Peace in the heart of Christ! What a blessing it is to be St. Peter School when the successor of St. Peter, Pope Francis, is visiting our country. The excitement in the building has been palpable since the yesterday when Sister Michael announced after Mass that we would celebrate the Holy Father’s arrival with ice cream, one of his favorite foods.
As the children enjoyed their ice cream yesterday, younger students described their feelings about the Pope’s visit to the United States ranged. Many children felt happy, awesome, blessed, amazed, surprised that Pope Francis was here in our country. The influence of ice cream on their feelings at the moment is ambiguous.
It was certainly a memorable moment to watch Pope Francis come down the airplane steps at Andrews Air Force Base with the students in 1B. We were excited to see our Holy Father greet Catholic school students as he disembarked from the airplane. One child exclaimed, “They look just like us!” Isn’t it a joy to be Catholic?
One of the phrases that Pope Francis uses to describe our life as human beings is “culture of encounter”. In fact, he spoke of it again just this morning as he addressed the bishops of the United States. When we reflect on the life of Our Lord, it becomes clear how important it was for him to be close to the people. Little children, lepers, blind men, sinners…Jesus was able to reach them and was not afraid to enter into their experiences.
Now, Pope Francis is the visible head of the Church on earth, bringing the presence of Christ to the people of today’s world. He invites us to encounter other people as unique images of God. What a difference remembering this could make in our classrooms, playgrounds, homes, and workplaces. Our relationships would be transformed by the love of God.
The apostolic visit of Pope Francis to the United States demonstrates his desire to be with the people of our country. Most of us will not be able to travel to Washington D.C., Philadelphia, or New York to see Pope Francis in person. We are able to see him and hear his words through the blessing of technology. The Holy Father is here for each one of us, to remind us that we are cherished and loved by Our Lord.
May we receive with open hearts the love of Jesus for us that is demonstrated through the life and words of Pope Francis!