Advertisement

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

What Unites Nelson Mandela and Pope Francis in Greatness?

Advertisement

Photo credit: AFP, Vincenzo Pinto)

Photo credit: AFP, Vincenzo Pinto)

TIME magazine’s pronouncement of Pope Francis as “Person of the Year,” coming as it does after yesterday’s memorial service for Nelson Mandela, has sparked some thoughts on the making of these two great persons.  What unites them? A surprising number of things, maybe, but one quality in particular stands out.

Advertisement

Humility, in a willingness to be treated as any other prisoner on Robbins Island, despite one’s political credentials, is the same disposition that motivates the most powerful figure in contemporary Christianity to eschew the traditional papal mode of transport—a shiny, spanking new Mercedes Benz—in favor of a 1984 Renault 4 economy car with over 186,000 miles to its name. Humility that accepts a sentence of life imprisonment with an almost cheerful resolve, including the capacity to forgive and befriend one’s captors. Humility that foreswears temptations to hold on to power—and instead gives that power away. Humility that goes out into the streets where the poor are, finding there the wealth of God’s kingdom.Nelson Mandela talking to a girl who is HIV positive

Advertisement

Such humility doesn’t just grow on trees: I don’t see it often in today’s public figures or in the recesses of my own heart. But such humility seems in keeping with the pattern of One who, thinking equality with the Father not to be grasped, took on human flesh, humbling Himself on a cross (Philippians 2).

There may be plenty of other similarities between Nelson Mandela and Pope Francis; but this one, humility, seems to live up to its name: it is, I suspect, the single, most important defining mark of human greatness—and the easiest to overlook. But, what do you think? Are there other commonalities that unite these two men in greatness?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Previous Posts

3 Quasi-Spiritual Lessons from the Ashley Madison Scandal
For those of us saints and sinners who even remotely have been following last week’s Ashley Madison scandal, I can think of at least three lessons it offers (and you may have more, in which case feel free to leave them below): 1. Chances ...

posted 6:14:59pm Aug. 27, 2015 | read full post »

John Oliver vs. Televangelists and Their "Big Seed" Prosperity Gospel
If you've not seen it, you must: John Oliver on "Last Week Tonight" offered the most brilliantly funny rebuke of televangelists and the prosperity gospel I've seen to date. Oliver doesn't mince words, including the four-letter ones, in blasting ...

posted 2:21:12am Aug. 18, 2015 | read full post »

How the Latest Revelations Re: ISIS' Systemized Sexual Violence Against Girls Remind Me I Am Not a Pacifist
As if ISIS had not already convinced us enough of its total depravity ... the latest revelations by The New York Times —(be forewarned, they are disturbing to read) — remind me why I am not a pacifist. As if turning small boys into child ...

posted 5:54:37pm Aug. 14, 2015 | read full post »

Mustard Seed Faith and a Mustard Seed Kingdom of God, Via Mary Oliver
Last ...

posted 1:47:32pm Aug. 12, 2015 | read full post »

A Beloved Lion, The Dentist Who Trophy-Hunted Him, and the Power of Shame
[caption id="attachment_5637" align="alignleft" width="300"] 13-year-old Cecil was the beloved resident of Hwange National Park, where earlier this July he was baited and killed for fun by Walter Palmer, DDS. The GPS collar Cecil was wearing ...

posted 2:54:27pm Jul. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.