Pope Francis is in the US, and the media notes that it’s not only we Catholics but many different faiths who find him attractive and inspiring. To me, his compassion is matched only by his joy, a joy that comes from God and that extends back into his relationships with each of the people whom we meets. But the Pope is not exactly a superstar, even if he is sometimes treated like one. He represents the unity of the church, first and foremost, as the celebrant at the Mass I attended yesterday noted in his homily. To that I would add, in his joy and compassion, he models for us how we can be with others and is attractive because we see in him a human being “fully alive”. A recent NY Times article featured a woman wondering aloud, where does he get that joy? What is its source? Pope Francis is always clear about the answer to that question: it comes from a deep, personal relationship with the Lord, a life of contemplation that opens up a life of love with others. Francis is less interested in attention on himself than on turning that attention to God, which also means turning our attention towards loving relationship in community with others.
We are all invited to that same joy. Jesus’s words, “Come and follow me” are not only a call to discipleship but even more deeply, a call to joy, the fruit of friendship with the Lord and also friendship in the Lord with one another.
“Come let us sing to the Lord, let us shout with joy to the rock who saves us. Let us approach him with praise and thanksgiving. Let us sing joyful songs to the Lord.” (Psalm 95: 1-2)