With the release of his third Encyclical, Pope Francis is making some big waves around the world and in our land. Titled Fratelli Tutti (“All Brothers”), he signed the teaching in Assisi on the feast of Assisi’s most beloved saint.
As a social encyclical, Pope Francis strives to prick the conscience of everybody who hears his words, and I will admit, it happened to me. I felt, at times, that our country, our American way of life, was under attack. Reading the Holy Father’s grim description of our current, divided state of affairs (locally, nationally, and internationally) hurt. But, it was supposed to.
Because our world is not as it should be! No honest person could look around and say that everything is a-ok. I am sure that, in the coming days, many critics will say that the Pope’s practical suggestions are “idealistic” at best and “New-World-Orderish” at worst. It would be tempting to pick snippets from today’s readings to refute Pope Francis’ exhortations:
—“The mountain about which Isaiah wrote was not a vision of an earthly paradise, but the heavenly one!”
—“Sure, the father of the groom in the Gospel invited everybody in, but he still kicked out the non-conformist: we have to be allowed to define who’s in and who’s out!”
—“For all Pope Francis’ insistence on economic justice, how about we (read: “he, especially”) pay attention to St. Paul’s contentedness with being poor?!”
We could do this, and I’m sure many will in the coming days. But, over and above all the follow-up discussions and rebuttals, I invite you to go and have a discussion with Charity Himself in our Adoration Chapel. Go to the place where God empties himself, and ask him if you are doing likewise. The truth is, we all need to grow in charity, in the free choice to make of ourselves a gift. Bring with you the encyclical (until it’s printed in the States you can read it or print it at http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20201003_enciclica-fratelli-tutti.html), and let the Holy Father’s words and the outpouring of Divine Grace in the Eucharist melt any hard spots on your hearts. After wrestling with the challenges to our way of thinking and acting, take to heart the prayer that concludes this encyclical:
O God, Trinity of Love, from the profound communion of your divine life, pour out upon us a torrent of fraternal love. Grant us the love reflected in the actions of Jesus, in his family of Nazareth, and in the early Christian community.
Grant that we Christians may live the Gospel, discovering Christ in each human being, recognizing him crucified in the sufferings of the abandoned and forgotten of our world, and risen in each brother or sister who makes a new start.
Come, Holy Spirit, show us your beauty, reflected in all the peoples of the earth, so that we may discover anew that all are important and all are necessary, different faces of the one humanity that God so loves. Amen.
Let us love one another well.
Note: This article by Father Matt Byrne is from the October 12, 2020, St. John Bosco Parish Bulletin