Unless you live way off the grid, you know this has been the week of the Pope. I will admit to being skeptical two and a half years ago when he took his place at the head of the church. But his consistent humility, his concern for marginalized citizens of the world, his apparent love for children, and more have won me over.
I believe, as my friend said last week, that he is a force for good. And we need as many forces for good as we can get.
What has he reminded us?
We need to care about others, especially others who really need our help. Whether it's a child, a refugee, an elderly person, we need to notice them and their vulnerability and offer them our protection, our assistance or just our love. It's an act of not always thinking of ourselves first or what's in it for me? Caring and compassion for others always becomes compassion and caring for ourselves eventually.
We should strive to see ourselves in others and remember the saying "there, but for the grace of God, go I." If you've worked hard and been successful, good for you. But always remember that everything of this earth is temporal. A hurricane like Sandy or Katrina can blow it all away. A random virus or tyrant can make it all irrelevant. Even a hurtful remark can open a wound that doesn't heal making life very hard indeed.
This pope took the name of Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment and whose famous peace prayer says "for it is in giving that we receive." Pope Francis has reminded us of the necessity to live in harmony with the environment.
Is he perfect? Well, as a Catholic, I suppose should say yes but I prefer to quote the pontiff himself and say, "Who am I to judge?"
He's a man. So is the Dalai Lama. So is any leader of a religion, a nation, or even a company. We will always find things to disagree about with other men and women. And Pope Francis has some views that I disagree with. But I think his driving motivation is that we need to find out how to love each other. With that, we'll be okay.
This week, look for what you have in common with others. Look with a loving heart.