STRAIGHT TALK: Small car, big message
Like many Americans, Marco Islanders sat transfixed, watching their televisions last week as Pope Francis swooped into Washington after visiting the small island nation of Cuba for three days before arriving in in the nation’s capital last Tuesday.
In a world which has so many focused on formality and ego driven positioning for power, Pope Francis demonstrated to us all that humility, respect and love for one another should stand above the desires for power and fame.
The man with the smallest car in the motorcade had the biggest heart, and quickly won over the crowds based upon his humility, tenderness and enthusiasm. His genuine love for his fellow man came across in almost every moment of his short stay with us.
The trappings of power or political protocol meant little to this man of faith as he kept the President of the United States waiting so he could visit with some children at the side of the road and blessed them and those with them on the way to the White House.
He had a special interest in children afflicted with terrible maladies and would make a special effort to stop the motorcade and hop out of his vehicle to walk over and spend a moment with the afflicted ones and their families, as he blessed those in need of a special word from the head of the Catholic Church.
Unlike other dignitaries who are honored to address a Joint Session of Congress, he dismissed the trapping of a “power lunch” with the elite. Instead he went to a soup kitchen and fed the hungry and homeless, once again reinforcing his call for a recommitment by his church to be more involved in missionary work.
While in New York he would address a gathering of world leaders at the United Nations and once again would divert from the norm of a “power lunch” before the elite gathering of dignitaries. He instead would attend a multi-religious service at the site of the 9-11 Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero.
Here he paid tribute to the victims of this horrific tragedy and to the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives to help save so many others. Pope Francis would also say he came to “better understand the mysteries of evil.”
For myself I took special pride in watching him enter Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, knowing I too had stood in that magnificent structure at one time, and felt somewhat of a connection at that moment with him almost 1300 miles away.
As I reflect on his visit to our nation I would like to think Pope Francis would be proud of us on this tiny island for the way we as citizens have also responded to those in need. Case in point is the challenges that have befallen several of our residents and neighbors over the last 3-4 moths.
Fundraisers have been held for a number of our residents to help them defray staggering medical expenses, as they battle those personal challenges. Friends and neighbors have also come forward in a number of other ways to help in their struggles showing great concern for those in need.
Last Saturday I attended a funeral mass for a young man who left us all too soon. It was a tragic loss and the grief was deep within his family and those friends in attendance. However, the love for him and the support being shown his family was so overpowering at the San Marco Church you could feel the energy all around those that attended.
I guess the point I’m making is that people cared, and cared enough to take the time to come and support the family and show their love for the loss of another. Hopefully lessons will be learned from that unfortunate passing and that his loss will not be in vain.
Pope Francis spoke of America as a “land blessed with tremendous gifts and opportunities.” He was so correct when he made that statement, and it’s now up to us to learn from this great example in humility and tenderness he demonstrated. It is our responsibility as individuals to enthusiastically move forward as a nation and within our communities to not lose focus on the good that can be done, and put aside some of our petty differences for the good of all.