This has been an historic week for the Church in America.
We have been visited by four popes but none have ever spoken before Congress or had so much contact with the leaders of our nation or our culture at large.
The commentators are amazed at the crowds who went to great lengths just to see him. Even the jaded New Yorkers have been turning out in huge numbers.
I’ve always believed like St. Ambrose that
Where there is Peter there is the Church
Jesus put St. Peter in charge of the Church
with all his faults and failings he made St. Peter the chief shepherd of our church.
Pope Francis is the direct descendant of St. Peter and hence he is our shepherd or He is Peter for us today
So we can say
Where there is Francis there is the Church and I will follow him.
Many of the commentators noted that the simple way that Pope Francis presents himself speaks almost as loudly as what he has to say.
There was almost a comic moment when a regal trumpet fanfare was blaring from the balcony of the White House and a little Fiat drove up. Just that moment was a message in itself.
There were several themes that reminded which hit home for us. .
It was obvious that the Holy Father wanted to remind us that our country is built on the sacrifices of immigrants and in doing so he also reminded us that we have to respond to the question of immigration as God would have us do.
He also made clear that we have an obligation to care for the environment that God has given us and expressed his belief that humanity has the power to damage our world for future generations
He reminded us that all human life at every stage of development is precious and sacred and deserves our loving care especially those most vulnerable.
He warned us that money and the economy should not be our primary focus for they do not guarantee that we will live holy lives,
He brought me to tears as he spoke in St. Patrick’s Cathedral about the privilege of being a priest and the need for us to works hard and sacrifice to save souls.
He said all these things humbly, and respectfully without anger or resentment and he mentioned over and over again the need for dialog. Which means that it is important for all of us especially the Church to learn to both listen and speak.
As world our culture becomes more and more polarized.
our conversations become louder and angrier.
There always seems to be more speaking than listening
The divisions were crystal clear when one half of the congress would stand up and cheer and the other would sit in silent resentment.
It looked to me that some got caught off guard.
They were standing when our holy father spoke about defending life but had to quickly fall to their chairs because he almost immediately switched to the being against the death penalty and they were still clapping.
The texts of our Holy Fathers talks will provide us with lots of food for thought and we are in the process of putting them all on our parish website.
In the near term his example should cause us all to reflect on how we interact with others especially those who we don’t agree with.
When Pope Francis left the House of Representatives everyone who heard him did not become pro life or anti-death penalty or pro immigrants and he was not offended by that.
His example should encourage us to never be afraid to speak the truth gently and respectfully even with those who don’t agree with us.
Our conversation in our families should be respectful and patient.
Our conversations at Bella’s or at the Whole Donut or McDonalds should be should be truthful, gentle and open. (especially McDonalds that’s where half the parish senior citizens gather to share town news on a regular basis)
The conversations in our parking lot when parents are waiting to pick up their kids from Religious Ed and St. Paul Schoo should build up rather than tear down.
We shouldn’t be afraid to charitably enter into dialog with people who we know have different beliefs and live different lifestyles.
Let’s find and accent what unites us rather than always starting with what divides us.
Our Holy Father’s visit should teach us all that If we only surround ourselves only with people who agree with us we will indeed be poorer rather richer.
Let’s be a more humble church, a more gentle church
Let’s charitably and calmly engage our culture with the revealed truths of Christ with our fear.
Let’s always try to listen as much as we speak when we find ourselves embroiled in controversy or disagreement
Let us not be afraid to try to find common ground with those who disagree with us.
In today’s Gospel Jesus told his disciples
“ whoever is not against us is for us.”
This week our Holy Father has taught us that best way to keep people from being against us
the best way of bringing the message of Christ,
is to humbly, patiently, lovingly, dialog with them.
Let us Go and do the same.
During the time of Jesus there is Peter there is the Church
In 2015 where there is Francis there is the Church
Thank you Lord for bringing Peter / Francis into our midst
Guide, comfort him, Inspire Him. Protect Him always Amen