Dear Fr. Rick: You must be really psyched about our new Pope Francis, aren’t you? I think he rocks! T. from Pittsburgh
Yes, he certainly, absolutely and unequivocally rocks! LOL I love Pope Francis! I believe he is a humble, authentic man of God who loves his priestly ministry and sees his new calling as a call to be a loving shepherd to the whole world.
Pope Francis loves the poor. His heart is with those who are most in need. When he chose to visit a juvenile prison on Holy Thursday and stooped down to wash the feet of the inmates, I and much of the world was blown away. But to watch him do it, it seemed like just a natural part of who is. It almost seemed like he couldn’t possibly be anywhere else on such a holy day but with those who have been rejected and are most in need.
There have been other examples of his servant leadership but let me just stick with Holy Thursday and say more. Holy Thursday is the day we celebrate three things: the gift of the Holy Eucharist, the great lesson of humble love in Jesus who washes the feet of the apostles, and the amazing the gift of the priesthood. Usually the pope and many other bishops end up focusing mainly on priesthood, addressing the priests in the congregation, washing their feet and ministering to them. But instead of using that day to minister to his priests, our new Holy Father used that day to show his priests what they are to do and who they are called to be, just like Jesus did when He washed the feet of Peter so many years ago.
It makes so much sense in retrospect that it seems like the obvious choice. He showed his priests what he expects of them, namely, to seek out and humbly serve those most in need.
My hunch is that our new Holy Father is going to continue to surprise us and shake us up with moves like that. And then after he does something that seems radical at the time, like the visit to the prison on Holy Thursday, we are going to look back upon it and reflect on how good and right and how fitting it was.
Pope Francis is rewriting church history a day at a time. He is leading us by example just like St. Francis of Assisi did and Jesus did before him.