(this is an old blog post written for my job that I thought was appropriate given the current events to share again)
So most of us know our latest Pope’s name, Benedict XVI (that’s sixteen!) … but do you know his name before that? Do you know where he was born? Did you know he is a genius?! It amazes me how sometimes we can say we know someone without really knowing them… kind of like friends on Facebook.
I think Facebook says I have 500 or so friends… but honestly, I probably talk to about maybe, MAYBE 40 of them in one month. And if we narrow that down to face to face conversations over a meal or an outing, it gets even smaller. Now, I don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing, but I think it is a real thing. I don’t think then that the other 450 on Facebook aren’t worth my time, or are there just to cushion my feelings of being popular and connected. I’m sure I can share a story about every single one of them.
But the reality is we can’t be close to everyone, all the time. I like to say there are circles of friends, and we don’t plot each other into them. It isn’t like I meet Jim and say to myself “BFF for life”. No… friendships develop over time, and they change. My best friend from grade 1 or grade 5 isn’t my best friend today – but they’re still dear friends of mine. My wife was a complete stranger to me seven years ago! I didn’t even know she existed! So it should be obvious people come and go between these circles of friends. Family, Dear Friends, Peers, Associates, and the World… there are many different levels we could place our various relationships.
If we say we know someone as a true friend, shouldn’t we be able to tell someone their name, where they are from, and something interesting about them… where we met, etc. My love for my wife only grew with getting to know her. It is in our becoming open to each other and sharing our stories that we come to a greater intimacy, a greater understanding and appreciation of one another.
This also can call us to examine our relationships. Do the people in our minds we value the most, our “inner circle”, reflect the reality of our circle of friends. How well do you know your parents, grandparents, life long friend, teacher, pastor, hollywood star. Do we find it awkward when we sometimes don’t know our siblings birthday, or where our parents/grandparents were born or their middle names? Yet we probably know how many goals Alex Ovechkin scored this year or the date for international talk like a pirate day? (September 19 if you’re wondering) Do we know more about the life of the people on the TV show Bachelor then the life of Jesus? It just makes sense that we should know more about the people we say we care about. I don’t think it is wrong to like TV shows, or follow hockey passionately (go HABS). But we need to be careful we don’t fool ourselves when the reality might be maybe I do value hockey over quality time with family and friends. Maybe I value my TV addiction a bit more than my faith. They are questions to think about.
So back to the pope to wrap this up…
So as Catholics we all know about the pope, we know he’s our leader, whom Christ has blessed to guide us and nurture us as a faith community. He has many great thoughts and suggestions to help us on our journey of faith. I used to think of the pope as kind of a boss. But when I went to World Youth Day I saw a man, Pope John Paul II, who simply wanted to love me. It might seem odd to you, but it is true. I finally got the idea that he just wanted me to experience God’s love and share it as much as possible just like he was doing. He wasn’t a watch dog, or a judge.
I now look at Pope Benedict and really look to him as a wise old grandfather. Because he cares for me – I cannot help but care for him; I want to know him. This is the root of our faith; to love and be loved. So when you have some free time, google the Pope Emeritus, and maybe get to know an old friend a bit better.
Check out this AWESOME video about B16!
Did you know Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI well? Who do you need to spend time with and get to know better?