In a recent article in the Washington Post, about the Pope and his visit to the US, several statements caught my attention, but there is one in particular that I would like to focus on today.
The author, a Presbyterian Pastor, refers to the Pope as “Holy Father”. No big deal; a common title for the head of the Catholic Church. Yet, what would Jesus say about calling the Pope “Holy Father”?
“And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:9, NIV)
There’s no need to expand on what Jesus said. His instruction is simple and clear. Yet I cannot help but wonder how many Catholics are aware of this verse, and if they are, what do they think about it. If you are Catholic, please honor Jesus and pray with Him about what He has told us here.
I also challenge the Presbyterian Pastor who wrote the article, and all others who nonchalantly call the Pope and Catholic Priests “father”, to think about what Jesus is telling us. And how about you? Please do not take Jesus’ words lightly.
There are those in the Catholic Church who will have you call them “father”, yet as Peter had said to the Sanhedrin, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.” (Acts 4:19, NIV)
One final thought: why did Jesus feel compelled to state that we are to call no one else father? Could it be Jesus knew that because of our sinful nature, which is rooted in pride, people would seek to elevate their status and perhaps even make themselves equal to God, or at least make themselves above others? Sounds to me like Jesus might be telling us we are all equal, in His sight, and that none are to be elevated above others. There is only one who is above us; God the one and only Father.
September 9th, 2008: If you like, you will find a follow-up to this post at “Jesus, do you really mean it?”