April 5, 2013

Faith, Hope and Charity / David Siler

New pope reminds us we are a people of hope and joy

David SilerWhat an exciting time it is to be a Catholic!

It has been a remarkable experience to witness the humility and servant leadership by the resignation of a pope, and the very quick movement of the Holy Spirit in directing the conclave of cardinals in Rome to select an Argentinian cardinal as his successor.

Those of us involved in Catholic Charities and other ministries of service in the Church are elated with the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, and his selection of the name Pope Francis.

This native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, is well known for his compassion for all of God’s people, especially the poorest among us. Pope Francis took his name after St. Francis of Assisi, who devoted his life to service and supporting the poor and needy.

I was especially struck by a message delivered by our new spiritual leader when addressing the College of Cardinals in Clementine Hall on March 15, where he said, “never give in to the devil’s pessimism, discouragement and bitterness.” Pope Francis exhorted the cardinals to “share the Gospel message with joy and courage because it will truly answer peoples’ deepest needs.”

Later in this same speech, he added, “We never give in to pessimism, that bitterness that the devil offers us every day.”

I think his message resonated with me because I witness such deep divides further developing in our own country, and even those of us who profess to be Christians can be pulled into the pessimistic and bitter debates raging all around us. The secular media just drips with pessimism and bitterness, which can lead us down the same path.

But here the pope reminds us that we are to be a people of hope—a people of joy. In this Year of Faith, he reminds us that our own encounter with Jesus Christ leads us to this hope and joy, and that we have the privilege of leading others to this same optimistic and joyful truth that can only be found in Jesus.

And what are these “deepest needs” that Pope Francis tells us that the Gospel message answers?

My life experience tells me that these deepest needs are to love and be loved, to be respected and to have a purpose for the world.

Jesus promises us this and much more and, as his disciples, we have both the privilege and responsibility of sharing this very good news with the world. This is news that the world desperately needs, and we must bring this message by the joy and optimism with which we lead our lives.

Thank you, Pope Francis, for saying “yes” to God’s call for your vocation, and for leading the way with your own optimism and message of hope and joy!

(David Siler is the executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Charities and Family Ministries. E-mail him at dsiler@archindy.org.)

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