We live in a vast nation that prides itself in its diversity despite generations of hostility and fear and prejudice for what is different. That is why the welcome and the coverage of the visit of Pope Francis to the United States is so unusual and comprehensive and gratifying. Watching his arrival in Washington this afternoon and the fact that most stations devoted enormous coverage of the events was uplifting as a Catholic. I pray that his visit with us be one of safety, health and spiritual challenge.
Everyone wants to know what he is going to say and do, what issues will he challenge our leaders and the representatives of the world with, and the reaction of our society and politicans to his message. Sometimes I find the commentators frustrating in their "analysis" and words of prophetic controversy, even Raymond Arroyo and his companions at EWTN.
I enjoy the posts by Bishop Lynch of Saint Petersburg, Florida. In today's, entitled "The Barque of Peter Arrives on the Shores of the U.S.", he had this to say about how we as Catholics should be attentive to the message of Francis in these next few days. He says:
" ... listen to the Pope and carefully read and ponder what he has to say. Agendas abound for this visit but there is only one which really matters and that belongs to the Successor of St. Peter, Francis. His is a message of "yes" and not "no". His is a message of God's love for every human being and not just for those who feel they have it made. His is a message of mercy, not punishment. His is a message of sharing not hoarding. His is a message of inclusion, not exclusion. His is a message of joy in the Gospel, not burdens. His is a message of relief, not bondage. Listen to him - this immigrant to our shores, as he opens the vision of Jesus to all humankind. Don't let the "spin-doctors" spoil the moment - one of the greatest for Catholicism in my lifetime."
I wholeheartedly agree. We live in a world of many talking heads, of opinions that are rooted in the greatness of the one expounding them, of an intolerance of others. I spoke this past Sunday about the basic truth of the Gospel message, which Francis bases his life and message on. It is stated well in the Collect of last Sunday, the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. I repeat it here because it is important to keep before our eyes and in our hearts.
"O God, who founded all the commandments of your sacred Law upon love of you and of our neighbor, grant us, by keeping your precepts, we may merit to attain eternal life."
"THE" God given Law, rooted in the love of God first and then of neighbor (not self) must guide our lives ... and by keeping to that Law we may attain to that life that is unending and filled with ultimate happiness. I look forward to hearing and witnessing that message of love in the visit of Pope Francis. I hope that you do as well.