“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have,” (I Peter 3:15).
As I write, I’m watching the current Pope fly from the Vatican to Castle Gandolfo. By the time some of you read this, he will no longer be the Pope. It has been six-hundred years since a Pope resigned, and the last one didn’t leave in a helicopter!
In a similar vein, the last Pope to step down, Gregory XI in 1414, did not send a tweet to his flock as a final farewell. I love what the departing Pope tweeted: “Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.”
How appropriate that the one who traces his ecclesiastical roots to the Apostle Peter would echo Peter’s own words found in today’s text. “Put Christ at the center of your life.” Those are the words of the current Pope. “Set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts.” Those were the words of Peter. Both “Peters” are saying the same thing.
Imagine a place in your life that is the control center of all you do, think, say, and desire. Throughout holy history, from at least the time of Teresa of Avila, this inner place has been conceptualized as a throne. It is the place where someone or something reigns over our lives. It is usually occupied by ego. Authentic conversion involves a voluntary “dethroning”of ego and “enthronement” of Jesus. Spiritual life and growth involves the ongoing process of keeping Christ at the center, and on the throne. It is a moment by moment; day by day discipline.
Who or what is enthroned in your life today? In this moment I’m inviting Jesus to occupy that place in my life. I’d encourage you to do the same. If you put a little cross on your hand today, it can serve as a reminder to keep Christ enthroned. When you see it, do a “throne check”, and if ego has creeped in and seized control, just ask Jesus to take control again.
I’m not a Catholic. But I am a Catholic-friendly Protestant. We do exist! So I’d like to close this little post by saying, “God bless you, Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Emeritus, follower of Jesus.”