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.