When i wrote the other day that Papa George Washington and Papa Jorge/alias Pope Francis colliding in Spirit would mean Fireworks, i didn’t mean Fourth of July type. Although this Pope is absolutely EXPLOSIVE with
Joy at times, the “Fireworks of Faith” are in general more subdued – but at the same time more intense. i am about to hop on the Metro North Hudson Valley Line on my way to Central Park, NYC, to encounter the “Ball of Wonder” himself, who has taken America by storm. i hope to get a firsthand glance of those fireworks in his eyes. …Wish me luck….
i first encountered such “fireworks of faith” in a teeny tiny lady named Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The twinkle in her eye was actually so bright that i had to look away (she also made me feel worm-like in my own practice of our faith). Later, in 1985, a true man of God named Pope John Paul II had just recently been “assassinated,” or at least that’s how some doctors put it. His bullet wounds were such that he should not have been up and still walking – let alone pressing the flesh again through massive crowds. Oh, how he was frustrating the doctors and the Roman Curia and the Swiss Guards in his holy disobedience!!! When they asked, “Do you want to get killed?”, he just laughed. It wasn’t even a valid question. He just had to be with his people, and his Faith, his Trust in God, made him fearless. No one could hurt him, REALLY, as no one could harm his soul. More than once, i had the awesome experience of looking directly into his eyes and seeing those fireworks.
Pope Francis is exactly the same way. There could very well be someone out there any minute of any day, out to get him. How many threats there have been!!! And he just laughs or goes through the mobs with that twinkle in his eye, fearless in Faith. George Washington was the same, totally trusting in God.
But i saw those fireworks before! Before Mother, before any Pope, i had encountered a massive display in a place i never thought of finding them. i was sent to West Texas to offer my knowledge about St. Francis to a new group of friars, who had taken up residence within a Mexican migrant camp. It turned out to be the most influential school of my own life. How many times i would stop in the middle of a lesson – to listen — and then to tell the brothers not to listen to me. If they wanted to learn about St. Francis, if they wanted to MEET St. Francis, if they wanted to KNOW St. Francis, they simply should go out and hang out with the Mexicans. The famous Hereford cows right across the highway were probably eating better, and better cared for. There were whole families of these faithful people of God living in shacks the size of my present backyard shed. But there was a little church in the center of the camp, and i would often wonder how it remained in tact, as they would “rock” it with joyful song and dance with a Faith and a Gratitude so great that even now it leaves me in tears and in chills. In a way their faith could actually TRUMP the faith of these famous SAINTS i mentioned. i know that Pope Francis would agree with me. i can just see him bowing to the “transcendent dignity” of my Mexican Family of Faith, Hope and Love.
Hey! Speaking of TRUMP, none of these hundreds of Mexicans was a rapist or a drug-dealer. Only a few hundred saints! Penniless Saints, whose parents had had no fortune to leave them, except the ONLY REAL FORTUNE, FAITH. They often told me that what brought them to Texas was the Motto of our Fair Country, IN GOD WE TRUST. Truly all that they owned was a pure and perfect trust that the All-Loving Father would get them food for each day. The mighty twinkles in their eyes often made me ask, “Who ARE the true poor of the earth, and who ARE the truly rich?!” When i reflected the other day on what the Father of our Nation wrote in Newburgh, N.Y., to his People-not-yet-born, about how they would never become a great or happy nation unless they were committed from the start to be humble and thankful, compassionate and caring for anyone in need, and that they must beware of “the arrogance which is so very possible with prosperity,” – when i posted George’s Plea, i must admit that “the Donald” did cross my mind. As a kid he was always in a brawl, so his parents decided to send him upstate to military school. His formative years were spent JUST DOWN THE ROAD from George Washington’s House. The General’s Spirit was, or should have been, the Spirit of that school. Did little Donnie miss a lesson or two? i wonder. His opinion of Mexicans alone brings up the question. Maybe Fred and Mary would have done better to send the boy to the school of a migrant camp?
How interesting that perhaps the strongest responses to Pope Francis’ historic speech to Congress came when he said, with brilliant smile, “I am happy that America remains a land of dreams…” and “Never be afraid of foreigners, for most of us were once foreigners.” In God We Trust.