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István KAMARÁS: Pope Francis His Legendry

2017.05.24

Pope Francis His Legendry       

(Ferenc pápa legendárium). Budapest, 2015. Egyházfórum Alapítvány. Luther kiadó,

 

(About this book)

 

            This book is a provocation.

            I wish to support this fact with a quotation from the Bible. Considering that the book is about the pope in Rome I quote the sentence first in Latin: “..et consideremus invicem in provocationem caritatis et bonum operum.” Then in translation: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:” (Hebrews 10, 24)

            In this respect both the author of the letter in the New Testament and István Kamarás, who calls himself joculator (or clown) of God, beyond doubt write as disciples of Jesus. Because the really great provocator was the Nazarene. Not only

because He had healed on the sabbath day, or because He confronted the pharisees with all their hypocrisy, or overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, but above all by the fact – and the ways! – of his love.

            It is about this love the author speaks, whose curved mirror shows the present state of our churches and society with plain sincerity.

            Budapest, 2015; on Reformation Day – to remember another great provocation.

                                                           Bishop Tamás Fabiny.

 


 

Refugee Nativity

(A chapter of Pope Francis His Legendry (Ferenc pápa legendárium). Budapest, 2015. Egyházfórum Alapítvány. Luther kiadó, pp. 11-16.)            

 

 

            Pope Francis had at heart the fate of the refugees coming to Italian shore from across the sea to the extent of preparing to receive them himself at Christmas 2013. All day he was walking up and down the sea-shore, reciting his breviary; then he tried to decipher the Alkoran with the help of a dictionary in order to be able to welcome the newcomers in Arabic. But nobody came until twilight, and the coast-guard commander did not expect further refugees any longer. So he asked pope Francis if the helicopter should be made ready to take him back to Rome. Pope Francis begged permission to stay a bit longer at the completely deserted shore which everybody left by then in haste, to celebrate Christmas at home. The commander tactfully mentioned the midnight mass, but pope Francis assured him: he had trusted a young Franciscan father with the task – giving great pleasure to him and the order. The commander helped pope Francis to light his candle, then – shaking his head – withdrew to his post.

            Just as pope Francis began the Angelus, a rough blast of wind came which, surprisingly, did not blow off his candle. “The wind of God’s spirit blows wherever it pleases,” - crossed his mind, but no further opportunity arose for meditation as events got revved up a good deal. A shaky small boat came ashore, and a man got out of/from it, followed by a woman with a baby in her arms. A shrill whistle was blown, the coast guard appeared in a moment, and an identity check got started – and got stuck quite soon, as the refugees spoke neither Italian, nor English. Fortunately, the commander remembered the two previous popes had greeted the crowd of the faithful in a huge number of languages on Easter Sunday, so he respectfully asked pope Francis for help. 

            So pope Francis, clad in white from top to toe, holding the candle, went up to the refugees. He smiled at them, held out his hand, then – searching his mind for words – addressed them in rather poor Arabic:

            - Good evening. Me pope Francis. Me shepherd.

            The man smiled, and tried some Italian:

            - Good evening. Me Yussuf. - then pointing to his wife: - Me woman Maryam. - then pointing to the infant: - Me child Issa.

            - He is Yussuf, in our language Joseph, his wife Maryam, in our language Mary, their child Issa, in our language Jesus – translated pope Francis.

            - All right, but what now? - asked the commander a bit embarrassed.

            - Warm clothes, warm food, warm reception – suggested pope Francis.

            The refugees had no luggage. The soldiers packed them and pope Francis on a jeep, and sped them to the headquarters hardly a hundred yards away.

            - I have sent the rest of the men home for their Christmas dinner – apologized the commander. - I did not expect further problems.

            Pope Francis assured him:

            - You were right. The problem – and he smiled – we will solve ourselves.

