Our city is filled with a sense of expectation and excitement that I have not experienced in a long time. Some of us are glued to our televisions, and others have been standing outside since 4:00am, eager to get a glimpse of the Pope. Many of us have adapted our work schedules, heeding the advice of television newscasters offering insights on proposed traffic nightmares. And while I'm sure people are complaining at the disruptions, I've not heard the grumbling. Rather, I've heard an extraordinary sense of gratitude.
And I cannot help but to wonder how long we've been waiting for a Pope like Francis.
Gone are the Prada shoes and the palatial palace. But that was just the beginning. We have since watched the Pope cross one barrier after another. We have seen him prefer to touch the common person over spending time with the powerful. We have observed him being like Jesus. He's regularly stopped to notice those whom others cannot see. He has touched those once deemed untouchable. He's brought healing to his church - and to my church.
He's said things we need to hear about mercy, justice, humility, compassion and equality.
But he's not simply preached. He's done what St. Francis of Assisi said, "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words."
And while we have learned much from Pope Francis, we've also learned that our world is desperate for the people who say they follow Jesus to act like Jesus. People want to see others befriending the poor, touching the untouchable, healing the brokenness, and making the world one.
My prayers are with Pope Francis as he prepares to offer his first words to our nation this morning. May this prophet speak prophetically, and may the eyes and ears of all who see him be opened in such a way that we long to follow Jesus with what we do and how we spend the enormous resources God has given us. We are a nation in great need of healing.
Speak Francis. Speak loudly. Speak clearly. And then please keep loving extravagantly in such a way that the church and our nation cannot help but do the same.