By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Religious Professional v. Jesus

The Pharisees and the Saduccees Come to Tempt ...
The Pharisees and the Saduccees Come to Tempt Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I do not find the religious professional type appealing at all--and I am a Catholic who attends Mass weekly! So I can imagine how the exclusively secular person must react. So what do I mean by the "religious professional type"? 

I can best define the type by contrast with our present Pope Francis who constantly exhibits a sincere (read: not politician-style) warmth for all, especially for the most vulnerable. In contrast, the religious professional type impresses me as nothing to write home about: he or she has picked this job, as a teacher decides to teach but with no real warmth for the most challenging of students.

We see the contrast in the Gospels: the religious professional types (many, but not all, Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees) can't relate to the Jesus who travels, without status, teaching, healing, and counseling people whom the religious professionals would rather avoid for one reason or another.

Unfortunately, many who have dedicated their lives to being religious professionals pretty much follow the path of those Pharisees and scribes. And, yes, we have some religious professional types that the media loves and whose personalities "effervesce" in the opinion of many; but that Dale Carnegie effervescence, frankly, leaves me cold because it lacks the attractive profundity of identifying with the least of these.

Our broad intuition about people is often sound. Notice the impact Pope Francis has already made in a handful of days. This impact is more profound than that of the religious celebrities that the media loves to present. The gentle, humble solidarity with the least is charisma in the fullest sense of the term. We already have the other type of superficial "political" charisma in abundance among secular celebrities. There is no need for the religious to duplicate it. I hope that the contrast offered by Pope Francis has a dramatic affect on how we Catholics view our other leaders and on how our other leaders act. That change would be a great and needed paradigm shift.

And, frankly, all our efforts to reach others with a religious message will flounder if we take the "religious professional" approach. That movie was screened centuries ago, and the non-professional was the hero.
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