VIVA la papa! Or in the colloquial tongue: “Long live the Pope”.
Despite not being a Catholic, it is hard not to get excited over the new church leader who has been popularly known to as “the simple Pope” (in the non-derogatory sense).
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the bus-catching first Pope from outside Europe since the 8th century, now represents one of the largest bodies of people in the world. The reason he is so interesting is not only his unadorned life and enduring work with the poor in Argentina, but the “mirror of justice” he holds up to our own society.
The name he picked for himself is Francis I, named after St. Francis of Assisi. This popular saint is well-known for taking on the life of a beggar in order to serve and preach without worldly distractions. The most famous story is when he strips naked in the centre of town to renounce his father’s wealth, announcing: “From now on, my Father in Heaven will provide all I need”.
We are now at the wealthiest time in history for the Western world, and the notion that we must continue to gain wealth and technology to be happy is, unfortunately, almost universally accepted.
However, the question I believe the Pope and St. Francis embody and challenge us with is: “How can I simplify my life?”.
Something within me reacts against such a question, as it goads me to sacrifice comfort. However, it is one that resonates deeply with that part of me that seeks true and simple happiness, and ultimately, I believe, God.
To be denominationally balanced, over the last few weeks our own Anglican bishop Stuart Robinson has led walks through all the coastal towns in this diocese carrying a giant, two-metre cross in an act of simplicity and humility this Easter. The aim was to travel through Bungendore and Goulburn, finishing in a final walk through Canberra at 5am on Easter Sunday.
This act, although early, cold and uncomfortable, speaks to me of this beautiful simplicity that encapsulates true meaning and hope to a hurting world.
So this Easter, I encourage you to consider such a significant personal challenge. Not seeking the sales, but simplicity. Not feasts as much as frugality. Not self, but sacrifice. It may not help the economy, but I believe through this “simple” question we may discover what it is to be truly blessed.
Nick Jensen is a director of the ACT Australian Christian Lobby.