            The refugees got warm clothes and warm food. The commander tried (on the language of signs and gestures) to explain them he was absolutely no Herod, but a well-meaning Christian, which Yussuf and Maryam acknowledged with indulgent smiles. In the meantime, pope Francis made arrangements with the help of his cell-phone. First he sent the papal helicopter back to the Vatican; then he asked Pietro Paolin, under-secretary of the Holy See, to assemble as soon as possible a number of cardinals, the more the better, for the task of acting in his company as shepherds in the Nativity play on the sea-shore; and to bring along milk, butter, curd, cheese and a lamb.

            The animal should be without blemish, male and of the first year. You may take a kid of the goats or a lamb, as it has been written – specified pope Francis, then with a wink at the commander, added: - And of course it can also be a young llama. You know, commander, being a true-born South-American, I am immensely fond of those gracious creatures, and fortunately for me, my Holy See under-secretary is Venezuelan.

            Apparently, pope Francis had chosen his new under-secretary well, as three quarters of an hour had hardly passed when the helicopter landed, issuing in good order five cardinals, a lamb, a goatling and an enchanting llama kid. The little llama at once ran up to pope Francis, rubbed itself against him who, slightly moved, stroked it.

            In a minute the cardinals got informed that they would appear before a family of refugees as shepherds, singing, praying and offering their presents.

            - Is it true that Mary, Joseph and Jesus are Arabs? - inquired cardinal Farael García de la Serrona Villalobos wrinkling his forehead.

            - Indeed! And we shall present ourselves before them in such disposition. Right? - asked pope Francis.

            - Yes, but in what language? -asked scrupulously cardinal Raffael Farino.

            - Everybody in his own mother-tongue. And I have already a tiny bit of Arabic – assured them the pope.

            - And the Three Wise Men? - asked hopefully Giuseppe Betri.

            -  They may drop in as well, but we, Vaticanians, will be simple shepherds for the time being – stated pope Francis, adding: Any more questions?

            There were none. In a state of serious stage-fever, the cardinals left for the headquarters. The commander, opening the door, signaled with vehement gestures that there was trouble. Which they could see at once. In front of the holy family there stood, and bowed deep frequently, three beturbanned dignitaries, brown and/or black each of them. They recited their benedictions, often interrupting each other, in presumably impeccable Arabic – as Yussuf and Maryam thanked them again and again gratefully. The cardinal-shepherds looked at each other first, then at pope Francis, who assured them with a gesture that everything would go on according to the play-script. The beturbanned dignitaries drew respectfully aside, leaving them space to sing, pray and offer their presents. After their prayers pope Francis gave his Alkoran to Yussuf-Joseph to let him pray from it. Yussuf-Joseph tried, deeply moved indeed, dropping tears (of emotion or effort) on the pages of the holy book. “Hey, the deuce!” winced pope Francis realizing only then that he was still stroking the neck of the llama kid, his would-be present. So he fortified his intention and with a deep sigh led the gracious present to little Issa-Jesus.

            The Three Wise Men applauded, then after several more deep bows took their dignified leave. The commander reported to pope Francis the imminent arrival of the Red Cross people.

            - I am afraid I cannot take you to my lodgings, dear ones, as I live in the Saint Martha house room 102; but I shall go to see you – apologized pope Francis.

            In a little while “Glory be to God on High” resounded, as it did that night; but it was not the Red Cross people coming, though the new arrivals also had red-cross armbands. They were merely a merry host of angels escorting the red-cross helicopter. The refugee holy family were looking agape at the host of angels, then waved joyfully to the cardinal-shepherds who were shaking their heads in amazement at the sight of such a number of miracles. When they, too, got on their helicopter, cardinal Angelo Comastri, looking at his watch, observed with some fright:

            - I am afraid we will surely be late of the midnight mass.

            - Do not be afraid! - laughed pope Francis.

- In my mind this here was the midnight mass if I may propose so. -  remarked the Venezuelan cardinal. Pope Francis gave him a hearty hug for the remark; then, to the gently drizzling strains of the angelic chorus, he hugged the rest of them; and, encouraging them to rejoice at last in earnest, he also patted each on the back.

