Fridays with Francis: March 27, 2015

150 Homeless persons got a rare opportunity to see more than the outside entrance to the Vatican museum this week. They were invited to take a guided tour of the Vatican museum and gardens, followed by a free meal in the cafeteria. They were also given the opportunity to pray in the Sistine Chapel, where the Holy Father surprised them with a visit of his own. He made sure to speak with each of the guests.

Pope Francis supposedly told his guests, “This is everyone’s house: it’s your house. The door is always open for all.” While this is a common Christian principle, the novelty of this visit for the homeless reminds us that we may say that our doors are open, but we do precious little to actually help people enter into Christ’s presence.

This reminds me a bit of the parable of the Great Banquet (Luke 14:15-24). The master not only opened his doors for the unsavory people of society to join him at the banquet, but he sent his servants out to gather them. He didn’t wait to see if anyone would walk through the door first, or in what state of dishabille they were in before coming to him. Kudos for the Holy Father for his constancy in practicing what Christ preaches.

While I’m on the topic of the marginalized, it breaks my heart that Pope Francis visiting  gay and transgender prison inmates is shocking enough to warrant a story. I can’t stress enough that the Church does not hate LGBTQ persons. I really can’t.

Then again, in a statement that surely confused and angered many, Pope Francis came out strongly against compromising on matters of faith.

“Whoever is not with me is against me: there is no third choice to be made. Either you are a saint or you take the other route,” the Pope reiterated, saying that the person who chooses his own will not only “loses out,” but, does something worse: “he wastes and wrecks. He is corrupt and he corrupts.”

I think rigid statements like these throw many people because it appears to contradict the merciful and accepting tone that Jesus proffers to the marginalized, the broken, and the sinful. It doesn’t; no person is denied Christ’s gift of self. But while the open door is open to all, the door only leads to one place.

One matter of faith that the Holy Father returned to this week was that of gender theory. I know this is stating the obvious, but the Pope is not a fan.

You know what Pope Francis is a fan of? Pizza. Maybe he can share a pie with President Obama when the two get together later this year to discuss issues of mutual interest.

And finally, in case it wasn’t obvious yet that Pope Francis is a rock star, a group of cloistered nuns turned groupie when given the chance to meet the Holy Father. One sister managed to retain enough of her wits to present the Pope with a present (supposedly some baked goods) after mobbing him. As if this story couldn’t get any more adorable, Cardinal Sepe managed to throw in some good-natured zingers at the sisters’ expense:

“Sisters . . . Later. . . . well would you look at that. And these are the cloistered ones. Just imagine the non-cloistered ones,” he said, provoking laughter among the crowd gathered in the cathedral.

“They are going to eat him! Sisters . . sisters!”

Seriously, there is nothing more awesome than simple, unadulterated zeal. God bless these women.

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