Pope Francis, Pope Francis, what do you see? I don’t know why that children’s book popped into my mind brown bear being replaced with of all people, Pope Francis. When I started to think more about it, it stated to make a little more sense, in a way. I guess I am wondering what he sees when he looks at the world as a whole and in its parts and what he see when looking right in front of him on any given day. His decisions affect not only a billion plus Catholics, but his presence seems to ripple through non-catholics and even non-religious, non-spiritual people. His presence, not his words maybe, but his presence. Why?
You could look at the statistics and say he holds sway over his flock which is large, so he ends up garnering attention because of sheer volume, much like a president of a large country. He of course, has no country to rule, but much like the Dalai Lama, his voice has impact. I don’t particularly buy into the notion of papal infallibility, I think it a manmade invention and all you have to do is take an honest look at papal history and you would be hard-pressed to disagree. But the office and THIS Pope, does turn our heads, we pause and cock our heads – even briefly – to listen to what he might have to say.
What does he represent? Some say he has big shoes to fill with the legacies of two sainted Popes in very recent history. Altho I too loved JPII, I struggled with his conservatism and handling of the sex abuse scandal and yet he was made a saint. Why? Again, why his voice? And similarly, why Francis’ voice? Catholics are called to holiness, I would say all people are called to holiness, to fulfill our highest potential and maybe these 2 new saints got as close as one could get. Maybe in Francis we see the same light. Pope Francis, Pope Francis who do you see? He sees us and we see him and we are one in the same. So maybe we hope that when we look at him, we are a reflection of what he is and we hope, we really hope he is a little better than we think we are.
An old friend called last night out of the blue, I hadn’t spoken to her in 20 years. She is at the end of her rope with health issues, kid issues and she is getting on in years. I asked her why she called, how could I help her? She told me her story and said she needed spiritual guidance and thought of me. I was surprised, spirituality is my passion, my quest, but I have never claimed any ability to guide anyone, I am just coming to terms with my spiritual wandering myself. But, I could tell she was looking for someone to listen to her and what I think the big thing was, to give her hope. Not false hope and promises, not that everything would be fine, but that it would all still be manageable, that her suffering had a purpose and she has made progress in this lifetime, spiritual progress. I think she also wanted relief, a wall of protection between her and her problems even if just for a moment. And maybe hope that someone could summon up the strength to pray for her and that that would help. I offered my prayers and some thoughts on protecting herself, she seemed happier.
Pope Francis, is that what you do on a grand scale? Give us hope? When we look at you do we see hope for the future and when you look at us, do you see the same? And are we all looking for someone to hide behind sometimes, so we can get a break from life’s trials? You have shown the world you can touch a womans feet, a muslims feet, a lepers feet, a disabled persons feet and it is ok, you were ok – maybe in your humility you are saying we too are not as bad as we feel sometimes, that we are all the same. You give me hope – a little anyway.
Photo: AP/L’Osservatore Romano