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Pope Francis Makes Me Uncomfortable

September 15, AD 2015 26 Comments

2014 Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to Korea Closing Mass for Asian Youth Day August 17, 2014 Haemi Castle, Seosan-si, Chungcheongnam-do Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Korean Culture and Information Service Korea.net (www.korea.net) Official Photographer : Jeon Han This official Republic of Korea photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way. Also, it may not be used in any type of commercial, advertisement, product or promotion that in any way suggests approval or endorsement from the government of the Republic of Korea. If you require a photograph without a watermark, please contact us via Flickr e-mail. --------------------------------------------------------------- 교황 프란치스코 방한 제6회 아시아 청년대회 폐막미사 2014-08-17 충청남도 서산시 해미읍성 문화체육관광부 해외문화홍보원 코리아넷 전한I have a confession to make. Well, if you read the title of this post, you already know, but here it is again: Pope Francis makes me uncomfortable.

I know that as a Catholic I am probably not supposed to say that (or feel that way), but it’s true. Ever since he was elected Pope, he has made me uncomfortable.

It started with hearing “first Jesuit Pope” and seeing this humble man meekly waving from the balcony, and it has continued throughout his papacy.

Every time I see him in the news, or trending on Facebook or Twitter, my first thought is, “Oh no, what does the media think he said this time?”

After that wears off, I begin to wonder, “Wait, what did he actually say?”

And then it usually hits me square in the face: “Is he speaking to me?”

At first, I thought my discomfort stemmed from the media’s portrayal of our beloved leader, but I came to realize that it was more than that. He makes me uncomfortable because he is challenging me, personally, to encounter Christ and His Church in a whole new way.

I have decided that it’s a good thing that he makes me uncomfortable.  Honestly, he should make all of us uncomfortable. A leader who makes people feel comfortable can’t lead very effectively.

As Pope Benedict said, “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”

We were not made for comfort. I have to let that sink in sometimes, especially when something comes along that throws me out of my comfort zone. We were not made for comfort. We were made for greatness.

We are called, as Christians by our baptism, to be challenged.  We are then called to challenge the world by our love and faith.  Christ radically challenged the world, and so should the Vicar of Christ here on earth.  Christ asked the disciples to leave all comforts behind and to follow Him, and He asks us to do the same today.  In the same way, as leader of Christ’s Church, Pope Francis is also called to make us uncomfortable, just as Jesus did and continues to do today.

I’m eagerly and anxiously anticipating Pope Francis’s arrival to the United States. I’m excited to hear how he challenges our country to step out of our comfort zones, but I’m also uncomfortable about what he will say that will speak directly to me, challenging me in a new and radical way. Pope Francis reminds us that we do not live in a safe Catholic bubble, but rather we are striving for the Kingdom as we live in the world. He challenges us to step out of that safe bubble and bring Christ to the world.  Yes, it will be uncomfortable at times. But by accepting this discomfort, we will find the peace that God promises us, because we were made for greatness.

About the Author:

Liesl is a single Catholic woman who hails from the great state of Ohio, but now resides in the just-as-great state of Virginia. She graduated from Miami University in Ohio with a B.S. in Chemistry and a minor in English Literature in 2009 and from The George Washington University with a M.Sc. in Chemistry in 2011. She spends her days working for the government, and her evenings figuring out what to cook for dinner. In her free time, she enjoys music, running, thrifting, baking, cheering on the Washington Nationals, singing about being sixteen going on seventeen, and making people laugh. You can find her at her blog The Spiritual Workout or on twitter @LieslChirps.
  • St. Karl Marx of Assisi

    Don’t pay attention to him. Read your Bible. KNOW your Bible. Too much emphasis on humans and we, Catholics, are neglecting God and Jesus, the Creator who created people like Bergoglio. How much do you know about your Bible? Don’t read it as you read a novel. Meditate its words. Once you discover it, you discover God and nothing else will matter. That’s the point of Creation and of the Bible and religion: to KNOW God, not the pope. There is no confusion in the Bible. God will not make you uncomfortable.

    • johnnysc

      Except that there are many who claim to ‘know’ their Bible and they all ‘know’ it differently. If the Bible was intended to be the sole instrument of the teachings of Jesus then wouldn’t it have been an important part of the Bible? How did Jesus provide for His teachings to be passed on? He founded the Catholic Church and gave it the authority to go into all the world and preach. God’s Word comes to us through Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. If you want to fully know God then you need to be in the Church that He founded, the Catholic Church. How much more of a personal relationship can one have with Jesus then to partake of the Sacraments He instituted for us, especially the Eucharist.

      “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

      • St. Karl Marx of Assisi

        At one point the Church did her job of transmitting. Now it’s up to the individual to grow in faith, not in church gossip, not in pews chit-chat, not in internal church fights, not in venerating individuals and elevating them to an astonishing higher level than their Creator. If Jesus was walking St. Peter’s Square, people would still cheer and “adore” Bergolgio and ignore his Creator. I might exaggerate a bit, but just to illustrate my point. Focus on your personal relationship with God, then you can go out in the community to put it in practice. Don’t call anybody “father” because you have only one Father. Read a Catholic Bible, but read it carefully, read the side notes and all the references. And meditate on it.

      • johnnysc

        Any personal relationship with Jesus must also include the Church that He founded, the Catholic Church. Indeed they are One and the Same. You are very much mistaken that the Church is no longer needed. That is why Jesus said the gates of hell will not prevail against it. A key mission given to the Church by Christ is the salvation of souls. The Catholic Church gave us the Bible as just one instrument in carrying out that mission. The Graces we receive from the Sacraments that Jesus instituted for us is another. Hence the reason Jesus instituted the priesthood. Every Bible is a Catholic Bible. Unfortunately there are those who went against the Word of God and manipulated His Word to conform to their personal whim.

