pope selfieUnless you’ve been living under a rock or off planet for a while, you’ve probably heard by now that Time Magazine named Pope Frances (affectionately nicknamed “The People’s Pope”) their 2013 Person of the Year.  I’m not catholic, but I think I might actually be in love with this pope.  Never in my life have I been more impressed with a popular religious leader.  Oh sure, I’ve meet ministers over the years who I have admired and felt like they were following the footsteps of Christ but they were generally small time local ministers.  For me it has always seemed like once a minister got to a certain level they lost touch with real people and become this quai-political figure head.

In his article “I Knew Pope Francis Was Good, But When I Found Out Everything He Did in 2013, I Was Blown Away” Mark Pygas list several things the Pope has done since assuming his position that makes him a different Pope than what we were used to.

1. He spoke out against frivolous spending by the Church

2. He invited a boy with Down’s Syndrome for a ride in the Popemobile

3. He embraced and kissed Vinicio Riva (a man scarred by a genetic disease.)

4. He denounced the judgment of homosexuals

5. He held a major ceremony at the chapel of a youth prison

6. He urged the protection of the Amazon Rainforest

7. He personally called and consoled a victim of rape

8. He snuck out of the Vatican to feed the homeless

9. He auctioned his motorcycle to benefit the homeless

10. He acknowledged that atheists can be good people

11. He condemned the global financial system

12. He fought child abuse

13. He condemned the violence of the Syrian civil war

14. He redirected employee bonuses to charity

15. He spoke out against the Church’s ‘obsession’ with abortion, gay marriage and contraception

16. He called for cooperation between Christians and Muslims

17. He took part in a selfie

18. He invited homeless men to his birthday meal

19. He refused to send away a child who had run on stage to hug him

The thing that is so cool about this list is there is nothing on here that you and I can’t do.  There is nothing that is a Pope-only responsibility.  All these are things that the everyday person can emulate.  Time Magazine might not come beating down your door next year, but you could be “Person of the Year” to the people in your sphere of influence.  Let’s personalize the Pope’s action list.

1. He spoke out against frivolous spending by the Church.  If you belong to a church get involved.  You can’t be a benchwarmer letting the pastor and elders take care of everything then complain when the church is heading down a road you don’t approve.

2. He invited a boy with Down’s Syndrome for a ride in the Popemobile. There’s a parent in your sphere of influence who has a child with special needs.  Ask him/her how you can help.

3. He embraced and kissed Vinicio Riva (a man scarred by a genetic disease.)  There is someone in your world who is hurting and probably feels ostracized.  Invite them to your home for dinner.

4. He denounced the judgment of homosexuals.  Don’t join in on the anti-homosexual rhetoric.  Better yet, when you hear it, take a moment to share the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery…..”He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone” (John 8:7).

5. He held a major ceremony at the chapel of a youth prison.  Contact the youth detention center closest to you and find out how you can get involved.

6. He urged the protection of the Amazon Rainforest.  Begin by becoming more environmentally conscious in your home and office.  Read more to educate yourself on the issues then get involved.

7. He personally called and consoled a victim of rape.  Find out how you can get involved with a rape hotline or women’s shelter in your area.

8. He snuck out of the Vatican to feed the homeless.  Feed the homeless.

9. He auctioned his motorcycle to benefit the homeless.  There is plenty of stuff around your house you don’t need or use.  Hold a yard sell and donate the money to the poor.

10. He acknowledged that atheists can be good people.  Make friends with non-believers without the goal of trying to convert them.

11. He condemned the global financial system. Opt out of this consumer crazy world.  Stop making purchases of things you don’t truly need.  Stop paying for things with credit cards.  Stop the accumulation of stuff.

12. He fought child abuse.  Find out how you can get involved with a child abuse support group in your area.

13. He condemned the violence of the Syrian civil war.  Speak out against war.  Don’t support politicians who support war and write your representative or senator to make your opinion known.

14. He redirected employee bonuses to charity.  Make a commitment to donate any extra money you get (bonuses, rebates, refunds, gifts) to charity for the year.

15. He spoke out against the Church’s ‘obsession’ with abortion, gay marriage and contraception.  Don’t let the political climate of the far right cloud Jesus’ message of love.  Make an effort to put people first over issues.

16. He called for cooperation between Christians and Muslims.  Make friends from a different religion.

17. He took part in a selfie.  Have fun and enjoy life.  Let the people around you see your love of life.

18. He invited homeless men to his birthday meal.  Invite someone who is having a hard time to your home for dinner.

19. He refused to send away a child who had run on stage to hug him.  Invest in the life of a child.

Obviously you are not the Pope.  You’ve got a full-time job, a family, and non-religious obligations to tend to.  But if you could take a couple of items from the list and work them, you’d be off to an awesome 2014!

pope feet washing