Yesterday on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Pope Francis was inaugurated as the 265th Pope to continue the same mission that Christ gave St. Peter. Pope Francis has made a huge impression on the world in just a week. Although, I think all of his gestures and witness are not opposite of Pope Benedict who is a wonderful humble and holy man. The media is making it look like this Pope is so different than Pope Benedict. Yes, all are different/unique, but each Pope brings with him rays of the spirit of Christ and seeks to shine it to the world.
Why all the buzz about Pope Francis? It has been wonderful to see the secular media so interested in what is going on with the Church over the last month. Pope Francis I’s humility, frequent mention of the poor, his message of carrying one’s cross as a disciple of the Lord and much more all have contributed to the great attention and affection toward the Pope from all around the world.
What is His Secret?
His secret is Christ and it has clearly “gotten out”. What a gift the Church is experiencing at this moment. It’s the New Evangelization before our eyes. Thanks be to God for all the blessings that we are encountering in this Year of Faith!!!
Pope Francis is witnessing more by his actions than even by his inspiring words regarding Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church. What can we take away from this and convey to others (inside and outside our classrooms)? I want to share 3 things:
1. We should encourage a greater simplicity in our own lives. Pope Francis I is not choosing the modern convenience that he has the privilege to experience but he is modeling simplicity. We should reflect on this in our own lives as well as encourage our students to reflect on being more simple and less focused on material things or personal recognition.
2. I think the message Pope Francis gave to the Cardinals the day after his election speaks also to each of us who are disciples of the Lord Jesus. He said:
“When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we proclaim Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly.”
He added, “We may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, all of this, but we are not disciples of the Lord.”
This message is worth our consideration as well. We who are members of Christ Body through Baptism and have been made new creatures in Christ must not walk the way of the world (although we live in the world) but we must be first disciples of the Lord which implies that we all have crosses to carry and sacrifices we can make to more fully be, as St. Paul said, “conformed to his death” (Phil.3:10). It’s important to share this message that following Jesus involves enduring challenges and making sacrifices.
3. Pope Francis said: “Oh, how I would like a poor Church, and for the poor.” I’m not exactly sure what he was thinking when we said he “would like a poor Church”, but suspect among other thoughts it’s a Church that approaches the Lord in a spirit of poverty not with pride or arrogance of “rights” deserving this or that. This goes for bishops, priests, Deacons, and the laity. All are to come with a spirit of poverty. Also, the constant mention of the poor in our world that we need to serve and to help. This means giving greater focus in our classrooms to how we can fulfill our mission to take care of the poor, to assist them, to be a source of support for them. Operation Rice Bowl, Serving at a homeless shelter, giving up some of our clothes (those that are not worn but in good condition) to help those less fortunate have a nice shirt, coat or pair of shoes for themselves. These are examples of things we could promote in our classrooms.
Pope Francis has certainly made a great impression on us all and he is a living witness of Christ. Let us continue to pray for Him and for the Church!
I want to share the following comments that Basalian Fr. Rosica made the day after Pope Francis’ election:
“And I close my eyes, and we shouldn’t make comparisons right away, but I couldn’t help but feel the presence of John XXIII, the smile of John Paul I, that courage and firmness of John Paul II and the solid-rootedness in Jesus Christ of Benedict XVI.
So what I found last night, and I thought about a long time when I finally got home at three o’clock this morning, is that the story continues: we have a pope and we have a shepherd and he’s going to build it on a solid foundation.“