The past two weeks have been seasoned wonderfully with the election of Pope Francis. I have loved learning about him, a little more each day.
What an intriguing person.
He is being enthusiastically received by so many, while also being criticised already for being both too traditional and breaking with tradition.
The words he spoke at his first audience, with the journalists who had covered the resignation and conclave, were beautiful, brilliant, and reveal his gift for evangelisation.
He told them that he loved them. He joked about how busy the Vatican had kept them over the past few weeks.
He called them to the higher ideals of their profession, which is above all to communicate the truth, and reveal the goodness and beauty in the world.
Already by his words and example he has brought to my own mind how little I do for the poor, especially those men, women and children who live in extreme poverty.
There are 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide and 1.5 billion people living in extreme poverty (meaning that they have to get by on less than $1.25 a day).
Even allowing that a proportion of these latter are themselves Catholics, it is still a scandal that Jesus’ Church is so large but we still have so many poverty-stricken people with us.
By contrast, I’m relatively very wealthy, so I have an obligation to do something for them.
Somehow I don’t think my small monthly donation to Caritas really cuts it when I can flirt with the idea of blowing $100 on a pair of designer black sandals because they’re on sale.
I’m giving something, but I’m sacrificing nothing.
Then there are the relative poor, those who have the material necessities to sustain their life but who still miss out on many of the social, economic and other opportunities to thrive which are taken for granted by most of their fellow countrymen and women.
If I really open my eyes, I’m sure I can find people like this in my own city, even within my own extended family.
There is scope for improvement here too, an opportunity to serve and love Christ by serving and loving the poor.
And, of course, I realise, too, that I myself am very poor, spiritually and humanly.
I need to look to those people I see around me whom are richer in wisdom in order to be enriched by them.
Pope Francis, and the saint he is named after, seem to be very fine examples for me as we enter Holy Week and the Easter tridiuum.