I have attempted to sit down and post following the return to Rome of our Holy Father Pope Francis, but could not find the words to express my heart. I can delay no longer.
The visit of the Holy Father to the United States was powerfully moving to me. I must admit that I was a bit fearful that the people of this nation would be unconcerned and unmoved by this papal visit, and relegate it to the "showy but unimportant news of the day". I was pleasantly surprised by the coverage and by the interest of so many, catholics and those of other faiths and those of no faith. And the coverage was generally very balanced. The Church was center stage and the Holy Father was the catalyst. And his messages, rooted in the simple Gospel message of love, were listened to and affected many lives. He gave us an invitation to re-group and recommit ourselves to the building up of the Kingdom of God. But he has gone home and things are back to normal - routine - broken. Even before he left this nation, the political parties were at each other, after having listened to the inspiring words to Congress by the Holy Father ... as were the candidates for our highest office, whose attacks of each other do little to exhibit respect and civility in the public forum. Confrontation rather than cooperation was the mode of the day at the U.N General Assembly after he spoke to them. The call to end the death penalty was met with the execution of a woman in one of the States. And another sensless shooting at a college campus brought violence into our homes once again. Words that he spoke and actions that he took were being used to promote agendas. A desecration of the shrine of our newest saint - Junipero Serra - by protesters last weekend at the Mission of Saint Charles Borromeo in Carmel was cruel. And I find a sense of hope, which he called us to, to be a difficult comodody to find.
But what he said was so simple and so necessary for us to hear:
We are loved by God ... we are sought by God, he waits for us ... our Father will not be outdone in generosity ... we must have an openness to God ... we must respect each other, and find ways to work together through diologue to meet the challenges that confront us ... we must be generous with our blessings, for that generosity is itself a blessing ... we must be people of hope ... and people filled with gratitude at the rich heritage and traditions that this nation is founded upon. The positive challenges continue to resonate with those whose hearts are open.
As I reread his words and rejoice in his actions as a pastor, I see hope and joy that will spur us on to do greater things. May our openness to God continue to guide our lives in the days ahead, for without witnesses like us, I fear for the life of this nation and the world community. And they have been entrusted to us for stewardship. We must embrace our roles of servant leaders.