Why the Pope's embrace of the disfigured man is so powerful
Wednesday in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis met, embraced and kissed a man suffering from a rare disease called neurofibromatosis, a painful and disfiguring skin condition.
Photos of the Pope hugging a man whose face was blanketed with tumors struck a deep chord in people across the world.
Why do these photos speak to so many people so profoundly?
For believers, the Pope’s kiss reminds us of God. This is the way God loves us. God loves us in all our pain, in all our struggles, in all our humanity.
Few of us suffer from such a terrible disease as does the man in the photo; not many of us are physically disfigured. But many of us feel internally disfigured – unworthy of unconditional love. Yet God wants nothing more than to embrace us as tightly as the Pope’s embrace.
In this photo, on a level deeper than we might even be able to recognize, we see an image of God.
In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus’ tale of a father’s reconciliation with a son, there is a wonderful line. When the wayward son returns home, after squandering his inheritance on a life of debauchery, Jesus says that the father, seeing his son from afar, rushes out to greet him. The original Greek then describes the father doing something wonderful.
The English translation of Luke’s Gospel says that the father “ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.” Again, a literal translation from the original Greek is more beautiful, and will resonate with anyone who sees the photos. "Kai dramōn epepesen epi ton trachēlon autou kai katephilēsen auton" can be translated as “And running, he fell upon his neck and fervently kissed him.”
Do you ever wonder what God’s love is like? Look at Jesus. Look at St. Francis of Assisi. And look at the Pope.
ALSO NOTE: This is coming from a guy who isn't even close to catholic.
But, why I love this so much is because when I encounter people who don't believe in any type of God, rarely when talking with them do they have a problem with the teachings, or the character of Jesus. What they typically have a problem with is the organized religion that comes with it, and usually the extreme mistreatings they have encountered by someone who is a "believer".
I challenge you guys to really look at these photos - This is what believers should be doing. This is how believers should be acting.
josh. questions / comments / hate / etc - firstname.lastname@example.org 1.9