This summer my sister went to Italy. It reminded me of a past trip when my wife and I visited that country. Italy was a terrific trip filled with wonderful sites, places, foods, and people. The highlight of our trip wasn’t actually in Italy but in the Vatican. Spending only one day at the Vatican was not enough, but it was a memorable day that I cannot forget. During this day I was star struck; not only did I get to hear Pope Francis, but I got to see him up-close (only 5 or 6 feet away). This pic of the Pope was taken by me using my iPhone. Seeing him was awesome, hearing his message was just as important. I could try to summarize his message, but I found a much better summary by Junno Arocho Esteves – Catholic News Service:
VATICAN CITY (CNS)—God did not choose perfect people to form his church, but rather sinners who have experienced his love and forgiveness, Pope Francis said. The Gospel of Luke’s account of Jesus forgiving the sinful woman shows how his actions went against the general mentality of his time, a way of thinking that saw a “clear separation” between the pure and impure, the pope said Aug. 9 during his weekly general audience. “There were some scribes, those who believed they were perfect,” the pope said. “And I think about so many Catholics who think they are perfect and scorn others. This is sad.” Although Jesus’ love toward the sick and the marginalized “baffles his contemporaries,” it reveals God’s heart as the place where suffering men and women can find love, compassion and healing, Pope Francis said. “How many people continue today in a wayward life because they find no one willing to look at them in a different way, with the eyes—or better yet—with the heart of God, meaning with hope,” he said. But “Jesus sees the possibility of a resurrection even in those who have made so many wrong choices.” Oftentimes, the pope continued, Christians become accustomed to having their sins forgiven and receiving God’s unconditional love while forgetting the heavy price Jesus paid by dying on the cross. By forgiving sinners, Jesus doesn’t seek to free them from a guilty conscience, but rather offers “people who have made mistakes the hope of a new life, a life marked by love,” the pope said. The church is a people formed “of sinners who have experienced the mercy and forgiveness of God,” Pope Francis said. Christians are “all poor sinners” who need God’s mercy, “which strengthens us and gives us hope.”
As part of our faith plan, we are challenged to ‘be mindful and be prayerful’ throughout the year. Pope Francis’ words make me mindful of God’s unconditional love, mindful that I am a sinner, mindful of God’s mercy, and mindful of every present hope of a new life in Christ’s love. As a teacher and principal of Father Leonard Van Tighem School, and as a member of the Catholic faith community of Lethbridge, I will be using Pope Francis’ message to be mindful of God’s presence.
Also, I wish everyone a blessed Thanksgiving as we thank God for the many gifts we have received.