Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pope Francis Afterglow: Esto es maravilloso

Pope Francis on his way to a final mass in Philadelphia.
Matt Rourke/AP photo.
  Esto es maravilloso.   This is marvelous.
Pope Francis on the profound abiding love of God for all people.  God is Love. When Francis says it, it radiates.  It  means something.

It's not that I'm a fervent religious person, but I am moved by Pope Francis and what he embodies, personifies and clarifies.  He embodies the values of family, la familia; of caring, the Common Good, the Golden Rule.  He personifies peace, justice, and good will.  He clarifies what it means to be compassionate and accepting of all people across ethnic backgrounds, ages, countries, religions. He is indeed the people's Pope.

Pope Francis effortlessly conquered the super great cities of New York and Philadelphia, after he had done the same in our nation's capital. These cities, each with its own history and greatness, are not easy to conquer, but they have never been so full of light, so luminous in spirit and hope.

CNN asked people to describe the Pope in three words.  The responses
were great!  Heart of Gold.  Caring, Compassionate, Humble.  God on Earth. Soul at Peace. Loves all People.  Changing Hearts Worldwide. Do Good Things.  Better than Beatles. Reluctant Rock Star. 

The Pope visited three cities in six days, attended over 20 events in a variety of awesome venues, spoke before the US Congress, at the UN, at the 9/11 Memorial. His message, his very being, was powerful, authentic, palpable, and touched so many. It was as if he had been in every city in our country.

Nor would this 78-year-old pontiff let the weakness of the flesh overcome his devotion to sharing God's love. There were times he looked exhausted, could barely go up and down stairs, get up from a chair, step into a group of people longing to be blessed. It was stunning to witness. Such unconditional love.

And those crowds! Those huge, enormous crowds!  Multitudes followed him everywhere, as if they were following in the footsteps of prophets like Jesus or Mohammed, or leaders like Martin Luther King or Mandela. Millions just wanted to be near him. Catholic and non-Catholic alike. Millions wanted to be blessed, accepted, understood, receive forgiveness, feel kindness and mercy.

It was overwhelming, and surprising, I think because we seldom hear the voices of these millions in the media, and certainly never as a full-blown chorus.  Media headlines scream evil, dishonesty, political intrique, war and terror at us.  We are daily fed manufactured news or profit-induced horror stories that distort reality.

So maybe not all Americans are blindly following Trump into oblivion, or the Tea Party into their next obstructionist political maneuver.  Maybe the American people are not, en masse, being led like sheep to the slaughter.  If those crowds meant anything, I think they meant that people are hungry for goodness and authenticity.  For truth.  For meaningful dialogue.  We are hungry for peace and justice in the world.

AP photo.
Now it's back to "normalcy."  It didn't take 24 hours.  After hearing the Pope, it churns my stomach to hear Putin's dissembling justifications for occupying Crimea and waging war in Ukraine. It hurts to hear about the refugee crisis created by Assad's war against his own people; about building fences to keep immigrants out; about POWs and journalists imprisoned; about human rights abuses and violence against women and children.

I'm trying to block out the noise, but it's hard.  I want to hang on to the good words and deeds of a good man, but I feel myself sliding down the slippery slope to despair. Remember the beauty of the Pope, I'm telling myself.  Remember that millions flocked to him, because there is good in the world, as well as evil.  "My peace I give you, my peace I leave you."  Francis Means Hope. 

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