Monday, April 8, 2013

Pope Francis: He Even Signs Casts!

"'Rise from your chair and walk' -- LOL.  Get well soon, kiddo.  
Slow down on that soccer field!
BFF, P Francisco"

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pope Francis Speaks on Women

One other tasty tidbit this morning: You might have heard there was some controversy last week surrounding the Holy Thursday service. Pope Francis was at a Rome juvenile detention center; among those whose feet were to be washed were two women.  

Some had problems with that, as the act of feet washing recreates the event from Scripture in which Jesus washed the disciples's feet.  As the argument goes, since there were no female disciples, the Pope should not be washing women's feet. 

Now, we're not going to get into that debate here; suffice it to say, some people hold that point of view. 

In the last four days Francis has gone on to talk about women in three different public speeches -- on Holy Saturday; yesterday, in a homily about Mary Magdalene; and today, in a talk on Vatican radio: 
...In the professions of faith of the New Testament, only men are remembered as witnesses of the Resurrection, the Apostles, but not the women. This is because, according to the Jewish Law of the time, women and children were not considered reliable, credible witnesses. In the Gospels, however, women have a primary, fundamental role. Here we can see an argument in favor of the historicity of the Resurrection: if it were a invented, in the context of that time it would not have been linked to the testimony of women. Instead, the evangelists simply narrate what happened: the women were the first witnesses.
This tells us that God does not choose according to human criteria: the first witnesses of the birth of Jesus are the shepherds, simple and humble people, the first witnesses of the Resurrection are women. This is beautiful, and this is the mission of women, of mothers and women, to give witness to their children and grandchildren that Christ is Risen! Mothers go forward with this witness! What matters to God is our heart, if we are open to Him, if we are like trusting children. 
But this also leads us to reflect on how in the Church and in the journey of faith, women have had and still have a special role in opening doors to the Lord, in following him and communicating his face, because the eyes of faith always need the simple and profound look of love. The Apostles and disciples find it harder to believe in the Risen Christ, not the women however! Peter runs to the tomb, but stops before the empty tomb; Thomas has to touch the wounds of the body of Jesus with his hands. In our journey of faith it is important to know and feel that God loves us, do not be afraid to love: faith is professed with the mouth and heart, with the word and love.
Here's his point: in the New Testament culture, women were not considered witnesses to be trusted. And yet, in the Gospels it is women who are presented as the first witnesses to the Resurrection.  Which is to say, "God does not choose according to human criteria." 

And we need to recognize the apostolic witness of love provided by women in our world.

I wonder if some will find his words a bit too mother-centric, aka women are mothers. Compared to John Paul II and Benedict, it seems to me Francis is a bit more open and inviting, less reductive to some sort of biological or social function. 

But you tell me... 

Pope Francis' Easter Surprise

I don't know if you've read or heard about Pope Francis' Easter words, but there's some pretty great stuff in there, so I thought I might post highlights and links. 

They see the stone removed from before the tomb, they draw near and they do not find the Lord’s body. It is an event which leaves them perplexed, hesitant, full of questions: “What happened?”, “What is the meaning of all this?” (cf. Lk 24:4). Doesn’t the same thing also happen to us when something completely new occurs in our everyday life? We stop short, we don’t understand, we don’t know what to do. Newness often makes us fearful, including the newness which God brings us, the newness which God asks of us. We are like the Apostles in the Gospel: often we would prefer to hold on to our own security, to stand in front of a tomb, to think about someone who has died, someone who ultimately lives on only as a memory, like the great historical figures from the past. We are afraid of God’s surprises; we are afraid of God’s surprises! He always surprises us!
In the face of surprise we'd rather stay back with what's already known, even if it's not life giving -- like the Israelites in the desert telling Moses, 'We left Egypt for this? Let's go back and be slaves instead.'  He goes on:
Dear brothers and sisters, let us not be closed to the newness that God wants to bring into our lives! Are we often weary, disheartened and sad? Do we feel weighed down by our sins? Do we think that we won’t be able to cope? Let us not close our hearts, let us not lose confidence, let us never give up: there are no situations which God cannot change, there is no sin which he cannot forgive if only we open ourselves to him.
On Easter Sunday, I just love the way he started: 
Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, Happy Easter! Happy Easter!
 What a joy it is for me to announce this message: Christ is risen! I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons.
Most of all, I would like it to enter every heart, for it is there that God wants to sow this Good News: Jesus is risen, there is hope for you, you are no longer in the power of sin, of evil! Love has triumphed, mercy has been victorious! The mercy of God always triumphs! 
He ended yet another (blissfully short) homily by praying that the risen Christ's peace might be present throughout the world; and he went from region to region, talking about their struggles and need.   
...We ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace. Yes, Christ is our peace, and through him we implore peace for all the world.
Then finally, in an Argentinian tradition, the Pope donned the Bunny suit and greeted children.

Alright, that last bit comes from rather sketchy sources. It may not in fact be true.