photo credit: the guardian
Today I read several different excerpts from various publications of the August 2013 interview with Pope Francis from the America Magazine and tried to process the angles which were presented. I admit, several of the Holy Father’s points I found refreshingly honest and true, yet they simultaneously left me with a slight twist in my stomach as I wondered how some of these bold changes might look in the grand scheme of things.
But the words of Pope Francis are not revolutionary when you take the long view. Perhaps counter cultural as we would expect them to be, but not revolutionary in light of walking in the footsteps of Jesus. What was most comforting to me was how affirming his message is…not for one specific group or gender, but for all of us. One family. He is asking all of us to own our Catholic faith, not just for the sake of being Catholic, but being catholic. He is describing the Church as not a “small chapel for a select group of people,” but a “home for all.” He goes on to describe what spiritual fruitfulness must look like in those who participate in the life of the Church. “We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity. And the church is Mother; the church is fruitful. It must be. You see, when I perceive negative behavior in ministers of the church or in consecrated men or women, the first thing that comes to mind is: ‘Here’s an unfruitful bachelor’ or ‘Here’s a spinster.’ They are neither fathers nor mothers, in the sense that they have not been able to give spiritual life. Instead, for example, when I read the life of the Salesian missionaries who went to Patagonia, I read a story of the fullness of life, of fruitfulness.” (America Magazine, August 2013).
The every day people such as ourselves will not make headlines. But we are who our Holy Father has all his hopes placed upon. “I see the holiness in the patience of the people of God: a woman who is raising children, a man who works to bring home the bread, the sick, the elderly priests who have so many wounds but have a smile on their faces because they served the Lord, the sisters who work hard and live a hidden sanctity. This is for me the common sanctity. I often associate sanctity with patience: not only patience as hypomoné [the New Testament Greek word], taking charge of the events and circumstances of life, but also as a constancy in going forward, day by day.” (America Magazine, August 2013).
When asked about how he envisions the Church today, the Holy Father says “I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds…. And you have to start from the ground up.” (America Magazine, August 2013).
What a beautiful thing for us to ponder as we pray about our role in the New Evangelization. Everyone has a role to play, and there is room for all.
We are in good hands, friends. And more than that, if we love each other in Christian charity as Pope Francis is asking us to, we ourselves will truly be the hands and feet of Christ.
For the full article, visit: A Big Heart Open to God. What were your reflections of the interview? We’d love to hear about what struck you in the comments section below!