From the Pastor’s Desk ~ September 27, 2015

Saturday, September 19, 2015 Pope Francis arrived in Havana, Cuba for a three day visit, celebrating Mass for the people, visiting with civic leaders and Fidel Castro, the former president of the country throughout a very full schedule. Cuba faces innumerable challenges, even among its Catholic population, only a small percentage of people regularly attend Mass. Over the week, I’m sure you have listened to news broadcasts, watched televised coverage, followed tweets or text messages on what he has said and done. You will have listened intently to his address to Congress this past week and the challenges he placed before our representatives, the president and our country. I am writing this column before our bulletin deadline, before some of these events happen. Rocco Palmo wrote in this blog “Whispers in the Loggia,” it is very hard to predict what he will say, how he will say it and when he will say it.” Clearly, the Pope is more than a single sound bite; he is more than one homily, speech or public appearance. However, he has a consistent message to express to the world as we anticipate the Year of Mercy beginning on the First Sunday of Advent.
What I continue to see in him is his genuine concern for people, all people. As he spoke to the people of Cuba and the world last Sunday from Reuters News Service, he preached, “Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people,” the pope said in his homily. “Do not neglect them (others) for plans which can be seductive, but are unconcerned about the face of the person beside you.”
There is no hidden agenda, no attempt at manipulating others, he simply tells people the truth, conveying a message to the world that we cannot simply continue doing business in the world as usual ways, in the same way as we have done. There are huge complicated issues to deal with, but it starts with being attentive to the individual person, being respectful to the other, listening carefully to people in need. He continues to touch hearts, to encourage people to persevere and find courage in their faith.
In last Sunday’s Gospel the apostles were arguing over who was the greatest. Who was the greatest Apostle and that is an interesting argument. Jesus knew their hearts, knew their minds and turned their argument upside down. “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” And then he placed a child in their midst. “Whoever receives one such child as this receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me, but the One who sent me.”
As Pope Francis is willing to receive the child, the poor, the refugee, the migrant, how can we receive the child in our midst? How do we welcome and receive one another? Let’s see what happens in Philadelphia.
Father Larry Hendel

Posted in From the Pastor's desk.