Friday, March 29, 2013

In spite of that, we call this Friday good

"The dripping blood our only drink, / The bloody flesh our only food: / In spite of which we like to think / That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood— / Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good." — T.S. Eliot

Last night before I left work in the evening, I signed in to check Facebook, and I saw that someone had posted a link to this article about the Holy Father's visit to a juvenile detention center for Holy Thursday Mass.

I read that one of the inmates, an orphan, said on hearing the news, "At last I shall get to meet someone who says he is my father!"

I read that yesterday, the Holy Father washed the feet of twelve inmates and kissed their feet when he finished.

Can you imagine the backgrounds some of these kids have—to be in prison as a minor? I can't imagine what they've gone through and how much they've suffered.

And as I read about the Holy Father's act of love, sitting there at my desk, I started to cry.

I mean, he's the pope, the head of the world's largest church. And there he is, bowing down in all gentleness and humility, to give love to people in the lowest rung of society.

I thought about Our Lord sitting down for dinner with publicans and prostitutes, and I thought, That's what love looks like. That's what Christ looks like.

For the first time in a while, I really stopped and thought about what that meant. Christ loves us. He loves us so much he died for us—I can hardly wrap my mind around what that means.

I thought of that line from one of my favorite hymns: "I will break their hearts of stone—give them hearts for love alone."

I thought about the complete and total, utterly unselfish love Pope Francis showed, in imitation of Christ.

I wondered if I could ever love like that. Give like that. Judge no one and instead make myself the first to give compassion, and the last to ask anything for myself. I know I'm so far from that, but my love for the Holy Father and admiration for his Christlike charity inspired me. I mean, before Pope Francis, I didn't even know it was possible to love a person you've never met so much.

As I thought about all these things, I could feel my heart shattering—the rules and judgments and little acts of pride I had built up over months and years, cracking like ice. My heart broke with love for our Holy Father, and through him for Christ.

How blessed we are in our Holy Father. He is criticized by both the right and the left. He is a sign of contradiction. Nobody knows quite what to do with him. Yet shining through him, from a pure and holy soul, is the utter love of a Father for his children and of Christ for his Church.

His goodness breaks our hearts so they can be remade in Christ—the greatest gift we could receive this Good Friday.

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