Pope Francis Always “Sees People First!”
|Soon after becoming Pope, Francis left his room at the Domus Marta and met a Swiss Guard standing at attention outside his door. He asked him, “And what are you doing here? Were you awake all night?" “Yes,” the guard answered respectfully. “Standing? Remarked Pope Francis. The Swiss Guard replied: “One of my colleagues gave me a break." The Pope quickly added, “And you’re not tired?" The young Papal guard added, “It’s my duty Your Holiness, for Your safety.” The Pope looked at him with kindness.
Pope Francis went back into his apartment and quickly returned with a chair in his hand saying: “At least sit down and rest." Shocked, the Swiss Guard replied, “Forgive me, but I can’t! The rules don’t allow it.” He continued, “The rules? My captain, Your Holiness." “Oh, is that so," said Pope Francis. "Well, I’m the Pope and I am asking you to sit down.” So, between the rules and the Pope, the Swiss Guard, chose to sit down. After which the Pope brought him bread and jam for a snack, saying, “Buon appetito, brother!”
The Lesson of this little vignette is simple, and one we can easily learn ourselves. When Pope Francis sees another person, he genuinely sees an individual--unique and one of a kind. Pope Francis always sees people first. He never lumps people together in clumps, categories or stereotypes. He sees each person as distinctly chosen and beloved by God. Pope Francis always tries to see what God sees when He gazes on us.
God only sees a person so dear to Him that Jesus, His son, had to die to save him. Every person is that exquisite in God’s eyes. Pope Francis too sees this potential which GK Chesterton describes as: The innate ability to become “a beautiful, exquisite royal palace.”
It takes effort and a strong belief to see what Pope Francis saw outside his room early that morning. He didn’t see only a Swiss guard or a brightly, colored uniform, a sword, rules or even procedure. Pope Francis saw a hungry, tired young man. And Pope Francis found a chair, a breakfast snack and a cup of coffee to alleviate his fatigue. Everything else for Pope Francis was secondary.
It’s the same with God. We are God’s children first and foremost, and this is what God sees every time-He looks at us. Everything else is secondary- our faults, mistakes, everything. God never judges us simply based on our last mistake.
Now, if this is how God sees us, why can’t we do the same instead of separating others into a vast ocean of differences? We need to “See People First.” After that everything else is secondary. This sounds like the perfect rule to live by. It works for God and Francis, and it can easily work for us.