At first, the detail seemed like a compelling if random tidbit: The new pope takes the bus. Then similar stories kept proliferating after Pope Francis' election last month. His first words as pope were to ask for a blessing before offering one. Hours after becoming pope he called to cancel his newspaper subscription back in Buenos Aires. He chose to live in a guesthouse rather than the sprawling papal apartments. On Holy Thursday, Francis washed the feet of incarcerated women and non-Catholics.

These acts are deemed heroic. Young Catholics by the millions are sharing images of Francis' good deeds. Many fallen-away Catholics are saying the pope's gestures of humility might bring them back to the church.

But why are a few humble gestures such a big deal? Shouldn't we expect that the planet's most prominent pastor would embrace simplicity?