September 23, 2016


Like Pope Francis, nurture the light of faith in your lives

Most of us are familiar with the adage, “Actions speak louder than words.”

In the case of Pope Francis, we believe both his words and ministry share heartfelt life lessons that people of faith would do well to emulate.

Whether it’s during his weekly general audience, visiting a babies’ ward in a hospital or delivering a homily during an early morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae at his residence, our universal shepherd’s words and actions always come from the heart.

The words of wisdom shared and the insights offered are evidence, we believe, that the Holy Spirit is very much a part of his pontificate. And his actions demonstrate it, too.

Mercy, of course, has been at the forefront of his prayers and actions during this Holy Year of Mercy.

Just last week, according to Catholic News Service (CNS), Pope Francis donned a green hospital gown over his white cassock and entered the neonatal unit of a Rome hospital, peering in the incubators, blessing its young patients with the sign of the cross and encouraging worried parents.

The trip to the babies’ ward of Rome’s San Giovanni Hospital and then to a hospice on Sept. 16, CNS noted, were part of a series of Mercy Friday activities Pope Francis has been doing once a month during the Holy Year of Mercy.

By visiting the ailing newborns and the dying on the same day, the Vatican said, Pope Francis “wanted to give a strong sign of the importance of life from its first moment to its natural end.”

“Welcoming life and guaranteeing its dignity at every moment of its development is a teaching Pope Francis has underlined many times,” the statement said. With the September visits, he wanted to put “a concrete and tangible seal” on his teaching that living a life of mercy means giving special attention to those in the most precarious situations.

During the Mercy Friday visits, the Holy Father has also spent time with migrants, the aged, at a recovery community for former drug addicts, and

at a shelter for women rescued from human trafficking and prostitution.

Other life lessons are consistently discussed that people of faith can learn from as well.

In his homily during daily Mass on Sept. 19 in his chapel, Pope Francis reminded Massgoers they should not envy the rich and powerful and conspire against their neighbor. He instead encouraged them to nurture the light of faith in their lives.

Reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading from Luke in which Jesus says no one lights a lamp and then covers it (Lk 8:16-18), the Holy Father shared some ways in which we hide the light of faith—through jealousy and arguments, plotting evil against our neighbors or simply putting off until tomorrow the good that we should do today.

Good works “do not keep well in the [refrigerator],” Pope Francis said. They need to be shared the minute there is a need.

Reacting to someone in need by thinking, “I’ll take care of it tomorrow” is a classic, recurring form of hiding the light of faith given to each Christian at baptism, he added.

Pope Francis also used strong language to warn about those who plot evil against their neighbors instead of responding to the trust placed in them.

Using someone’s trust to trick them or to fool them into doing something they shouldn’t is the “little piece of mafia that we all have in reach,” the pope said. “Profiting from another’s trust in order to do evil is mafioso!”

We should not be envious or jealous of the rich and powerful, the Holy Father said, because it also hides the light of faith. Instead, he urges us to be “children of the light.”

The light of faith given to each of us at baptism is a gift we cannot let sit dormant.

May we follow the pope’s advice and example, and nurture the light of friendship and humility, the light of faith and hope, and the light of patience and goodness in our lives.

—Mike Krokos

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