Besides doing yoga and watching high school football drama on Netflix, I’ve been going to mass every week with Cate’s class at school. At first she pretended she didn’t notice me there, but today she actually sat with me and shared the songbook. As if I needed it. pshh. After 12 years of belting out “Gather us In” and “The Prayer of Saint Francis,” I have all those school mass songs down by heart.
Speaking of Francis. I wasn’t surprised when his trip to the United States was among the Prayers of the Faithful today. But I was surprised when I hesitated to join in being thankful. Even if it was only for a second.
I adore Pope Francis, and I’ve been overjoyed to witness his messages of inclusiveness and service; of taking care of our one earth; of eliminating judgement on others and instead focusing our hearts on helping those in need. But I have to admit, I felt hurt and disappointed yesterday when I saw on Twitter that Francis had met with Kim Davis, the county clerk who refuses to do her job in the name of discrimination and despite the law. (side note: my blog is not a forum for political or religious debate. It is simply my opinion. I won’t argue with you.)
Anyway, I was really struggling. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, or you know me well, then you know I already struggle with some of the other teachings of the Catholic church. But as Angie and I have discussed: we can’t just throw up our arms and walk away. We have to be the change we want to see. We have to be the channel of peace. And I want to see a Catholic church that embraces all people equally, and is driven by love and service to those in need. That’s what I’ve been seeing and hearing from Francis; and that’s why I’ve been so encouraged lately by the direction of our church.
And that’s why I was so disappointed to see the news about the meeting.
But then, during that split second I hesitated to join in the prayer during mass, I remembered the Facebook post I saw from a favorite priest this morning. He said that Pope Francis met with many sinners during his visit to the United States. For example, he met with prisoners who have comitted terrible crimes. And he offered them all words of encouragment and peace. That’s what Jesus would have done; that’s what we are taught to do. (Even if you don’t believe in Jesus–which is not a requirement in my book–if you are a decent person then you can get behind the idea of lifting others up, no matter what.)
I can’t sit here and judge Francis for meeting with anyone. After all, I have no idea what is in his heart. Meeting with someone is not condoning their actions. We are all called to offer love and understanding, even when we don’t understand.
I’m not going to let this diminish my excitement about the possibilities I see under the leadership of Pope Francis. I’m not going to let injury and doubt and sadness take even one moment of the peace I felt this morning standing next to my daughter, listening to her sing about hope and joy and love.
We have to be the change we want to see. Even when we can’t always understand the world around us.