Today’s readings

What an incredible privilege to gather today to pray for our new Holy Father, Pope Francis!  These have been historic days, and I am sure we have all felt the movement of the Holy Spirit on all those involved, from Pope Emeritus Benedict, humbly retiring so that the Church could be led with new vigor, to the cardinals gathered in conclave surrounded with prayer, to the announcement of our new Pope, just two days into the deliberations.

First impressions say a lot, we all know that.  And I think Pope Francis made a wonderful one.  He began by leading us in prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, by showing some humor in his remarks about being chosen from the ends of the earth, to the absolutely incredible favor that he asked of all of us, our prayer and blessing, before he gave the Apostolic Blessing itself.  I must say that I was rather moved by his humility, because I see in that humility a reflection of God himself.

Today’s readings give us that blueprint.  Jesus himself brushed aside human praise, and humbly deferred to the Father.  He holds up Moses as the quintessential leader.  We see that in the first reading, when Moses courageously comes to the aid of his people rather than accepting the fact that God was going to destroy them.  We see in these readings that a leader needs to be courageous and humble, and I think we will be seeing that in Pope Francis as well.

Today we continue our prayer for him.  His job is a big one – it always has been and today’s issues are as daunting as those of previous centuries.  He has chosen the patronage of Francis of Assisi, which points to his embrace of poverty, but also embraces Saint Francis’s call to rebuild the Church.

These are historic days, and how blessed we are to see them!  May our prayers and the leadership of Pope Francis guide and sustain the Church!

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent: Mass for the Pope

Today’s readings

The great sin of the rich man may not have been the sin of neglecting poor Lazarus, although that was certainly bad.  His greatest sin, though, was that he trusted in himself and not in God.  He had everything he needed in life, because he was able to trust in himself to get it.  But he never had a relationship with God.  Now in death, he wants the good things God will provide for those who trust in him, people like Lazarus for example.  But he has already made his choice, and unfortunately now, trusting in himself doesn’t bring him anything good.  Blessed are they, the Psalmist says today, who hope in the Lord.

Today we also celebrate the last day of the pontificate of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.  Benedict is a man who truly has trusted in God, and has continued to do so in his last days.  Rather than cling to power in his last days, as his health deteriorates, he has trusted in God to lead the Church and has resigned the pontificate, which has been rather unprecedented in recent centuries.

And so we give thanks today for the leadership of Pope Benedict, for his strength and spirituality and intellect, all of which have allowed him to serve God and the Church with grace as pope, as a cardinal before that, and a theologian.  Like the one of whom Jeremiah speaks in our first reading, Benedict’s life has been fruitful and has given life to the Church.

As we look forward to the election of his successor, we pray that the Spirit will continue to guide the Church in the years ahead.  Blessed are we who hope in the Lord!