 

 

Parliament

 

            As he had also done in Buenos Aires, pope Francis after being elected, regularly stood at the church gate, addressing his Roman parishioners flocking out of the church; asking them: 

            - What are you going to do now, dear brother? (or sister, respectively)

            Most frequently he got answers like “Go home for lunch”, “Go for a walk”, “Go to see the plazas a bit”.

            - And then? - insisted pope Francis.

            Those who first answered “Go home for lunch”, continued: “I'll be drinking some coffee”, “I'll be taking a nap”, “I'll be going for a walk”, “I'll be going to see the plazas a bit”, “I'll be viewing some tv, a video, a movie”, “I'll be watching the match”. While those who first answered “Go for a walk”, or “Go to see the plazas a bit” usually continued: “I'll be going home for lunch”, “I'll be drinking some coffee”, “I'll be taking a nap”, “I'll be viewing some tv, a video, a movie”, “I'll be watching the match”. And so on, and so forth.

            When pope Francis asked his “And then?” for the umpteenth time they got as far as Monday morning, when such answers followed regularly as: “We'll go to work”, “I'll go to school”, “I'll begin my usual weekday”. Much less frequently pope Francis could hear such as: “I'll be doing some nice reading”, “I'll be playing with the kids”, “I'll be playing soccer with my pals”, “I'll go to the grave of my husband”, “I'll be sitting and gazing in the void”, “I'll be waiting for somebody to perhaps ring at the door”.

            After numerous misses pope Francis tried the following:

            - And what will you take along with you, dear brother? (or sister, respectively)

            At which half of the parishioners were anxious to assure him of taking nothing,   some even showing their open handbags. The rest produced a parish circular, an invitation, a devotional pamphlet, a number of the Catholic Messenger – of the latter they were rather proud.

            - I mean what message are you taking along? - interpreted his own question pope Francis.

            At which most of them looked at him in amazement, some actually asking what sort of message he meant.

            - Well the one you heard at the mass – explained pope Francis.

            - Message? - retorted the more courageous.

            - Prompting, encouragement, exhortation.

            That made the penny drop with a lot of them. And they most frequently gave answers like: “Of course! We have been sent with the message to go in peace”, while some said: “To be good”, “To love our sweet Jesus”. Pope Francis put them further questions about what they meant by being good or loving our sweet Jesus. At which they generally answered: “That we won't do anything evil”. While some replied: “That we strive not to sin by thought, word, deed or omission”. 

            - Have you not thought of, dear brethren (or sisters, respectively) doing some good by thought, word or deed? - inquired pope Francis.

            At which quite a lot of them got embarrassed.

            - And if you heard me and my brethren by the altar say: “Go, you have a mission”?

            To which very few gave an answer, mainly like: “In that case they would probably tell us what mission they are sending us on, and where and what for.”

           

            Pope Francis summoned the parish priests of Rome and entreated them to bid farewell to their congregations with the words “Go, you have a mission”, then at the church gate ask them about what they would take on.

            - Had we not better tell them expressis verbis what they shall do? - asked some more assertive parish priests. Pope Francis thought about it then said:

            - You may try that, but you had better discuss it with them.

            - But how? - asked the parish priests rather perplexed.

            - Wait a minute! Let us ave a try! Next Sunday I shall say mass in one of your churches. Come if you can, listen, and we shall talk over whatever may come out of it.

 

            The following Sunday pope Francis said mass in a suburban church of Rome. In his homily he spoke of the kingdom of God. The congregation knew that was his craze, but he surprised them all when announcing:

            - And now begins the parliament, that is the parliament of the kingdom of God. I should be glad if you put up suggestions about how we could build the kingdom of God, what with and what of.

            - The crux is, pope Francis, that the kingdom of God, as Jesus explained to Pilate, is not of this world.

