In almost every conversation around the USA this week, comments about the visit of Pope Francis abound. Before he arrived speculation about his message ran high. A man full of surprises, when asked about what he would say to Americans, he responded: “I just want to visit them.” Clearly, just in his presence from the moment he emerged waving from the plane, this first purpose has been achieved. The joy of the crowds, the smiles on the faces of dignitaries and children, the hope that his very being inspires goes far beyond the members of his own Church to all those desiring a better world. But Francis will not leave this country without speaking his mind. This modern day prophet will likely challenge our country to do a better job in caring for the poor and for our environment. His tone will not be one of judgment or condemnation for failure, if we can judge by past statements about mercy and forgiveness. We are wise to listen deeply for universal concerns in his speech which nevertheless are applicable to our personal lives as well.
Let us give thanks for the Spirit of God shining through this simple man who gives so much hope to so many and gives example of carrying the weight of the world with prayerful demeanor and a dazzling smile.