The air is electric here in Philly (as well as online). There are banners everywhere, from the airport, to streets, to local businesses, welcoming all the pilgrims. Additional buses, rail cars, food carts and even porta-potites are slowly converging on the city center as groups from all over the world “go rejoicing to the house of the Lord”. The transformation of a typical city to a Catholic hub is beautiful. It is hard not to get caught up in the craze. So let’s take a moment to put a few things in perspective so we don’t miss what God is doing.
Mission is the same
The goal of the church is the same goal as Jesus, yesterday, today, and forever: Love God, love people and build the kingdom. In a world of fads, let’s make sure to keep the focus on the prize – Jesus and bringing people to him. Or rather: bringing Jesus to the people. God came to us in the incarnation. The method modeled by Pope Francis of “accompanying” is still the same. The message, while inculturated into each local community, is still the same: the Gospel of love, mercy and truth.
Listen to our Shepherd
Pope Francis has put his mark on the church already. He comes from a poor Latin American country; he was raised in an immigrant family as the eldest of five children. He is also a religious priest (a Jesuit) who has lived in community with his brothers and has a broad and deep education. All of his unique life experiences shape his way of governing, shepherding, and pastoring in our 21st century church (here is a link to an insightful video on Pope Francis in this context by his biographer). When he comes to address the U.S., please don’t turn exclusively to the news anchor, or even Catholic articles (like this one). Go to the source: read his homilies yourself or, if you can, watch or listen using the new USA Catholic Church app made by the bishops conference. Go straight to the horse mouth.
We know how important the role of family plays in society. The Pope’s trip to the US is orchestrated around the World Meeting of Families. People just like you and I from over 100 countries gathered together as one to deepen our faith in Jesus and, from there, share it with the world. How does all this apply to your family?
Here are some thoughts:
Discerning? What steps have you taken to explore that option in the last month? Spoken with a vocations director? Initiated a date?
Married? When was the last time you surprised your spouse? Gone on a date? Told your spouse you love them?
Single? How are the relationships with your family community? Where are you called to serve your community?
Use this opportunity to share your Catholic Faith in Jesus:
We should be taking full advantage of the “Francis Frenzy”. Share the pictures, articles and sound bits online. Tune in at work or school. Let this start some great conversations. As Pope Francis stressed friendship in Cuba: “Why do we always throw a stone about that which divides us?” he said. “Let’s dare to talk about what we have in common.” Start with friendship and go from there.
The buzz is taking effect. The media is responding to the Pope’s visit with unprecedented enthusiasm and interest.. Will you let this moment pass by? Or will you be transformed by this historic visit? From the banners to the buzz, it’s clear that the Spirit is moving. This is our invitation to move along with Him.