I haven’t had an opportunity to see all Francis’ speeches or read through them yet, but I have kept up with the highlights of his visit to the United States. I don’t know how you’ve reacted to what the Vicar of Christ has had to say, but his words have certainly made me squirm a bit and somewhat uncomfortable. I find his words refreshing – not that he is saying anything new, - saying things I haven’t heard before. I find them a refreshing reminder of our baptismal call as disciples of Jesus Christ, children of the One God: Father of us all. He, who’s Holy Spirit fills us, so we may live in His love.
Francis reminds us to love one another as we are loved by God. He reminds us that we are called to express our love for God in how well we love “The Other” – the least of His children: the poor, the vulnerable, the forgotten. Our love of God is made manifest in our love for those who are helpless, lost and despairing – the ones damaged by life and left behind by the grind of this world.
Francis reminds us that we are God’s heralds – called to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. Jesus’ message of salvation and reconciliation with God, our Father needs to be heard by everyone. His disciples are called, - we are called, - to go out into the world, especially those dark lonely corners - to bring His Good News to our brothers and sisters trapped in the grip of the evil one. We are called to speak the words of truth and life in the shadows, so those who live in despair may find hope and walk in the light of Christ.
(And) Just as God gave Adam responsibility for care of the Garden of Eden and all the plants and animals that dwell within, His Holiness reminds us of our responsibility of the stewardship of the God’s gift of this world. This too, is how we love God in our love for one another, by ensuring that this gift to all people – our earthly home – is kept healthy, vibrant and nurturing - for all people today and for all future generations – until the Lord returns to bring us into our new home – His heavenly kingdom. How well we care for our earthly home and share its bounty with one another is our legacy of love for our children, their children and their children’s children - until the end time.
By the crowds we see wherever the Pope goes we encouraged by how he inspires people, this remarkable man, this Vicar of Christ. Francis attracts so many by his life of love for others and his humble simplicity. As far as discipleship goes – Francis is the real thing!
It is our hope and prayer that the upsurge of attention Francis brings to the Catholic Church will translate into genuine conversions, returns and renewals in Jesus Christ and His Church. But Francis cannot do this alone. He encourages each one of us to follow the words of our Lord and Savior, to live out our baptism, by going forth to “make disciples of all nations.” Francis reminds us that we are called by Jesus to bring the Good News to the world.
This is what I find refreshing in the words of Francis – his reminder of that Jesus calls all of us to live out our vocation as disciples by loving as we are loved by sharing His Word of salvation, so all might be saved. ~Amen.