According to Pope Francis | Msgr.
Daniel B. Gallagher | Catholic World Report
It’s not a banana smoothie, but a transforming encounter with Jesus Christ, here and now
Papa Francisco is full of surprises. You never know what’s going to come out of his mouth, but it often has something to do with what goes in. “Buon pranzo” (have a good lunch) has become his signature sign off. This summer, he shook things up in Rio by insisting that faith is not a banana smoothie. “Please, do not put your faith in Jesus Christ in a blender. You can have orange smoothies, apple smoothies, banana smoothies, but please, do not gulp down a ‘faith-shake.’ Faith is a whole; you can’t mix it up in a blender.”
So if faith is not a banana smoothie, what is it? September has provided plenty of answers.
Even though the 13th of September marked the sixth-month anniversary of Francis’s election to the papacy, it was not the most important anniversary of the month. That occurred on September 21st, the Feast of Saint Matthew, when Francis commemorated the sixtieth anniversary of his call to the priesthood. Francis recounted the events of that extraordinary day to young people in Cagliari this past Sunday. Those events took place after the seventeen-year-old Jorge made a confession and talked with a priest at the parish of San Jose in Buenos Aires. His episcopal and now papal motto – miserando atque eligendo – recalls the experience with words taken from the Venerable Bede and appearing in the Office of Readings on the Feast of Saint Matthew. Quoting from Paul’s First Letter to Timothy, Bede writes: “‘For Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners; but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.’ Thus Jesus saw the tax collector, and since he saw him by having mercy and by choosing, he said to him, ‘follow me.’ But to follow means to imitate. ‘To follow’ does not mean so much by foot as by one’s way of life (executione morum).”
In the recent interview published in the Jesuit publication Civiltà Cattolica, Francis points out the difficulty in translating the Latin gerund miserando. Perhaps “pitying” is close in English, but even that fails to catch the import of the Lord’s infinite power to forgive and its inextricable connection with “calling.” Where language falls short, Francis uses an image. He explains that Jesus’ outstretched finger in Caravaggio’s The Call of Matthew points at him in the same way it points at Matthew. “I am a sinner upon whom the Lord has cast His gaze,” Francis says. The same sense of sinfulness overcame him the moment he was elected to succeed Benedict XVI. When the tally came in, he calmly whispered, “Peccator sum, sed super misericordia et infinita patientia Domini nostri Jesu Christi confisus et in spiritu penitentiae accepto” (I am a sinner, but relying on the mercy and infinite patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, in a spirit of repentance, I accept).
Francis’s interview with fellow Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J., gives us a unique insight into not only his rich theology of faith, but his personal experience of faith.