Today, Our Father Was BornApril 17th, 2013
“Today our father was born,” I remarked to my husband over dinner on March 13.
Odd as it sounds, it’s true. Earlier that day, our new father was presented to us, and to the world, wearing white with a single-handed wave and a simple greeting – “Fratelli e sorelle, buonasera!” (Brothers and sisters, good evening!)
Our pope is our father. When the white smoke began puffing out of the Vatican chimney, and bells, beeps and rings were heard around the world, Catholics rejoiced because they once again had a Papa.
Catholics also took a deep breath with the suspense, the joyful anticipation. When one is about to meet his new father, there is a sense of wonder, excitement, and even trepidation. Who is he?
We have met our new Papa, Pope Francis. For most of us, our first sight of the man in white standing silently on the Vatican loggia, staring at us while we stared at him, was our first acquaintance with this man. We saw his gentleness, his humility, his simplicity in those first moments.
We wanted to learn more, so we turned to television commentators, websites and Wikipedia. What can all that has been written really tell us about who Pope Francis will be? He is still a mysterious character, but he is also now our father, no longer one of a long list of unknown cardinals who are considered “papabile.”
If there’s one thing we may have learned in the weeks since Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI announced his resignation on February 11, it is this: God knows what we need far better than we know for ourselves.
It was a message writ large in white smoke on March 13. One billion of us had been analyzing, arguing, advising, and yes, pontificating, about who our next Holy Father should be. An evangelist! A manager! A multi-linguist! A theologian! A liberal! A conservative! One commentary I read said that we were asking for nothing less than Christ Himself, not His vicar on earth.
But when the 115 men in red closed the doors of the Sistine Chapel, there was nothing more for us to do but to pray. And so we did. And when millions of people pray for God’s will, we shouldn’t be surprised to be surprised.
After Pope Francis was first revealed as our Holy Father, I heard so many say the word, “perfect” – that he had the perfect name, the perfect background for this role.
We think we know what’s best in so many areas in our life – what we should do, where we should go, how we should live, how many children we should have, what school we should attend, what Church teachings we should choose to believe. We even have the audacity to think we know what’s best in choosing our own father.
But a real father? He is someone given to us by God. He is someone chosen for us, and we are chosen for him.
Pope Francis is teaching us humility in more ways than one. His presence exudes it, yes, but his presence also reminds us that we are not God. It’s a good thing too, because God, our Heavenly Father, truly knows best.