As Dorothy travels the Yellow Brick Road, each of the friends she meets start out the same way: they’re stuck. So is Dorothy, really. She’s stuck in Oz. The Scarecrow is stuck on a pole,The Tin Man is rusted solid, and The Cowardly Lion is stuck in a state of shame, bullying passers-by due to his lack of true courage.
A lot of people get stuck- in bad habits, bad jobs, in bad relationships. Sometimes we can get stuck and not know it- we can be set in our ways, so inflexible that we might not help as many people as we could, or even end up hurting a few.
Jesus is all about freedom. When people needed help, he broke the rules that he was raised to honor. He didn’t force anybody to follow him- discipleship was always invited, not coerced. That freedom was enthralling to a lot of people and scary to others.
Freedom in Action
When people are ordained for leadership in the Church, they are presented a book of the Gospels- stories from the life of Jesus- and given this command:
Believe what you read.
Teach what you believe.
Practice what you teach.
We’ve only been journeying together a short time, but thus far, our new friend Pope Francis has show himself to be a man whose convictions match his actions.
People have been pretty excited about some of those actions: taking the bus, paying his hotel bill, personally calling a newsstand in Argentina to cancel his newspaper, climbing out of his jeep to bless a disabled man, and even ditching plans to celebrate Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper at St. Peter’s to celebrate the liturgy at a youth prison instead.
Last year, Pope Francis (known then as Cardinal Bergoglio) gave an interview and spoke about the need for the church to come out of itself:
“All ordinary activities of the Church take place in view of the mission. This signifies very strong tensions between centre and periphery, between parish and district. We need to come out of ourselves and head for the periphery. We need to avoid the spiritual sickness of a Church that is wrapped up in its own world: when a Church becomes like this, it grows sick.
It is true that going out onto the street implies the risk of accidents happening, as they would to any ordinary man or woman. But if the Church stays wrapped up in itself, it will age. And if I had to choose between a wounded Church that goes out onto the streets and a sick withdrawn Church, I would definitely choose the first one.”
It looks like Pope Francis is practicing what he preaches, and I notice that people are pretty enthralled by his actions. All of these actions are simple, and follow the heart of our Christian traditions. But some of our extra traditions- like which color shoes a pope ought to wear and the proper location of a Holy Thursday liturgy- have been adjusted. De-rusted. Unstuck.
People are drawn to freedom- for equality, for solidarity with the disenfranchised, for peaceful coexistence with all creation. Coming out of ourselves reveals freedom. Knowing where to draw the line between honoring traditions and seeking transformative action takes a brain, a heart, a lot of courage and perhaps some good friends.
Our friends on the Yellow Brick Road find their freedom in companionship- in sharing their hearts’ desires. They find freedom in helping one another. They even find freedom from hating their enemy.
–Katie Diller, Good Dog
Where do you seek freedom? In what parts of your life are you stuck?
Does being stuck limit your ability to help others? Do you ever worry that you’ve hurt anybody by being rusted solid, or bullied anybody because of your own inner pain?
Imagine yourself being free. What does that look like? What does it free you for?
Who can you ask for help? What kind of help do you need?
Please feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comment section of this blog or on our Facebook page.
For the full article on Cardinal Bergoglio’s comments, click here.