I stumbled upon this article in defense of Pope Francis’ meeting with Kim Davis this morning. It is a very powerful reminder, even in the face of the disheartening news we heard yesterday about the meeting of the message of Jesus.
The thing that we forget, that I have forgotten is that Jesus supposedly sat down with some pretty unsavory characters himself. And when arrested he healed the wounded ear of one of the Roman soldiers tasked to bring him in.
That’s the point of the whole “love your enemies” thing, isn’t it?
We also need to remember that we don’t really know the substance of the meeting between the two. We only know the “soundbite” that Davis’ people leaked to “Stay Strong.”
We don’t know the true context of what that statement REALLY meant.
For all we know, he MAY have read her the riot act about what she’s doing, and then LOVINGLY told her she needs to “Stay strong” as she comes to terms with the hurt she’s caused people. He may have suggested that she reflect on, what I believe is the message of Jesus, to “Love one another.”
Self examination of the harm we’ve done to ourselves and to others does, as any 12 stepper knows, requires a great deal of courage and strength. He may not have given her his tacit approval for her actions, but may have merely told her that strength will be required during this time… More than likely he even told her that God, Jesus, and he himself loved her.
And like countless movie posters will attest to, one positive seeming statement in an entirely negative movie review has often been used to serve the movie producer’s purpose. Kim Davis’ people may have purposefully taken the one seemingly “supportive” statement out of a lot of others for their own ends. Just like they did with the “Peru Prayer Picture,” over the weekend.
We love to put people on pedestals, as we did with the Pope last week, but we delight even more so in knocking them down, which we have proven in the last 24 hours since the news of the “secret meeting” leaked.
I’m not ready to throw the good, progressive things the Pope’s done away quite yet… Not until HIS side tells us what went on in that room. And even then, even if he DOES say he stands in agreement with her, what I deem evil and hate filled actions. I still will honor and respect those other things he has said and done. I refuse to throw the baby out with the bath water.
As a former Catholic, now a progressive protestant minister who is quite vocally in support of marriage equality, and who was excited by this new Pope, I admittedly feel stabbed in the back this week. But I am trying to remember the lesson presented in this article, as summed up by this quote,
“But the central idea of Christianity…(is) not about defining people within religious or political or even societal contexts. It’s about approaching them as fellow human beings, travelers on this planet who might spit in your face but still deserve grace and forgiveness.”
Not always easy, eh? I DO believe Jesus would have met with Kim Davis, or even Hitler for that matter. Not to approve of what they did, but to LOVE them.
That’s the redemptive power of sitting down with your enemies. With Loving them.
How else do you think Jesus, or the Pope for that matter would “get through” to someone, to help them? By confronting them with love instead of hate.
I’m reminded of a story I heard on NPR’s “This American Life” about a black Jazz musician named Daryl Davis, who befriended the head of the Klu Klux Klan. You can find an excellent version of the story here;
Jesus commanded us to love our enemies… But the first step in doing that is often simply sitting down and talking with them.
As Daryl Davis so poignantly reminds us,
“When two enemies are talking, they’re not fighting.”
I pray that I’m right about this, that we’ve jumped to conclusions about the substance of this meeting; That this was NOT the Pope giving his blessing on her unloving and un Christ like behavior, but a compassionate act of Christ’s love, even for His enemies in action… Only time will tell.