The pope said he’s not God

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April 1, 2018 was Easter and the first time in 62 years to fall on April 1.

It certainly was a memorable day for me. The special program depicting several views and beliefs of Pope Francis I was riveting. It brought back a poignant event.

A couple years ago Stella and I were on a cruise and became friends with the head waiter in the buffet. He was from Argentina and a Catholic.

Obviously, Pope Francis became a topic of conversation. Jose, his name, asked me if I knew that before he was a priest, he was a bouncer in a bar. I did not.

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Jose then asked me if I knew that he had also been a world class tango dancer. I didn’t. I thought I knew a lot about Pope Francis, but he told me several more things about him. He was a scientist. He had taught chemistry in the University and he had several girlfriends. Wow!!

He played several sports but was not very good at any of them.

But the information that blew my mind away, very few people know about. Jose told us that when he was about ten years old, he and his parents attended the first parish that the Pope was a priest.

He had a distinctive nickname. Behind his back, he was called El Toro, The Bull.

Furthermore, Jose said, “no one messed with him. The Vatican will learn that.”

I’m sure you can tell that I admire Pope Francis. I’ve even sent him one of my books, and he responded with a letter.  From the articles and books I have that he has written, I’ve gleaned several of his statements. Here are a few.

  1. In response to the gays in the Catholic Church he said, “Who am I to judge; I’m not God.”
  2. “The message of Jesus is mercy.”
  3. “Good never gets tired of forgiving.”
  4. “Seeking happiness in material things is a sure way to being unhappy.”
  5. “You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven.”
  6. “Money has to serve and not to rule.”
  7. “Gratitude is a flower that blooms in noble souls.”
  8. “Mercy is the power that can save humanity.”
  9. “The secret of Christian living is love. Only love fills the empty spaces”

The second memorable event for me on Easter was an illustration that Dr. Jill Kushner-Rose gave at the conclusion of her sermon. I was so moved; I asked her if it was really true. She verified its authenticity. She is the senior pastor of the Redlands United Church of Christ.

Doug Cogue is a minister and his friend is Bob. They were having breakfast and Bob said “Doug, I just read in the Bible that if we ask anything, it will be given to us.  Do you believe all that foolishness?”

Doug said, “Sure, I believe it. Why don’t you give it a try? Pray for something and see what happens.” Bob had never prayed for anything before. He said, “O.K. I think I’ll pray for Africa.” Doug responded by suggesting he narrow it a bit. Bob said, “All right. I’ll pray for Kenya.”

Now, the conversation gets dicey. Doug says, “Have you ever been to Kenya?” “No. I just want to pray for Kenya.” So, Doug says, “All right, Bob, I will make you a deal, —you pray for Kenya everyday for 6 months and if nothing happens, I will pay you $500.00. BUT, if something remarkable happens, then you pay me $500.00. If you don’t pray every day for 6 months, then the deal is off.”

By this time, Dr. Jill had my full attention. I’ve been all over Kenya. Bob prays for Kenya for 3 months and nothing remarkable happens. One night he is at a banquet in Washington D. C. At his table, as usual, the topic turns to what the people do for a living. One lady says she helps to oversee a medical facility/orphanage in Kenya. Bob roars to life and begins asking her many questions, one after another. She finally breaks in and says to him; “You’re obviously very interested in what I’m doing. Have you been to Kenya?” No. “Would you like to come and visit?” and Bob says, “Yeah.”

Bob gets on a plane and flies to Nairobi, Kenya. He is appalled with the suffering and pain. After returning to Washington he writes letters to multi-million-dollar medical companies who have millions of unsold products and tells them of the suffering in Kenya. The companies send millions of dollars’ worth of medical supplies because of Bob.

He is invited back again to Kenya and meets the President and he invites Bob to be his guest. They visit a prison and Bob is told they are political prisoners. Bob tells the President that it was a bad idea. They should be freed. What a marvelous story.

Several weeks later Bob is contacted by the U.S. State Department and is informed the prisoners have been released. The U.S. had been working for years for it and the Kenyan President said it was because of Bob. Can you guess who received $500.00?

Thank you, Dr. Jill, for this story.

Amen. Selah So be it.


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