Pope Francis spent several days here in the United States bringing people together and, hopefully, closer to God. This was really a nice time to be Catholic and to have such a pope.
He is gone, and has left behind many wonderful and thought-provoking teachings; in each homily or talk, the pope exemplified simplicity as he put forward the teachings of the gospel. I believe that only a few will disagree with this, especially in the Catholic world. The question for us to ponder is this: and now what?
As members of the Church, what precisely we should do is to excel in our profession of faith. If the message of the pope, which is not different from what we believe, remains only a message… then it bears no fruit. Recall the parable of the seed: it must fall to the ground if it is to live and bear fruit.
The pope spoke to different audiences, with varying roles in our society. He addressed a multitude of topics of importance for the world. What I am asking you to do is to revisit (or look for the first time at) the talks, homilies, and papal message, and see which concerns are particularly close to your heart: poverty, family, immigration, climate change – and act accordingly.
We have always known that it is true, but now more than ever we are convinced that our faith is not only beautiful words, but words that must be acted upon, that must be lived.
What I am asking you to do is to consider how to assist the visit of Pope Francis, so that his message of hope and mercy will not be lost in our lives as some nice memoir of his visit, but as a wake-up call to take action regarding what we hold dear.
“The Gospels tell us how many people came up to Jesus to ask: ‘Master, what must we do?’ The first thing that Jesus does in response is to propose, to encourage, to motivate. He keeps telling his disciples to go, to go out. He urges them to go out and meet others where they really are, not where we think they should be. Go out, again and again; go out without fear, without hesitation. Go out and proclaim this joy, which is for all the people.” (Homily at Madison Square Garden)
Pope Francis, in his visit to our land, has encouraged and motivated us. Now we need to go out. . .yes, to go out to proclaim the joy of the gospel. I truly believe that this is just the beginning of a journey of faith that we need to take seriously, but with joy.