By Larry Peterson
This is from the Gospel of Luke; Chapter 9: vs 46-50
An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest.
Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is greatest."
This gospel reading is all about the greatest of all the 'deadly' sins, Pride. It is also about the greatest of all 'heavenly' virtues, Humility. This is a "clash of the titans" of Evil vs Good. And it makes me think about Pope Francis with his innocent smile and his natural affinity to children and the disabled and downtrodden. It makes me realize that the most famous man on the planet is also the most humble.
Pope Francis, without trying and by just being who God made him to be, wears this mantle of humility without fanfare, showmanship, pretentiousness or anything that might be self-serving in any manner.
Yes, he wears that mantle and it is always fastened to his shoulders with the clasp of Love. In so doing he shows the whole world what it means to think of yourself last before all others. (Don’t you love the black shoes he wears)?
Jorge Mario Bergoglio never asked to be a bishop or a cardinal. He never "lobbied" for these positions or sought them out in any way. He did not have "super-pacs" at his beckoned call when the vacancy for Pope opened. He simply loved being a priest, working with the poor and homeless and doing his best to follow God's call so he would make his life pleasing to Him.
Make no mistake, God called him to the papacy. The secular world mocks that concept but that is why they cannot experience the joy the faithful experience when he visits other countries and millions of these folks turn out to see him, waving and singing and even crying as he goes by. If they could only swallow their damn pride a bit and open their hearts they may find the elusive peace that evades them.
Pope Francis is the successor to St. Peter. He is filled with the Holy Spirit. That Spirit leads him to stop his motorcade and wade into a crowd of children and hug them and kiss their foreheads. It compels him to embrace the crippled, the disfigured, the mentally challenged, the homeless as well as the "uppity-ups". He has no qualms about walking into a prison and embracing hard-core murderers, rapists, thieves, and drug dealers.
During his stop in Washington, D.C. last year, the Pope visited with President Obama and then, after offering Mass in the Cathedral, made a point of going to the offices of the Little Sisters of the Poor. He was sending a message to the entire world about the solidarity that exists within the Church when it comes to respect for life, ALL life.
That message required no words---just action. The Pope gave that message by meeting with the Sisters who take care of the elderly poor, free of charge and have been doing so since St. Jeanne Jugan founded the order back in 1841. The fact that the Holy Father had just visited with the President of the United States surrounded by the opulence attached to the visit and then, after being cheered by millions as he headed to the Cathedral, mattered not. His smile was broadest while he spent his short time with the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Pope Francis leaves every country he visits a more contented and inspired nation. He reaches out to everyone and many respond. And the reason is so basic; he represents the Goodness and Love that Jesus Christ brings to us. He is His ambassador on earth. He does his work well. But, as is the way of things, after he leaves a place, the pride that consumes humankind comes back and makes itself known again. The good news is, after a Papal Visit, pride has fewer followers.
Thank you Holy Father, for the grace, inspiration, love and example you give us. Hopefully we can get you back to America soon. Our country could use a booster shot of humility, especially in the political arena.
©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved