We have a pope! By now we will probably have heard everything that is right about our new pope and everything that is wrong about him. As I write this article for the bulletin, however, the pope was just elected yesterday. So I am reflecting on a few first impressions I had when our new pope, Francis, made his brief appearance on that balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
In his letter to the Philippians Paul said, “Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave…he humbled himself…” There is great power that comes with the position of being pope, but the example Jesus gave was one of humility. Nothing speaks that more clearly than when he washed the feet of his disciples.
When Pope Francis came out on that balcony the commentators were giving us a little information about him. He lived in a simple apartment and took public transportation to work. He cooked for himself. He has a love for the poor. The cross that he wore was a simple cross. There was a simplicity and humility about him. I noticed that humility more when he asked the people to bless him and pray for him before he gave his blessing to the people. I was touched by those simple gestures.
In today’s first reading Isaiah says, “The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens by ear that I may hear…” I think our church longs for a word that will rouse us. I know I do. We need a leader who will hear the needs of his flock. Pope Francis has his work cut out for him.
One last thing that I have reflected about is the name his chose as our new pope, Francis. St. Francis of Assisi was called by God to rebuild his church. I hope Pope Francis helps us to rebuild and renew our church. There is so much our church has to offer. I fear that we have lost sight of that and I hope he can help us retrieve it. He does have his work cut out for him.
Keep him in your prayers. He will need them. Pray for our church. As I said in last week’s bulletin, I think God is doing something new in our church.
This is a wonderful time of year for our church. The liturgies this week are awe inspiring. I hope you will make time to come and celebrate them with us.