On the 2016 December 11th edition of the Catholic Register (p.19) Peter Stockland quotes a celebrated Norwegian novelist Karl Ove Knausgaard. It is about Pope Francis watching soccer on the television along with some Cardinals. He writes,

“When (the Pope) does so in the full glare of publicity….his picture disseminated by press agencies …., and shown on web pages all over the world, there is no longer a Pope. He is no longer the representative of the divine on earth, everything has gotten mixed up and holiness has dissolved into foolishness”.

It is a perfect story for Christmas. This author seems serious and furious, not joking. If he were to be living at the first Christmas time in Bethlehem, when Jesus was born in the midst of cattle in a filthy manger to an impoverished unmarried maiden, and when that was proclaimed by the angels as the birth of the Son of the Most High God, Knausgaard must have lost all faith in the Mighty God, forsaken his strong religious belief, and declared that there was no more a God out there!

The people who lived at that time did not articulate it that way; but most of them including those religious leaders, who even knew the time and place of the birth the long awaited Messiah, rejected this revelation from the Angels. What happened at Bethlehem was the unwrapping of the Mystery of Divinity that was hidden till that time. God became man to live on earth visible and tangible, as Emmanuel (God with us) among men and women, thus closing the gap of humanity with the divinity. However, humanity, even after this event, tries its level best to keep God, divinity, wrapped in mystery and away from humanity.

Pope Francis is actively unwrapping the mystery and inviting us to join and remains human. That is why for Knausgaard Pope Francis cannot be ‘the representative of the divinity on earth’! Television is for humans and Pope is not one when in public! For a major portion of the people in the world today there is no God, religion and faith in God are just myths. The ‘civilized world’ is just throwing God out of its life, Christ out of Christmas! What about us? Do we really believe that the Babe in the manger is God made man, Emmanuel? Or is God still up there?

Fr. George