By now, I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of coverage of political races, debates, memes on Facebook, Tweets, and instant images on social media and television. With so many newsworthy items happening in the past few months, I’m sure our attention is thirsting for something more positive and uplifting. For my family, and it seems for every practicing, non-practicing, or cradle Roman Catholic living in the United States, we have been fixated on the current visit of Pope Francis I to the east coast of our great nation. As I mentioned, there is a lot of coverage on political figures, and the papal visit to our country has been one where politicians (including our President) gravitated toward for reasons only they know. I thought about it as I listened to a sermon at church the other day talking about the Holy Father’s visit, and indeed about the man himself. There’s a lot to say about this Pope, and it had me thinking. What makes Pope Francis such an endearing man to follow? Isn’t he just like the other pope’s that preceded him? In answer to my own questions, I found answers from folks who themselves are not necessarily from a Roman Catholic background. An op-ed piece written in The Freeman, there are seven qualities that make Pope Francis I such an endearing person to watch (see full article at http://www.philstar.com/freeman-opinion/2015/01/16/1413493/seven-endearing-qualities-pope-francis). While I liked all the reasons the article listed, I selected a few that stood out most to me.
- He is very much like any one of us. When you look at his childhood, his experiences growing up, and himself as a man, you are faced with a history that looks just like your average person living next door or who you may encounter on the street or at the supermarket. He is really just “one of us.”
- He is very down-to-earth. In his life as a priest, and even now as pope, he is as down-to-earth as they come. He chose not to drive fancy vehicles as his pope mobile, he chooses to live in more humble dwelling, he enjoys talking with anyone and everyone he meets as if they are the most important person in the world in his circle, and he chooses simplicity as opposed to flashiness in his appearance. He is, simply put, humble pie.
- He began his religious profession as a teacher, much like Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI, his predecessors. As a teacher, he was in touch with youth and young people, and he chose this profession of teaching because he believed all deserved a chance at a better life. That better life was born only with education. He knew and understood what it meant to work and study hard and smart.
- He had several health issues as a youth, and yet he continued on. He finds solidarity and union with the poor, the sick, and the old, as well as the young. Why? Because he was once in their shoes and is, in many ways, still in their shoes. He has not forgotten them. And my personal favorite…
- He loves his momma! Pope Francis I demonstrates this love in his devotion to the Virgin Mary. A man who loves his mother (biological or spiritual), is a man who honors a woman who has done much for him. That in itself speaks to a mother’s heart… my heart.
We live in times where anything that is “good” raises an eyebrow in suspicion. A world renowned religious figure such as Pope Francis I is no exception. It is little wonder why so many have don their research, followed, and tried to spend a great deal of time in the Holy Father’s company. He seems too good to be true. Rather than trying to find out if anything is “behind” this man of faith, I choose to be glad that he is pointing the way to a source of goodness and light, love and peace, that cannot be attained through cynicism, selfishness, or despair. What Pope Francis I has done is simply re-state the obvious and reminded us of our duty as a human race: Care for one another, care for our physical world, be fair and honest, and “love one another.”
In my book series, The Last Prophet, the main character, the prophetess Dr. Sophia Randall, reminds each person she encounters of this, and in fact it is the constant message she must deliver to those who as why she was chosen as the messenger. It is this same message of loving one another and caring for each other that the angel protectors deliver to those they encounter in the book series as well. The reason is simple: it is what we were made for. We were made for each other, meaning we were created to take care of one another, rather than use, abuse, or harm. Whether it is human to human, human to beast, or even the environment, the series draws our attention to the need to take care of our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual world around us and every creature residing in it. This was and is the Pope’s message now. We each have a responsibility to our world and to our neighbor. Whether our neighbor lives next door, in another state, or even another country, must not only be concerned for them, but take action and “do our part” every day.
What are you doing to show your care and concern for your “neighbor?” Is there “more” you can do as your part each day? Please comment in the space provided.
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