Once in a while all the confusion and complexity of the world is rolled back, and we can see into the human heart. I believe the choice of a new Pope is one of those times.
If only for a little while, the crowd that fills the Vatican and the media that broadcasts the new Pope’s appearance converge to send the rest of us a message: a deep hunger runs through humanity–the hunger that the ways of God might be realized on this planet.
The challenges facing the Roman Catholic Church will return soon enough, and the rejection of religion by those who think God is an impediment to progress will be back on the scene–but for a little while—an “if only” has its moment. And the whole world clings to it.
The religious and secular media will write and reflect on the new Pope’s choice of his name: Francis. They will delve into his history in Argentina, a history apparently marked by the spirit of St. Francis: humility, simplicity, and love. And they will speculate as to the ways his personal predispositions, together with the fresh promptings of the Holy Spirit, will direct “the faithful” in the coming years.
But as we watched with interest and even with emotion, we can thank God for reminding us through this ecclesial act that our hearts, when unencumbered, still sigh, “If only these things could be the tone and the trajectory for the world.”
Let us pray for the new Pope: “Lord have mercy! Christ have mercy!” Let us pray the Lord’s Prayer, even as the new Pope led the world in the praying of it today. And let us, whether Roman Catholic or not, commit ourselves anew to the Gospel incarnated in Christ, lived by St.Francis, and now manifested in Pope Francis I.