            - Dear brother, this, in my opinion, means that the kingdom of God is sempiternal, superior to any kingdom, country or nation. One more thing, this kingdom cannot be pressed upon anybody by brute force. However, take into account what Jesus stressed more than once: that the kingdom of God “is at hand”, “is amongst you”, moreover “is within you”. He even stated         that unto his faithful – that is you, dear brethren (or sisters respectively) - it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.

            A gentleman with a bow-tie came forward. Pope Francis hurried up to him with the mike.

            - I apologize for acing the lawyer. Am I right in presuming that in this parliament only citizens of the kingdom of God can take part?

            - Which you all are! - answered him the pope. - If there are no more questions, let us hear your suggestions.

            This started rather cumbersomely. A nun spoke first:

            - In my mind the kingdom of God can be built by the sanctity of our lives.

            Then a parish priest:

            - Of many hallowed communities.

            Pope Francis ran with the mike up to each of them; in the following case to a little girl:

            - Of good deeds – said the little girl.

            - For instance? - pope Francis encouraged her.

            - I, for one, would give my white kangaroo to a poor child, Chiara.

            - Excellent! - recognized pope Francis.

            He ran up to a dozen more children, who were also eager to present poor friends: with toys, used but working cellular phones, or even white mice. The grown-ups remained rather passive, in vain pope Francis tried to encourage them for example in such manner:

            - Courage, brother, speak out, go ahead!

            Or in such:

            - I can see, dear brother, you have it on the tip of your tongue. Out with it!

            Or maybe in such a way:

            - Dear brother in Christ, I'll bet you would be glad to come forward with something or other. For the love of Christ, share it with us!

            He was already going back to the altar when a rather seedy middle-aged man made up his mind:

            - I would propose something if you don't mind. If someone has a full job and wouldn't put himself in a hopeless position with the sacrifice, let him halve his job with a jobless person.

            A hush before storm followed. Pope Francis cleared his throat, then very softly but – owing to the mike – audibly for everybody, asked:

            - Have you, brother, anything to halve?

            - Unfortunately, I have been jobless for three years, though I am a good hand at a lot of things – said the man.

            An elegant man with a beard came forward. Pope Francis almost flew to meet him.

            - I would offer one third of mine.

            A piercing squeal arose from beside the man who made the offer.

            - For heaven's sake, Antonio, are you completely out of your mind? Do you want to make your three children pathologically undernourished?

            Pope Francis walked back to the pulpit with an abstracted face. Several people remembered he was humming something, something merry and rather mundane. Then, behind the pulpit, opening his arms, he said:

            - Dear fellow members in the parliament of the kingdom of God, I have learned a lot already. You know, in the parliaments of this world members take the floor after previously consulting with those they represent. I propose for us to do the same. Do not want to give away Granny's favorite foot-stool without asking Granny, and even the white mouse should be agreed about, Benedetto, as maybe the little darling is also your father's pet.

            - I second Benedetto's motion! - shouted the little boy's father.

            - Amen! - closed pope Francis the first session of the parliament of the kingdom of God.

 

            The following week, at the next gathering of the parish priests of Rome in the San Lorenzo basilica, pope Francis proposed them to hold similar parliaments in their own parishes. The priests murmured, hemmed and hawed. One of them figured out that at the first parliament pope Francis was running two and a half kilometers up and down with the mike – which the majority of them would be unable to do. Some suggested drawing in lawyers, politologists, communication experts. Many would undertake one parliament a year at most, and by no means within the frame of a mass. To cut a long story short: pope Francis was voted down (like at the synod about the family), but he did not lose heart at all. He speculated a bit, then said:

            - I do not need to emphasize, dear brethren by the altar, that as a matter of course the kingdom of God is not compulsory, not even for us. Even if it is within us. Let this be an optional project for the time being. Anybody may declare “Eeny-meeny-miny-mo, fains!”

            Great relief rippled through the basilica, as the kingdom of God ceased to threaten them like Damocles' sword. The situation improved to such an extent that several of them took a liking at once.

 

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