How will we keep the fires of enthusiasm and excitement alive?
What a joyful time for the Church in America! On September 22, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, set foot on U.S. soil for the first time.
That Wednesday, I watched early in the morning as the pope’s cavalcade of vehicles made its way to the White House to be greeted by President and Mrs. Obama. As the cars grew close – the pope’s modest Fiat dwarfed and surrounded by the larger black SUVs – one of the network color commentators remarked, with certain smugness I found to be decided American – this was the U.S. The secret service certainly wouldn’t let Francis pull any shenanigans, like getting out of the car and wading into the crowd.
What did our pope do? He got out of the car and waded into the crowd. The commentator remained quiet for an obvious amount of time.
How wonderful to see the masses of people standing for hours, trying to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis, hoping to fall under the grace of a papal blessing. The excitement and enthusiasm of the crowds throughout have been tangible. I’ve watched in fascination, amazed that so many gathered were of a different faith, or had none at all.
What charisma this man exudes…what hope he holds out for a such a weary world! No wonder we are filled with excitement. His presence, albeit for a short time, serves to unify rather than divide. Of course it’s exciting because, in the moment, we were one.
That made me wonder how we might sustain that excitement; how do we build on the momentum? If we were honest, we might ask ourselves why do we not express the same kind of joy over the presence of Jesus in our lives?
And how will our lives now express our love and faith in Christ, and each other, once the pope goes home?
No doubt, the words of Pope Francis inspire us. He chides to care for the poor, to consider the plight of migrants, to respect life at all stages and to care for our home, the earth, among other things. He boldly proclaims a message of peace and love.
Where, some might ask, does the pope come up with these amazing, yet at times radical, concepts, especially during a era when the world often begs to differ?
Easy…the pope speaks the words of Jesus and nudges of each to the same action of which the Lord spoke often. Pope Francis wants us to be enthusiastic about our faith – to not only mouth the words but to be moved to great deeds. Large or small, all deeds done in the name of our Lord have the potential to be great, to be life-changers.
So where do we fall on the excitement meter now that the only thing that’s left is the clean-up. How will we put our faith into action? Or, have we allowed ourselves to fall back in that great abyss of apathy in regard to our faith and what it teaches?
When Pope Francis addressed Congress on Sept. 24, he reminded us all that, "It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society."
How strong is our voice of fraternity? How have we worked to bring out the best in each other today?
Going forward, how excited will we be over the presence of Christ in our lives?