Brighter Light, cameras and action! "Jesus, Mary and Joseph" are on the altar of sacrifice and the world stage with Pope Francis. At the Vatican, the new pope will walk fervently in his simple shoes and enter humbly into the most mystical drama on earth, The Holy Mass. The Entrance Antiphon announces the providential tone of his papacy, "Behold, a faithful and prudent steward, whom the Lord set over his household (Luke 12:42)."
Significant opening ceremony in Rome, fathers of all types and all of God's children: pay attention. Pope Francis is installed as the Holy Father of the Catholic Church for all nations on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, leader of "The Holy Family." Jesus, Mary and Joseph are "The Holy Family" and I submit they are Pope Francis' inspiration for humanity and for his papacy. St. Joseph is the beloved Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and honoured Foster Father of Jesus. Mary is the Blessed Mother who devotees believe will unite all of God's children. Catholics, believing in one God, hold that Jesus is the Second Person in The Holy Trinity. These Holy Family members exemplify humility, love and obedience to God the Father's Will. Pope Francis will be an advocate for the sanctification of families with their help.
St. Joseph is the exemplar and patron for fathers, workers and the Universal Church. He is the holy man known for helping people in their quest for a rewarding "interior life." Ironic, since he is also the man to go to when you want to sell your home. One could say he is the intercessor of houses, materially and spiritually, the "man of the house." For those who share affection for St. Joseph, it is held that he receives little credit for the enormous role he plays. This statement could be made for many good fathers. When discussing obedience to God, Joseph is in stark contrast to Adam as described in biblical accounts from Genesis to The Gospels. Adam disobeyed God and blamed his actions on his wife Eve. On the other hand, Joseph finding that his betrothed Mary was pregnant but not by him, chose to protect her even before being told by an angel of God that she was faithful. Interestingly, this story of St. Joseph is the regular scheduled Gospel for the date of Pope Francis' installation, March 19. Joseph's simple "yes" response to God, uniquely read in Greek at the ecumenical Roman Catholic Liturgy and Papal Installation, will be the forum for Francis to also humbly say "yes" to God. He answers his Divine Call to serve as Holy Father, Bishop of Rome and Pope of All Nations.
Pope Francis has a special devotion to "The Holy Family." To know more about the new pontiff, it is helpful to explore his deep and true devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Helpful Hands of Joseph. This advisable effort will shed light on what drives him. Maybe his interior life will help others searching for inner peace and outer joy which he exudes so naturally.
St. Joseph and St. Francis of Assisi are influencing the new pope's style. Like both of these humble saints, it appears that Pope Francis hopes to advance God's Divine plan and promise for creation where peace and joy abound. His papacy will work ecumenically to guide the world to the most critical task at hand of strengthening families as the foundation of society. He will also confront poverty, both temporal and of the spirit. Pope Francis will guide people who have an open heart and desire for acts of "Purification", "Transformation" and "Humility", allowing them to experience brighter light and less darkness in their daily endeavors. Worker of all varieties will be inspired by his personal example of humility and will help others to see the Light.
The Mass readings on this auspicious day are re-assuring offering hope, peace and joy through humility and service to God, Heavenly Father. The first reading is from Chapter Seven in the Second Book of Samuel setting the scene early in history, 587 BC. It prophesizes to watch the House of David, "I will raise up your heir...I will make his kingdom firm. It is he who shall build a house for my name. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me." Joseph was a descendant of David. Both he and his adopted son Jesus were carpenters by trade, building structures to last, humbly obedient to the will of the Heavenly Father from start to finish.
The second reading for Pope Francis' installation is from fourth chapter of the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans and also apropos to the meaning of the day. It is written, "Brothers and sisters...the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants that he would inherit the world, but through the righteousness that comes from faith. He is our father in the sight of God." Abraham believed, hoping against hope, he too was humble and obedient to God's Will. This is one teaching that Jews, Christians and Muslims agree upon. The gentle and deliberate Gospel approach taken by Pope Francis in reaching out to all children of God is notable. Like St. Francis of Assisi, his papal patron, this Francis is inspired to focus his papacy on the teachings of the Gospel. Imitating Jesus Christ by living the Gospels appears his way. The Bible is his road-map for finding the safest path to guide his flock, avoiding harm's way. His mission is to save souls by guiding them gently, according to his own words to "truth, goodness and beauty."
Finally, the Gospel Reading as Pope Francis is installed proclaims the outcome of Samuel's prophecy, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:18-21)." We are reminded that Joseph chose of his own free will to humbly be obedient to God's Will, to become the loyal husband of a pregnant unwed mother, to be the foster father of a newborn baby, a hard worker and provider for his family and ultimately a true model man for humanity.
One may simply read the Holy Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to glean Pope Francis' architectural plans for re-building the Church. He will guide souls through the salient acts of "Purification, Transformation and Humility" humming the spiritual hymn, "Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!"
Or, contrarily, one can subscribe to the 1980 lyrical sentiments of country western performer Mac Davis, "Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble, when you're perfect in every way! I can't wait to look in the mirror 'cos I get better looking each day."
Stay tuned in The Light for the next act! And let's try to be humble, it's wholly worth it!