Fr. Raymond Gramata, Pastor
|October 4, 2015
From Your Pastor
The Pope is back at the Vatican now and is preparing to host the Synod on the Family. Do we still hear his words sounding in our ears? I hope so. While he was here in the United States, we were flooded with TV coverage, print coverage, etc., but do we still remember what Pope Francis spoke about?
It was funny at times to see how people and the press tried to pigeon hole Pope Francis into becoming a political figure with a political message. Pope Francis came not as a political figure, but as a spiritual father. In his speech at the White House and his speech to Congress, the Pope reminded us that we are a nation formed by immigrants. Also, his speech to Congress reminded us, through examples such as Abraham Lincoln, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Dorethea Day, and Fr. Thomas Merton, how we should live out our lives. Pope Francis reminded us of the importance of and the sacredness of life from conception to natural death and he shared with us his opinion on the death penalty – no more.
He talked about the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the dreams that we are called to have. He reminded Congress, the nation, and the people of the obligations that we should have to one another and to the world. He prompted us to take care of the earth; since we live on it and are its custodians. Some people thought that Pope Francis would come lambasting our country. He came to be a reconciler, a healer, and get us to look at the larger picture.
Pope Francis reminded bishops, priests, and permanent deacons to be welcoming. As always, the Pope used the example of the church as a field hospital. Jesus, in His own words, reminds us: “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12 -13)
All of us are called to make the church a welcoming place. As one of the newer hymns reminds us: “Go make a difference…” Pope Francis is making a difference by his words and examples. Following his speech to Congress, he went out to eat lunch with the poor in D.C. He also made an impromptu visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor, who are battling Obamacare over some of its elements that go against Catholic teaching. He even allowed a young girl in D.C., who slipped through the security, to deliver a letter to him to help her illegal immigrant father. The stories go on.
The Pope having proclaimed 2016 the “Year of Mercy” - which actually begins on December 8, 2015 - has already started the process by reforming the annulment process. Some wonder if Pope Francis is changing what the Catholic Church believes (doctrine), a resounding NO. What Jesus has taught and gave to us cannot change, but how we look at it and how we look at Jesus and His actions in the gospels reminds us how we are to act.
Remember the story of the Samaritan woman at the well: “Jesus said to her, ‘Go call your husband and come back.’ The woman answered and said to him, ‘I do not have a husband.’ Jesus answered her, ‘You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you are living with now is not your husband,” The woman replied, “What you have said is true. Sir I see that you are a prophet.” (John 4:16-20) At that moment, the woman became a disciple and went back to the townspeople to share with them all that Jesus had done for her. Jesus brought her back home. You may know many people who have left the church for various reasons or that have become lukewarm. Jesus reminds us that our task is to bring them home and Pope Francis is showing us the way.