What has Pope Francis taught us 4 years into his papacy?

When I reflect on four years of Pope Francis, my brain conjures an image of a man (in a white cassock, of course) straining to push a giant armoire across a cavernous room. Spoiler alert—the armoire is the church.

He is a bit impatient because he thinks its “new spot” will be vastly more desirable. From time to time he is grumpy and barks a comment or two to the people around him who are failing to help. Sometimes he doesn’t have a great deal of patience with the people who dispute his trajectory, or who want to know how it will actually work in practice when the armoire reaches its new spot.

Another image comes to mind, too. This one is very much a function of the situation in the United States at this moment. Headlines are screaming; battle lines are hardening; and our heads are swimming. We may be “one nation,” but we are most definitely not “indivisible” or “under God.” Forty percent of Americans report that they have recently fought with a close friend or relative over politics. And politics is a zero-sum, scorched-earth proposition, seemingly taking the place of religion for a remarkable number of people.

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