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Jesus Without The Junk: Setting the Bar Higher

By: Molly Painter

By all appearances, the 266th pope is turning out to be one like no other.  Though he has only been in office two weeks, he has managed to stun the world by breaking with Church tradition and conservatives are upset.
Francis took his name after a close friend, hearing he was elected, told him not to forget the poor.  Shortly thereafter, in one of his first speeches, whom does he mention first?  He urged the world to defend the poor and the weak.  “What a man,” I thought.
The pope can live wherever he wants but Francis chooses to live, not in the magnificent living quarters of the Apostolic Palace, but instead, in a Vatican guesthouse (he said, “I don’t need all this space”) where he can communally live with others.  He is the first pope in 110 years to break with papal living conditions.  Again, I thought, “What kind of Church leader is this man shaping up to be?”
Tradition calls for the pope to go to St. John Basilica and wash the feet of 12 priests, in keeping with Jesus’ act of washing the disciples’ feet the day before He went to the cross.  But what has caused some in the Church to go into a tailspin is when Francis went to a detention center instead and washed, dried and kissed the feet of 12 youths.  He told the group “I am at your service” and “Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope.”  He bowed down before them on stone and washed black, white and female feet.  Laymen’s feet have been washed before but never have women been included in this ritual. 
Pope Francis has “freaked out” the masses by some of his actions so far.  I say he is a humble and decent man who is doing away with pomp and circumstance in order to get the Church and world’s attention.  He is leading by example and I think the surprises have only just begun.
…inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.  Matthew 25:40