Pope Francis was voted Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” for the year 2013. The “Person of the Year” is someone who, for better or for worse, has been the most influential during that year. According to Time Magazine’s Deputy Managing Editor, Radhika Jones, “Pope Francis made his presence felt in a way that seemed different from popes in recent memory.”
People are put in the spot light when they do something that makes them stand out from those who they share a common characteristic with. While the two popes before Pope Francis were very holy men, they were more intellectual and put a lot of focus on theology. Senior Religion Editor for the Huffington Post, Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, explains how Pope Francis stands out from other religious leaders by stating:
“Pope Francis resonates with so many people because he actually lives up to the highest ideals of religion which challenges us to think both about our personal spiritual life alongside the concerns of the “other.” Pope Francis is viewed as authentic, the real deal, a true religious leader because he proclaims a radical call to justice for those most vulnerable and peace between nations and individuals in this world within the framework of an orthodox religious faith. Pope Francis combines the social gospel with personal piety in a complete package of the religious ideal.
While many local religious leaders live humble spiritual lives while preaching justice and performing charity in churches, synagogues, sanghas, temples, gurdwaras and mosques around the world, Pope Francis has done it from the highest pulpit in the world, preaching from the seat of power at the Vatican. His humility of lifestyle while leveraging the enormous power of that pulpit for good is part of why we love him so much.”
While Pope Francis is a figure that most can agree deserves to be chosen as one of the most influential people of year, many are outraged at the fact that Time chose Miley Cyrus as one of the top ten candidates. Time managing editor Nancy Gibbs said of Cyrus, “Power is not just political. It can be cultural. It can be spiritual. She came in like a wrecking ball … the most watched video of the year and at a time when we are living with an explosion of exhibitionism, since we all now carry cameras with us at all times, she is a symbol.”
I don’t know about you, but it saddens me that Miley Cyrus is a symbol of what our society has become. A society that uses media in a notorious way in order to get the world to notice us. If our natural God given gifts and bodies are not getting us the attention we want, then we can pull out our cell phones and take a picture of us looking extremely sexy or provocative and paste it all over the internet for everyone to view, comment on, like and share.
These two candidates in Time’s top ten list give a great example of the struggle most of us face each and every day as Christians. The struggle between impacting our world in a meaningful way and our need to be noticed and praised. If we can humble ourselves like Pope Francis instead of letting our need to be noticed and praised take priority, then what kind of influence do you think we can make in the world around us?