged with anger; places full of despair; places that seem God forsaken and be God’s presence. Paul tells us so profoundly: “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” in the one who chooses to live it.
Will you go where love leads you? It won’t always be easy. You won’t always be liked. Or appreciated. Or understood. But, you will be God’s servant! Will YOU let love bear and believe and hope and endure all things in you?