This is my third article for the American Catholic Council’s newsletter under the heading of Eye on Francis, a monthly reflection on something Francis has said and how we can make it an actionable statement in our lives. This month they asked me to reflect on a recent statement that I felt spoke to the upcoming Synod of Bishops. I found this reflection revealed to me the very human side of Francis, reminding all of us that he comes from family and that it revealed a glimpse of how important his family life was to him. Knowing this about him, that he himself is a “family man”, I think gives great hope for the upcoming Synod of Bishops ….Reyanna
By Reyanna Rice, September 19,2014
“He cannot understand the simple gesture, the simple gestures of the people. Perhaps this man had forgotten how to caress a baby, how to console a grandmother. In his theories, his life of government—because perhaps he was a councilor of the Pharisees—he had forgotten the simple gestures of life, the very first things that we all, as newborns, received from our parents.”
Pope Francis, Homily at Domus Santa Marta morning Mass, September 18, 2014
Francis was reflecting on the gospel passage for the day where the so-called “sinful woman” washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, anoints them with perfume and then dries them with her hair. This scene takes place inside the house of a Pharisee. The Pharisee judges both Jesus and the woman and Jesus calls him up short on it. Francis says the Pharisee “is not a bad man” he “simply cannot understand the woman’s actions.” In this statement, I see that Frances does understand, and understand well, the normal daily human love that it takes to make life worth living. He understands Us!! He is one of Us!! He is also showing, in my opinion, that he himself has caressed a baby. He has 15 nieces and nephews and probably numerous great nieces and nephews. I would guess he has changed a baby’s diaper. And I suspect he has consoled a grandmother, probably his Grandma Rosa when he was a young man at the time of his grandfather’s death. These are the things that go on in a family. He probably grew in his understanding of family from what he lived and experienced in his own family. He shows very definitely that he is a “family man”. Because he shows this understanding of the deeply important role family plays in the development of the human person, it gives me great hope, despite all the negative things we are hearing, that the Synod just may well be the beginning of a more merciful church, a church where families of all kinds are truly loved, listened to and respected. Keep your hope alive and caress a baby and console a grandmother. That’s how we learn to love.