By Joel Hess

pope congress

I have always been struck by the way the Pharisees treated Judas when he returned the money they gave him for betraying Jesus. Their response? They threw the money back at him; his guilt, his sin, his salvation. Figure it out yourself. The prophets called these guys – shepherds who eat their own sheep.

So the good Shepherd says, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

Such rotten shepherding did not end with the Pharisees. Their protégés did the same to the people in the Middle Ages as the “church” also threw the yoke of salvation back upon the people as they required more than faith in Christ. And their heir did the same yesterday on national television, while a torn and worn world tuned in to see what the chair of Leo would do with their 30 coins.

He threw it back at them.  You figure it out!


Men and women gathered who are burdened by the chaos of the world: wars and rumors of wars, poverty and bankruptcy, divisions and conspiracy. Each member of congress carrying the weight of their own personal baggage, let alone the weight of the world. They were like sheep without a shepherd. And yes I am not naive, most of them are not looking for a shepherd besides themselves.

But alas! A shepherd comes! One who calls himself the vicar of Christ! Some call him the top shepherd the icon of Christ?

He had one job! Go and make disciples.

Speak! Jesus. Repentance, forgiveness, life, hope, the cross, resurrection!

You had one job! You shepherd of shepherds!

But instead silence. Coins thrown back. God’s back turned.

He threw it all back at them. He gave them a list of things to do. Oh, it was good stuff. He was, as a friend of mine said, “inspiring.”


But that’s like saying your doctor is good at juggling. Great! But that’s not his job and I still have a broken arm.

Francis did not give them anything, but laid upon them a yoke.

And by not giving them anything, He took Jesus away.

More than advice, the world needs Jesus. More than correction, the world needs to repent and hear Christ’s forgiveness. More than fixing, the world needs to be destroyed and made new. More than healing the world needs resurrection.

Yes, I know that isn’t the government’s job.

And if Francis’ words would have been spoken by the president or elected official or Ghandi then I would stand up and cheer too!

But speaking Jesus is the job of a person who calls himself a shepherd, a pastor, a vicar of Christ.  You shall not take the Lord God’s name in vain, you church that bears his name yet does not give what His name means.


Maybe for a couple of days they will return to their offices inspired to try harder, to change some policies, to love their neighbor. Perhaps some will change their mind on certain policies even.

Yet some also will hang themselves in hopelessness. How can we ever make the world a better place!! I can’t even keep my marriage together.

Brothers of the cloth, we too often forget we have one job. Lord have mercy on us. Speak!  Give out the Goods! Repent and believe the Good News! Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again!

Fortunately, one way or another, Christ will get that job done through whatever frail, flailing and fallen flesh He resurrects – so that those who are weak and weary will have Rest in Him!


12 thoughts on “#YouHadOneJob

  1. Heya, Pat O’Neal checking in. A well written article, but my reaction to it is this: The Pope didn’t let the politicians down because the politicians did not ask for forgiveness and absolution.

    How can you dispense something when it’s not asked for; in addition, they were not at church, nor is a government gathering ecclesia because they do not gather in The Triune God.

    I believe Pope Francis did exactly what was asked of him: addressing issues and problems, which are plaguing our particular society. His words actually echoe similiar sentiments when Pope John Paul addressed this country when visiting St. Louis. I don’t think much has changed.

    In fact, did Pelosi and other politicians join him to pass out acts if charity during lunch? Some may have, I’ve yet to look. I’m hoping so.

    Engaging thoughts, as always and blessings this weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not so sure the pope had any job at all, since the very office that he holds is a sham, created for the exaltation of a man, rather than Christ.

    Supposing the pope had any legitimacy to speak on political issues, I’d say he even failed at that!


  3. The Pope is no “brother in the cloth.” The core teachings of Catholicism, which are heretical in ways too numerous to list, render it apostate. This Pope has gone further than many of his predecessors by blending Catholic theology with liberation theology, socialism, income inequality, economic redistribution, and now….the narrative of climate change with the figurative metaphor of “Mother Earth” or our ” earth sister” crying out. What can one say about all this media hype? When this Pope was giving his speech at the recent visit, he mentioned the one person he loves, whom he goes to for help, whom he speaks to when he is in a “bind.”.. …..Saint Joseph. For a brief second, as he finished his sentence, I thought he would say…”Jesus.” No. It was Saint Joseph who was his comfort. The more I have heard over the last week….the more I appreciate Martin Luther.


    1. These are stories and narratives about people who served because of Christ; however, it would have been better if The Pope did this and he didn’t, but alas people are talking more about faith and spirituality more than ever before.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Francis ‘took Jesus away.’ Some will ‘hang themselves with hopelessness.’ Really? What kind of theological alternate universe do you live in? Sounds a little bit like sour grapes to me, still charging at the windmills of 500 years ago.


  4. Ron, the point was that Francis” took Jesus away” in the sense of making politics the focus of much of his monologues. This was a political speech by a religious figure. He was given an opportunity to address 10 million viewers and participants with the message of Jesus and the cross, but instead he chose to present a leftist worldview with the added New Age jargon of saving mother earth from man…..as if climate change has never been happening over millenial cycles throughout the earth’s history. It is a sorry state indeed, and empty, carefully crafted rhetoric designed to castigate technical progress as consummate evil feeds the climate change promoters but never proves the hypothesis, nor convinces thoughtful scholars that it is all “settled science.” And what actions would the pontiff suggest? We are all for conservation, but that is not enough for some, who would close down the existing energy systems and hope wind or solar will keep us going. Without the existing energy needed to power industry, we will have more starvation, more misery, fewer jobs, and fewer handouts which the Pope expects provided for the millions of refugees demanding countries, homes, employment, and IPhones paid from the resources of other people.


  5. We should not be surprised or disappointed that the Bishop of Rome did not even mention Christ in his speech to Congress. All Churches today mirror the world or age in which we live. This world is about money, power, and control, hence the art of politics. Whether it’s the Vatican City-State with its Pope and bureaucracy or the Protestant Denominations with their bureaucratic institutions and seminaries the name of the game is money, power, and control. Seminaries must stay open and pay their staff well so seminarians must accrue debt to maintain seminaries. The Bishop of Rome is a politician who must win over enough of the people to keep the Vatican in business: money, power, and control. I am not surprised and indeed glad that they name of Jesus and the Gospel of Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins was never mentioned.


  6. You people are awesome. It’s always my favorite thing when Christians forget that immigration (welcoming the stranger), environmental stewardship, redemptive economics, poverty alleviation, and many of the other things the Pope addressed are a part of God’s heart for His people; were a part of Jesus’ redemptive action in the world; and remain a part of His calling to those of us who would follow him. But to know that would require you to have a nuanced and balanced theological understanding of scripture. Which, I will grant, has never been the fundamentalist movement’s greatest strength.


    1. I read the whole article 🙂

      My point is simply that the pope, and the rest of us, have more than “one job” as followers of Jesus, that is all. His speech largely was about things that are important, redemptive tenets of our faith, wouldn’t you agree?

      Could he have located the discussion more centrally around Jesus? Yeah, he could have. Could he have “given them the goods” about repentance and belief in the good news about Jesus? Yup. Would that have been appropriate for the context? I’m not so sure about that.

      Instead, he used a major world stage to to build common ground around issues that should matter to us. In the process he created an opportunity for all of us to have convicted, civil dialogue with people outside our faith.

      What’s the problem with that?


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