In the Gospel when the disciples of Jesus tried to keep outsiders from doing good in his name, Jesus said, “Do not prevent them. Anyone who is not against us is for us.”
We saw an example of that Friday at the Nine-Eleven Memorial. Pope Francis stood with a representative Buddhist, Muslim, Sikh, Orthodox Christian, Rabbi, Hindu. Each of them was in his or her distinctive color, and Francis was in white as they joined the New York’s Youth Chorus singing, “”Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
For five or six days in a row, Francis attended five of six events a day. I got tired of following it on television, but Francis, with his sciatic legs kept plodding along, and looking lovingly into people’s eyes
Francis had a formal meeting with the United Nations Assembly, with the U.S. Congress, with the families of the nine-eleven victims, with America’s bishops and religious; and with group after group after group.
But for us who were able to follow his talks on television, Francis wasn’t talking with groups. No, he was locking his tired eyes with you and me.
What I found most endearing was the scene Thursday morning. In the street outside Catholic Charities, volunteers were setting up round tables with fresh white and blue cloths and with flower vases. From three in the morning an assortment of addicts, felons, over-aged prostitutes, and homeless were taking turns with the showers, and looking for something to wear. They were all saying, “We are going to have lunch with the pope.”
Let me tell you about my reaction to the Holy Father’s visit. As a young person I was surrounded by wise and holy men and women who made me feel at home in my world. I hadn’t realized it, but over the years that feeling of security had slipped away a bit. So, my great surprise this week was that in locking eyes with Francis, I felt my childhood’s complete security taking hold of me again.