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CHRIST THE KING: The Two Standards and Our Jesuit Pope

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Thursday, December 3, 2015
To understand Pope Francis, it helps to understand his Jesuit formation.  Our modern society presents many examples of one of St. Ignatius’ main concepts – the two standards.  Blogger Judy Barrett looks at one of the most recent:
 
In late September hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets in Washington, New York and Philadelphia to get a glimpse of Pope Francis during the Papal visit and World Meeting of Families.  Since then we’ve had time to meditate on the Holy Father’s messages about peace, joy and love, and the family as the bedrock of every culture.  He spoke of looking at the faces of the poor rather than seeing them as statistics, and of practicing little gestures of kindness.  If, like me, you followed the Papal visit on the media, you could see love and joy in the faces of the crowds.  You could hear hope and respect in the voices of commentators during the live television coverage.
 
Meanwhile, on that same September weekend, some 400,000 advocates of sexual freedoms gathered on the opposite coast for a fair celebrating their lifestyle which included public nudity and other immodest activities.  I won’t go into further details. 
 
The juxtaposition of the Papal visit and the so-called “fair” on the two sides of our continent bring to mind the meditation on the “Two Standards” from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, wherein those making the Exercises are invited to contemplate two vast opposing armies, that of Christ our Lord and the other of Satan, and to choose which standard (or flag) they will follow.
 
Which standard asks us to protect the most vulnerable members of society? Which standard does not let us turn a blind eye to the selling of aborted fetal body parts? Which standard does not let us become numb to the massacre of Christians in the Middle East and the plight of refugees fleeing violence?  Which standard tells us that it is better to ease the suffering of the dying through kindness and palliative care rather than to eliminate the patient by means of physician- assisted suicide?
 
At some point, each of us must make the choice—will Christ be our King?  To follow Christ means we cannot become so enamored with “tolerance” that nothing shocks us anymore. To follow Christ means not only a personal, interior conversion.  Responding to the call of Christ informs our stand on public policy issues and shapes our actions for the common good. It means bearing witness to the truth.
 
“Upon this will depend our entry into, or exclusion from, the Kingdom of God: our belonging to the one side or the other. Through his victory, Jesus has opened to us his Kingdom.  But it is for us to enter into it, beginning with our life now….”  Pope Francis, homily on November 23, 2014