S. Janet Gildea writes of Evoking Our ‘Yes’ in the latest issue of E-Voc, the electronic newsletter from the Vocation Team of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati for single women wondering what new thing God is calling forth in their lives.
What does Pope Francis evoke in you? Did you find yourself glued to the television last month to watch his arrival, his address to Congress, the United Nations or any of the major liturgical celebrations? Were your social media contacts buzzing about what he did or said (or didn’t do or didn’t say)? Were you able to travel to see him in person? We could almost wonder aloud as Jesus did about his cousin, John the Baptist, “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing?” (Mt. 11:7-8) What is it about Pope Francis that captured your attention or tapped into the hopes and desires of your heart?
No doubt the message of the pope attracts because it is the message of Jesus. He invites and includes as Jesus did. He has a big abrazo (embrace)! Believers and non-believers, traditionalists and progressives, heads of state and homeless persons are welcome. Pope Francis also animates and challenges like Jesus. As several news commentators remarked, “He calls us to the angels of our better nature.” He doesn’t sugarcoat the Gospel or back away from controversial Church teachings. But he holds out hope that we all can continually try to attain those ideals and still be welcome when we fall short or even disagree.
Perhaps our pope’s strongest appeal comes from his actions. When we see a 78-year-old Jesuit bend low to wash feet – women’s feet, prisoners’ feet, Muslim feet, deformed feet – to dry them and to kiss them, to look deep into the eyes that belong to those feet and to give a beautiful smile before moving on, we hear the command to love one another and to follow Jesus on his self-emptying way. We recognize our own heart’s impulse to generous service. Then Pope Francis evokes our “Yes!” to respond wholeheartedly to God’s call.