A Welcoming Pope

Pope Francis never seems to stop finding ways to be welcoming.  He chooses to see the beauty in individuals rather than their stains and blemishes.  He understands that human needs may sometimes be more important than perceptions of what is proper.  Recently Pope Francis gently spoke these words “Let them eat: no worries.”   He was speaking to Mothers who had presented their children for Baptism in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel.  The Pope was referring to the hunger the children may feel during the long ceremony.  He wanted the mothers to feel free to breastfeed rather than be embarrassed or squeamish. It is these small human tones that give Pope Francis so much appeal.  He spots the human dimension in the midst of the sacred.  With his keen insights, he shows us how our acknowledging a necessary fact of human everyday life is just that-acknowledging it.  In this situation "babies get hungry" even when being baptized. Pope Francis simply wanted the mothers not to hold back and to go ahead and breastfeed them.  It’s just a beautiful reality in a modern world.

Pope Francis has the keen insight to see a human moment, make a pastoral decision and win hearts.  The result is that those involved may love Jesus more deeply, because they love the Jesus they see in Pope Francis.  This same experience happened to Jesus in the Scriptures and it continues to happen still today.

Many people liked Jesus before they decided to be like Christ.   The Samaritan woman sitting at the well liked Jesus first, and then became his disciple telling everyone she met about him.   Probably Mary Magdalene did the same.

Pope Francis understands this, and makes welcoming and comforting primary qualities of his ministry.  The Pope does it because Christ did it.  This sterling behavior is worthwhile learning from Pope Francis.

First be welcoming and inviting.  Then give everyone respect no matter who they are.  Finally show honor and dignity before and instead of pointing out differences.  Who Knows?  We may even discover we like them, and before long they may like the Christ they see in our actions.

It’s a novel approach, but Christ founded a church on this crazy idea.  Today we have many opportunities to fill our churches by being welcoming and friendly before anything else.  It worked for Jesus, it works for Pope Francis, and it can work for us too.   So be like Pope Francis “let them eat; no worries.”



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