When Pope Francis was in the United States people were inthralled with the words he spoke. Many of us were glued to the TV sets as we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to hear him speak almost directly to us. We were like the man who ran up to Jesus and asked him what he had to do to inherit eternal life. The young man was not satisfied with the answer Jesus gave him. He wanted more. And when Jesus gave him more he went away because he felt Jesus was asking too much.
Did Pope Francis ask more of us then what Jesus has been asking of us for a lifetime? Ponder the question with me. Jesus asks that we keep the commandments and give of ourselves and our material goods to care for the poor. What does this mean exactly? Most of us do well in keeping the commandments. But what does it mean to give all we have and all we are to care for the poor? Do we even know who the poor are? Do we know a poor person when we meet one?
Last week, I received a call from a young woman who needed to talk to someone. She chose me. I had a full schedule, but found some time and asked her to come by- I was prepared to spend an hour with her, but she came in tears and as broken down as I have ever seen anyone. I spent the day with her, mostly listening to her broken heart and attempting to restore her confidence in herself. It was not easy, but I tried and at the end of the day, I believe together we made some progress.
I believe this is what Pope Francis’s message was to the American people and it is the message of Sunday’s Gospel. Jesus asks us to give what we have of material and spiritual goods to the poor- to those in need and to those who come to us. And we may say with the young man who turned away sad, “Oh, but it’s hard.” And it is hard. But we do it because it is what Jesus asks of us.
Evangeline Salazar, OSB