What do pro wrestlers and Pope Francis have in common? They are all public figures who acknowledge that they can’t do everything themselves, that they need the blessing, love, and support of those they serve for them to do their job effectively. When elected, Francis taught us a pastoral and theological lesson by seeking the people’s blessing. He needed the People of God. And guess what? The People of God support him. Well, I had learned that same lesson over many a Monday Night Raw by unlikely characters who needed the fans and acknowledged the fans. And guess what? The fans supported them.
A few weeks back, Gen-X and Millennial bros mourned the passing of “The Ultimate Warrior”, Jim Hellwig. The Warrior’s gimmick was simple: high energy + big muscles + facepaint and bicep tassles = wrestling gold. He was mysterious; his promos ranged from mystical to downright nonsensical. After being inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame, Ultimate Warrior had one last promo for his fans, an eerie speech that served as a eulogy just days before his actual death. He called the fans “legend-makers” of him and of any pro wrestler worth his salt. He knew who the real stars were:
Ultimate Warrior wasn’t the only pro wrestler with legendary promos that acknowledged the fans’ support. Take the Hulk Hogan promo below where The Hulkster displays his gratitude for all the love and support his fans (“Hulkamaniacs”). Energized by the memory and love of his fans, the Hulkster will draw energy from the people (as he put it, “steal the energy from all the Hulksters”) knowing that he cannot serve them unless they give their own blessing.
Or how about The Rock’s promo below. The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment always knew who energized him to be a great wrestler. Watch as he starts with his customary acknowledgement that he is a guest in another city (“Finally, The Rock has come back to…”). Then jump to 1:55 to catch The Rock including the millions (and millions!) of his fans in his schtick. The fans become part of the scene because they are a part of his work. [Warning: the ending isn’t NSFW, but it’s also not that appropriate, either.]
Now for a Jesuit in formation like me, it would be a tad narcissistic to desire the faithful to chant my name or for me to call out other priests and religious and challenge them to a cage match. However, these wrestlers teach us ministers that the Body of Christ is alive and paying attention, and we ministers need to take our cues from the Body the way wrestlers feed off their fans. And whether we win a title belt or there is happiness in ministry, we need to know it wasn’t only our own efforts, but Christ’s through the millions (and millions!) of parts of his body.
So for all my fellow religious in formation and for seminarians, I just got one question: Watcha gonna do… when the people of God support YOU!!