John W. Eyster: Here's why Pope Francis won the 'Super Bowl of sermons'

 

Alessandra Tarantino

Effective Christmas message! I want to report that I am announcing my choice of the “WINNER” of the “Super Bowl of sermons” which Gazette reporter, Andrea Behling discussed in her insightful article in the Christmas Eve Day (12/24) issue of The Janesville Gazette. I urge YOU to read that article for context for this WE THE PEOPLE blog post. Interesting to read her description of how a few local pastors prepare for Christmas Eve when there is the LARGEST attendance at worship services of the year.

I was VERY INSPIRED and CHALLENGED by Pope Francis’ Christmas Message to the Vatican’s government leadership (the Roman Curia)! He shared a ZINGER of a message! I doubt any local pastor in the Janesville area will come close to the incisive and poignant message articulated by Pope Francis. After YOU participate in Christmas Eve worship, I hope YOU will post your own comment as to your choice for the “Super Bowl of sermons” “WINNER,” with YOUR rationale. I’ll be ready with special interest.

In spite of the fact that I am currently Interim Pastor at East Koshkonong Lutheran Church (EKLC) near Cambridge, WI, I will not be participating in the “Super Bowl of sermons” tonight. We do have Christmas Eve Candlelight Services at 3 pm and 6 pm, but I will not be preaching. We at EKLC are blessed to have our South-Central Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Bishop Mary Froiland sharing the Christmas Eve message/sermon this Christmas Eve.

Have YOU read through the “15 ailments of the Vatican Curia” identified by Pope Francis in his Christmas Message? I appreciated the lead of the AP report, “To the Catholic Church’s ‘seven deadly sins,’ Pope Francis has added the ‘15 ailments of the Curia’.”

TRUTH BE TOLD, these 15 spiritual ailments are NOT just true for the Roman Catholic Curia, they are UNIVERAL to HUMANKIND! Regardless of one’s religion (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, et al), nationality, race or ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, these SPIRITUAL AILMENTS are TRUE and threaten healthy human relations and what Christians call, “the abundant life” citing Jesus’ assertion (see Gospel of John 10:10 NRSV translation).

I urge you to read Abby Ohleiser’s summary of Pope Francis’ Christmas greeting, “The 15 ailments of the Vatican Curia, according to Pope Francis.” She leads into her article highlighting the Pope’s concern with 15 specific spiritual “ailments,” “On Monday, Pope Francis addressed the Vatican’s governing leadership—better known as the Roman Curia—for his yearly Christmas greeting witha very noticeably un-festive tone. In his remarks, the Pope listed 15 spiritual ‘ailments’ encountered in the Curia, and urged the bureaucratic leadership to renew its effort to heal itself as Christmas approaches.”

I assert that Pope Francis got TOUCHDOWNS in the “Sermon Super Bowl” with his identification of “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and “Funereal Face.”

And then, Abby provides a summary—condensed version of the 15 ailments Pope Francis identified. She reassures her readers noting, “All English translations are from the Vatican’s news office.”

Here is the first, “1) “The sickness of considering oneself ‘immortal’, ‘immune’ or ‘indispensable’, neglecting the necessary and habitual controls. A Curia that is not self-critical, that does not stay up-to-date, that does not seek to better itself, is an ailing body. … It is the sickness of the rich fool who thinks he will live for all eternity, and of those who transform themselves into masters and believe themselves superior to others, rather than at their service’.” I leave it to YOU to read the remaining 14 ailments.

I assert that each and every one of us should assess one’s own life through the lens of Pope Francis’ 15 spiritual ailments. VERY HEALTHY EXERCISE for all of us as we complete 2014 and move into New Year 2015 with New Year’s Eve 1-week from today—December 31, 2014 into January 1, 2015!

Having read through and reflected on the Pope’s 15 spiritual ailments, which one do YOU consider to be the MOST CHALLENGING—SIGNIFICANT? WHY? Yes, always my students have to explain their stance/choice/case with full rationale. It is the rationale which I assess and score for their grade and NOT the particular stance reflecting their own personal values/beliefs. Looking forward with anticipation to reading YOUR comments after you have read through the Pope’s 15 spiritual ailments.

Another TOUCHDOWN comes in this message as the Pope cites the Apostle Paul, “We are therefore required, at this Christmas time and in all the time of our service and our existence—to live ‘speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love’.” (See Ephesians 4:15-16.)

I assert that it is relevant healthy advice that we all “speaking the truth in love.” And then, while Paul is referring specifically to the Christian Church as the Body of Christ, there is the reality that HUMANKIND is a body if we accept the conviction that ALL HUMANKIND are created of one blood to live on the Earth. This means that it is crucial that each part of the body is working properly to be HEALTHY! HUMANKIND is ONE FAMILY! I’m interested to read YOUR comments with YOUR rationale!

PRAYING for ALL HUMANKIND the PEACE and LOVE which is part of the message of the Christian Christmas and which Christians believe the baby born in Bethlehem, Jesus, came to bring to all humankind. “…on earth peace, good will toward men.” (See Luke 2:14 KJV.)

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