        It does no good to meditate on the Word of God if you are getting it wrong. Indeed one could memorize from cover to cover and it doesn’t mean a thing if you give yourself the authority which Jesus gave the Catholic Church. By what authority do you get to interpret Scripture for us? Did you not call your father ‘father’?

      • samton909

        So no one can call their biological father “father”? So, you should go up to your dad and say “you’re not my father”?

      • JTLiuzza

        You are steeped in age old error and arrogantly instruct others to read and meditate. I am so tired of protestant blather and stupidity. How is it that you cannot see that the vile protestant heresy makes absolutely no sense?

      • Alison O’Konski

        “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”, BUT remember “the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” I don’t have to point out where these quotes are in the Bible if you know it already. The Church is the truth that Jesus left us, the Bible is good to study so you can be familiar with Jesus and have a “personal relationship”. Yes, a relationship with Him is essential, but so is a relationship with His Church! A member of the body cannot function without the rest of the body.

    • Thomas Sharpe

      The pope is the successor of Peter.
      Christ is in charge-

      It takes great faith in Christ to remain in His Church sometimes. Why did He say that the gates of hell would not prevail against It?
      -because he knew there would be times when it would appear otherwise.

      If it weren’t for the Popes and the Church, you wouldn’t have a Bible.

    • Liesl

      I take issue with your statement that God will not make you uncomfortable. Jesus talks many times (in the Bible!) about picking up our crosses and following him; about how if we follow him, we will suffer. If that isn’t the ultimate definition of uncomfortable, I don’t know what is.

      • St. Karl Marx of Assisi

        I don’t think you understand. Jesus is clear, this Bergoglio is not.

      • Liesl

        Clarity and discomfort are not mutually exclusive. Someone can be clear about what he is asking you to do, but what he is asking can still cause you to be uncomfortable.

        And I don’t think we can really say that Jesus is clear. If He was completely transparent, then why do we have tens of thousands of Christian denominations? Why do we have millions of interpretations of the Bible, if you rely on that alone?

        I also didn’t say anything about Pope Francis being clear. I certainly wish he spoke more clearly sometimes. I think it needs to be pointed out that it appears you have assumed that I follow Pope Francis around like he’s a pop star, or worship him like a god. That is certainly not the case. Pope Francis is to help lead us all to a closer relationship with God as the leader of the Church. That is his mission. He makes me uncomfortable at times because he is challenging me to be a better Christian and to develop a better relationship with God.

      • sleepy

        i agree – Jesus was perfectly clear in saying we are to be uncomfortable by our carrying our own cross…

    • JTLiuzza

      “There is no confusion in the Bible”

      The tired old “sola scriptura” heresy raises it’s ugly (and rather stupid) head. 40,000 “bible believing” protestant denominations later…

    • davidgary1

      Catholics do read the Bible- we gave it to you Protestants. And we all know the Pope is just a man but he is full of good advice and his only purpose is to direct us to Christ Jesus.

  • Yes, this Pope is definitely calling us to action and out of our comfort zones! It reminds me a lot of the second reading this weekend from James, about faith without works being dead!

  • Maggie Sullivan

    The Pope kinda makes me feel like sin doesn’t matter……….

    • Liesl

      I think the media completely ignores anything he says about sin, and so I’ve gotten that impression too. I think he focuses a lot on mercy – sometimes I wish he would also talk more about WHY we need mercy 😉

      • sleepy

        we ALL need mercy… it is up to each one to decide for himself that it is so, before he can receive the Mercy Jesus has for us…

  • Thomas Sharpe

    The Holy Spirit brings comfort to the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.

    This Pope does make me feel uncomfortable at times.
    Because I would be comforted by clarity.. .in charity.

    When he arrives in the US, will the Planned Parenthood videos be mentioned? Or will it be global warming?

    Don’t get me wrong he is the Pope, I just wish he would be CLEAR about things that really matter and are within his Authority.

    • Liesl

      That’s why I’m really intrigued to hear what he says to Congress – I’m hoping both the Planned Parenthood videos and the environment are mentioned – and so much more, of course.

  • sleepy

    Read your Bible, remembering it’s primary function as one of three equal legs of the Church. KNOW your Bible, by knowing your catechism.

    How much do you know about your Bible? Don’t read it as
    you read a novel. Meditate on its words, paying attention to St Paul as he tells disciples to LISTEN to God’s words, not merely read them. Once you discover it, you discover
    God and nothing else will matter.

    That’s the point of Creation and of
    the Bible and of the Church: to KNOW God through service of the poor, care to the elderly, life above all to people from conception to their natural death.

    There is ample confusion
    in the Bible – that’s where the protestants went wrong. God will make you uncomfortable as long as we try to be like Christ. Once we become comfortable, we know we have gone wrong.

  • Asmondius

    I don’t know, I doubt anyone living in the West at this point in history feels as though they are in a ‘safe Catholic bubble’.

    • Liesl

      When I was in graduate school, and spent most of my time at the Newman Center and with other devout Catholics, it was *very* easy to forget that my “safe Catholic bubble” was not what the world was like. So I think it very much depends on your situation in life and the environment that surrounds you!

      • Asmondius

        You are most probably right.

  • Alison O’Konski

    LOL, I read the title of your post and agreed with it. And then I thought to myself, “That’s not necessarily a BAD thing!” Then I read your post and, well… you hit the nail on the head! 🙂

  • LM

    Great title for this piece which drew me in out of curiosity, whereby I learned the reason for the discomfort and why Catholics should welcome it. Solid writing!