A higher duty

This week my mind, heart and blog are filled with my latest obsession … Pope Francis. Being of Jewish faith, one might think I am a rather unlikely “Pope Groupie." It began the very first time I heard this man speak. Pope Francis’ speech was soft but his message was strong. He spoke of his humble beginnings, the importance of family, his need for living simply and implored us to be kind to those less fortunate. He fully understood the magnitude of his new role and the importance it had on the world. He closed that speech as he does so many to this day with a simple and genuine request, “I ask all of you to pray for me.” And so began my obsession.

After a few months of friendly “stalking”, I realized we not only live by so many of the same principles, but speak the same language too—kindness. Most of what he said I have been believing all my life. It wasn’t long before I found myself wishing to be his friend because he simply makes my heart happy. The moment I heard he was coming to Philadelphia, I dreamt I would invite him for lunch and make him my special tuna sandwich; simple yet delicious. We would sit and eat while I shared these thoughts with him.

  • Thank you for making a conscience effort to live modestly. In a world that seems all too consumed with material possessions, you chose to live in the simple Vatican guesthouse rather than the Papal residence. You prefer to travel in a small black Fiat rather than a limousine.

  • You have demonstrated to the world that looking into the eyes of another human being matters.

  • I loved your thoughts about schools:
    “...School is a second home. This is not only important for you, but also for your families. School then ends up being one big family. One where, together with our mothers and fathers, our grandparents, our teachers and friends, we learn to help one another, to share our good qualities, to give the best of ourselves, to work as a team and to pursue our dreams.”

  • Your explanation of moving was spot on:
    “...I know that it is not easy to have to move and find a new home, new neighbors and new friends. It is not easy.
    At the beginning it can be hard, right? Often you have to learn a new language, adjust to a new culture, even a new climate. There is so much to learn! And not just at school. The good thing is that we also make new friends, we meet people who open doors for us, who are kind to us. They offer us friendship and understanding, and they try to help us not to feel like strangers. To feel at home. How nice it is to feel that.”

  • I was so touched how you described the family:
    “The family remains the basic unit of society and the first school in which children learn the human, spiritual and moral values which enable them to be a beacon of goodness, integrity and justice in our communities.”

  • You nailed it regarding bullying and compassion:
    “Human dignity is the same for all human beings: when I trample on the dignity of another, I am trampling on my own.”

  • YES! YES! YES!
    “We all have the duty to do good.” and “A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.”

  • Watching you embrace people of all walks of life, colors, shapes, sizes and capabilities always makes me cry and gently reminds me to be more accepting of others.

Pope Francis requested to stop his motorcade to get out and bless Michael Keating.

Pope Francis requested to stop his motorcade to get out and bless Michael Keating.

Ahh, but of course he has no time for lunch with me during his once in a lifetime visit to Philadelphia. Our city has shut down the highways and bridges to vehicular traffic. Schools are closed. Confused nine-year-old Ivy even asked her Mom, “Is Pope the name of a hurricane?” I get that. Even I have done the hunkering down thing. I cannot peel myself from the endless television coverage—even turning up the volume of his televised church service.

What I know is that he is one man, just one little 78-year-old man that seems to be changing this world one smile, one word and one kind deed at a time. If he can, then why can’t we? After all, is it not our duty?

Moral: The Pope’s actions speak louder than his very own words: Keep smiling and help bring joy to everyone you meet.”

your incredibly moved friend, 

A little thing I wish to say to Pope Francis: Thank you for making this world a happier place one smile, one word and one kind deed at a time!