Sunday, September 27, 2015

With Faithfulness and Justice

Lo, I will rescue my people from the land of the rising sun, and from the land of the setting sun. I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem. They shall be my people, and I will be their God, with faithfulness and justice.  Zechariah 8:7-8

Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.”  Luke 9:47-48

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
― Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

A “rock star” departed from Philadelphia International Airport Sunday night en route to Rome.  When he lands Monday morning, he will be the lowly @Pontifex once again.  Although greeted by millions in his direct audiences and hundreds of millions in TV Land, the humility of the Holy Father shone through every day of his short trip to Cuba and the United States. 

His refrain was the same.  Pray always – especially for him.  Know Jesus.  Serve the Lord by serving the people with humility for the least.  He passed up a Capitol Hill luncheon to dine with the homeless in Washington.  He kissed the children who were afflicted and in wheelchairs.  He blessed the injured policeman.  He blessed the Speaker of the House, the President, the Mayor of New York and countless nuns, deacons, priests, bishops and lay people.
We do not need a reflection on this message written for today.  We had six days to reflect on this message as it was reflected in the piety, study and action lived by Pope Francis in Washington, New York and Philadelphia.  “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me.” 

The media was constantly trying to shoe-horn the papal message into boxes labelled “left” and “right.”  “Liberal” and “Conservative.”  “Democratic” and “Republican.”  Pope Francis would not fall for any of the short-term headline writers’ temptation.  He knows that rivalry between factions is not consistent with Christian discipleship.  Neither is intolerance.  That is why he consistently preached to welcome the stranger – because all of our families started out as immigrants.

Our challenge now is to live his Gospel message as disciples.  Or just go back to being fans of a rock star. 

“The spiritual life is first of all a life. It is not merely something to be known and studied, it is to be lived.” (Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude)

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