These days near Holy Week, the readings reminds us of God’s covenant with the Hebrew people, despite their infidelity. God continues to renew a covenant with you and I, despite our unfaithfulness. When God makes a covenant with us, God says, “I will love you with an everlasting love. I will be faithful to you, even when you run away from me, reject me, or betray me.”
This is such good news to me. I am awed and humbled at God’s laboring love through the Church in recent days. Pope Francis’ simplicity, genuineness, humility, and holiness is a profound example of God’s goodness for me. Yes, it’s only been ten days since he was chosen Pope; yes, he is just a human being; yes, we don’t know if the temptations of his office will gradually lessen his integrity. But the Pope’s personally calling his newspaper kiosk owner and the Jesuit General, inviting to morning Mass Vatican gardeners, street sweepers, kitchen staff and maids working at the hotel where he is currently staying, and celebrating Holy Thursday Mass (with feet washing) in a juvenile prison magnify God’s goodness to us. This morning, he eschewed the padded papal kneeler prepared for him and chose to kneel side by side with his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict. Pope Francis said “No! we are brothers, we pray together!” This togetherness manifests God’s covenant with us – the “coming together” of God and us.
I am amazed at how many people have been positively affected by Pope Francis, especially people who have “allergies” or disaffected by Catholicism. Twelve out of forty-seven people at St Monica’s Parish in Santa Monica chose “Francis” for their confirmation name as they enter into full communion with the Catholic Church this Easter. I don’t know what else Pope Francis will do or fail to do in the future, he has already helped magnify God’s faithful goodness in these past ten days. That has already moved me to tears and inspires me to be a better person, a better Jesuit priest, a better priest, a better friend of the poor and marginalized.
Lord, help me to be grounded in your goodness, beyond my fears and failures, as we enter the most Holy of Weeks.