How ’bout it, Vatican?

In case you missed it, we have a new pope.   Even though I’m hardly a Vatican geek, I have to admit that it’s been a pretty exciting few days.  I like that he’s from Latin America, and that he’s a Jesuit (I have a thing for the Jesuits).   I also like the fact that this is a man who reportedly eschews the fancy mansion to live in a simple apartment, and who elects to travels by bus.  I have a feeling  Jesus would do the same.

Even the boys got swept up in the Popeapalooza.  When I picked up Matthew from school on Wednesday, he told me that he had seen the white smoke from his school playground.  (I suspect it was car exhaust, but I hated to burst his bubble.)   He was also full of questions about why it took so long to elect a pope.   I explained the process as best I could, but it didn’t impress him.  He had a better idea.

“They should have a competition to decide who gets to be Pope,” he said as we sat at a stoplight.

“What kind of competition?”

“A race.  Whoever gets to the finish line first gets to be Pope.”

“What do you think, Luke?” I asked, craning to look at him in the backseat.  “Should we choose our Pope based on a vote, or a race?”

“A race,” he said promptly.

So that’s two votes for change.

You have to admit, it’s an intriguing notion.   I imagine a few lanes full of cardinals,  in robes and running shoes,  waiting for a starting gun.    It makes me think of Isaiah 40: they will run and not grow weary.  Or maybe we could add a little New Testament twist of “the first shall be last,” and let the loser of the race become  Pope?  I think we’re onto something here.

But even though Pope Francis was chosen the old-fashioned, non-athletic way, it’s still momentous.  He will be in my prayers.   His election is a good reminder that all of us — pope or not — have a unique part to play in this busy world,  and that every day is a new chance to put the Gospel values into action.

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