You didn’t have to sit glued to the television last week and absorb every word Pope Francis said
to be aware of the impact of his words on the whole world, not just Roman Catholics.
You didn’t have to understand everything said by the leaders
from the many faith traditions that gathered in worship at “ground zero”
to feel the power of the gathering on people of many faith traditions.
You didn’t have to be in a wheelchair or pushing your child in a wheelchair
to sense the blessing that both mother and son received
from the pope’s spontaneous kiss on the young boy’s head.
And you didn’t have to be Roman Catholic
to be impressed by the way the world seemed to stand still in silence and awe
in the presence of this world leader of an enormous faith community.
He wasn’t screaming his theology,
nor spewing venom,
nor trying to upstage his religious counterparts,
nor proclaiming war on those who don’t do things his way.
He was addressing the world in a gentle voice that attempted to speak truth in love…
to speak truth to power…
to speak truth about matters that concern not just Catholics, but all of us.
I will not convert to Roman Catholicism any time soon.
Nor to any of the other faith communities that stood before a world audience.
But, the Presbyterian Protestant Christian Reformed faith I was born into,
claimed at baptism and confirmation, and
have attempted to practice, preach and share with others for my whole life
was surely strengthened and confirmed
by the tremendous sense of God’s presence last week
when faith crashed into all the “breaking news” of crime and death and politics,
and reignited embers of hope and peace and reconciliation and unity
which give new spirit and life to God’s world and people.
For all the surprising ways that God regains entry
into the world of God’s creation, redemption and providence,
we are all blessed…in one another’s company and
through one another’s bold expressions of faith.
For all the ways God can bring us to unclench the fists we often shake in each others’ faces
and join hands with others of faith…
For all the opportunities God gives us to embrace each other
instead of threaten each other and embarrass ourselves…
For every chance we get to see God’s image in each other as kinfolks
rather than view each other through masks of terror and fear as enemies…
Praise and thanks be to God!