“I am a pilgrim who is beginning the last part of his pilgrimage.” These were words uttered by Pope Benedict as he gave his last benediction as pope. Our national consciousness has been occupied recently by the sudden resignation of a reigning pope. This has not happened in 600 years. As an evangelical protestant, I have always admired Pope Benedict. As many of my generation, I grew up in a culture that was very anti-catholic. But as I matured and grew in my walk with Jesus, I came to an appreciation of the rich spiritual tradition of the Catholic church. I have tasted the “spiritual fruit” of the Roman Catholic spiritual vineyard, without having to belong to the vineyard (Catholic Church). Pope Benedict was a very astute theologian who was deeply concerned about the secularization of the West. Much of what he had to say was misconstrued by the media. He was a man of personal humility and sincerity.
I want to draw attention to the Pope’s thought of being a pilgrim, along with his last Twit. First, being a pilgrim, reminds me of Paul’s words in Phil. 3:20-21. “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” The Pope is an elderly man, who carried the enormous weight of leading the Catholic church during some difficult years. He is a very private and reflective man. In obedience to the Lord, he took up the task of pope. But in my opinion, it was never about power and status, but giving himself as a servant. That is why in humility he could give it all up. He wants to go into a hidden life of prayer and study.
Men, there is a profound lesson to learn from the resigning of this pope. The journey that you and I are on is a pilgrimage; we are only passing through. I have reminded people many times in sermons that everything in this world will one day “go up in smoke.” The pope in his final words has humbly reminded us that we are pilgrims. We have our eyes on a better place. Like Abraham we are “looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb 11:10). This world is not our home. “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come” (Heb 13:14). So men, don’t ever get too tied down to this life. I know, I take great comfort in knowing there is much more waiting for me on the other side. Don’t lose sight of your heavenly home.
Many of you probably are aware that the pope began to twit not too long ago. He address was @pontifix. He got a lot of attention, both good and down right ugly. Well, his last twit was as follows: “Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the center of your life.” Wow! Here is an 83 year old man, who in my opinion, was showing the wear and tear of his office, twitting about joy. It reminds me of the apostle Paul, when he wrote from prison, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near” (Phil 4:4-5). We experience joy, in my understanding, when we embrace our uniqueness as a man and live in that freedom.
I appreciate the pope’s words to focus on Jesus. If there is one things that continues to be on my heart as I write this blog, it is the burden of men finding joy by putting Jesus at the center of their lives. If there is a man ready this blog today, struggling with making Jesus the center of your life, I implore you, in the word of AA, “let go” of your old self, and embrace the life of Jesus that is already present with you. You will find freedom from old self, resulting in joy. I can testify to this reality. Listen to Paul encouragement to you. “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take you stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you” Gal 5:1 – The Message).