Pope Francis has touched the hearts of millions of people around the world with his message of love, compassion, simplicity and most of all empathy.
He has refused to judges others, emphatically placing the church as a haven for sinners, the sidelined, forgotten and marginalized.
At the risk of being misunderstood, he has gone to the extent of refusing to condemn homosexuals, stating that salvation is for all men and women who have faith.
He is a man who has chosen to live his faith by opening the church, giving it a fresh impetus to evangelize with a mission that is contemporary and yet rooted and relevant to traditions and teachings of the forebearers.
Pope Francis is a man of hope, determination and infinite optimism stating “However great our limits and our losses, we are not allowed to be weak and vacillating in the face of difficulties and our own weaknesses.” On the contrary, he said, we are called to be strong, “to strengthen the hands, to make firm the knees, to have courage and not be afraid, because our God always shows the greatness of His mercy.” With His help, we can start anew and overcome sadness and tears, we can “sing a new song.”
He has gone on to say “Christian joy, like hope, is founded on the faithfulness of God, in the certainty that He always keeps His promises.” Isaiah, he said, calls on those who have lost their way, who are despairing, to trust in the faithfulness of the Lord, “because His salvation will not delay in breaking into their lives.” Those who trust in God, the Pope said, “experience a peacefulness in their hearts that nothing and no one can take away.” Our joy, he said, is Christ. For this reason, a Christian who becomes sad can be said, in a certain way, to be far from Christ. But precisely for that reason, we must not leave them alone, but rather we must “pray for them, and make them feel the warmth of the community.”
The Pope is thus appealing to Christians the world over not to be judgmental, discriminatory nor indeed self centered but to appreciate our common humanity, warts and all.
That is why the Pope’s love and compassion touches hearts all over the world, even among non Christians. He represents the best in humanity and has as a result continued to attract more people to the church and indeed more pilgrims to the Vatican!
He wants Christians to embrace the new evangelization he is preaching with new ardour, with new boldness and with great love for all those who “God places in our path” thereby commanding all to be faithful missionaries to their own communities. In essence he is preaching a message of universal empathy and love by eschewing bigotry and self righteousness.
These are powerful messages for a cynical world that believes in power, force, authority and sheer brute force.
The Pope is advocating for quality relationships beyond the perfunctory service offered by institutions and faceless organizations that attempt to render service to the needy. He is calling upon each and every individual to extend love and care.
It is a calling to service and not self indulgent gloating.