“Truly I tell you, whoever does not enter into the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15)
I’m fresh back from the pope’s trip to Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia. So are there some impressions about Pope Francis in light of this Sunday’s Gospel? Yes!
Here are a few of my impressions:
First, one person, even those of us witnessing the events, cannot have a complete grasp. And in some ways, your ideas through television may have given you a full picture.
Others of us had to deal more directly with our particular slice of the vast spectacle, and the rapid speed of the unfolding events. At times, I felt like I was in the scene of Lucy and Ethel at the candy factory, where I could barely keep up with all of it since the events rushed.
And let’s add the security apparatus. For example, as I went through the airport-like security device at Washington’s National Shrine, the FTA guard swiped me with a magnetometer and asked: “Please lift your foot.” Then she added: “Lift your other foot.” I replied: “Well, I cannot lift both feet at the same time.”
She did not laugh.
Again does today’s gospel echo or amplify the image and message of Pope Francis?
I believe so, both the image and the message.
First, the TV image of Pope Francis as he greeted children left me with a lasting impression. In my case, I watched from my post in a television control room or the press/media center.
On the day the pope was to address to the Joint Session of Congress, Pope Francis stepped out of the Vatican Nuncio’s Washington residence, and from the door, he went straight to the line of school children, who were waiting for him since early morning. Both the pope and the kids were beaming in the halo of the morning light. At one point, a young boy on the railing dropped a piece of paper to the ground, and the pope stooped down to pick it up and gave the item back to the lad.
There was a glow at that moment, a special aura on the children, and Pope Francis.
Second, the pope’s homily at the final Mass in Philadelphia, where the World Meeting of Families was about to conclude, struck me deeply.
In the sermon, the pope asked: “What kind of world do we want to leave to our children?”
“God wants all of his children to take part in the feast of the Gospel. Jesus says, ‘Do not hold back anything good, instead help it to grow…
Like happiness, holiness is always tied to ‘little gestures.’
These little gestures are those we learn at home, in the family; they get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different—– signs of tenderness, affection, and compassion.
Like the warm supper — we look forward to the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work—simple gestures. — a blessing before bed. — a hug after we return from a hard day’s work.
Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home.
Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. This is why our families, our homes, are real ‘domestic churches.’ They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to become faith.
So we must ask ourselves — How are we trying to live this way in our homes, in our society? What kind of world do we want to leave our children?”
We celebrate great saints this time of year, people whose strength and holiness forward us in our lives.
Last week, we recalled the feast of Michael the Archangel, a saint to “strengthening us from evil.” Today we honor the holy memory of Francis of Assisi, whose “caring” for the least among us and all God’s creation provides an example for us even today.
So in light of Pope Francis, we ask for the strength to address the evil in “tormented minds” who take innocent lives — in the sacred space of a college in Roseburg, Oregon.
We pray for peace, full knowledge of the “collateral damage” of war-weary patients and medical staff in a “hospital without borders” in Kunduz, Afghanistan.
We pray for Pope Francis, and for the intentions of the 270 bishops and their associates who begin the three week Synod on family life in Rome. Theirs is no easy task or set of easy fixes for the Church, our world, and our families.
Most notably, in Pope Francis’s words: “What kind of world do we want to leave to our children?”
San Carlos Cathedral, Monterey, CA.