This week, Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. As is tradition, he changed his name upon taking office. The name he chose was Francis. He will be known as Pope Francis I, named after Francis of Assisi.
The new pope chose the name for symbolic reasons. One news outlet explains the symbolism this way: “(Francis of Assisi) symbolizes poverty, humility, simplicity, and rebuilding…” Taking the name Francis reminds the Pope (and the world) of the importance of humility and simplicity in Christian leadership.
Christians are weird. Reminding people of the importance of poverty, humility, and simplicity while becoming one of the most powerful people in the world is weird. It is weird in the way Jesus was weird.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus celebrates the power of simplicity and humility while warning of the temptations of wealth and power. Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit” and “blessed are the meek.” Jesus teaches that “those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Jesus warns, “it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Power and wealth are treated like temptations while humility and simplicity are celebrated like marks of God’s reign.