There is a natural tendency, whenever we host people, to strive to “put on our best face.” Especially when we are hosting dignitaries or people of influence, we try to impress them. How often when we have guests at our home do we hide the dirty laundry and gather up all of our rubbish and stuff it into the closet? We want them to see only what is good and beautiful.
I have been reflecting on that as I have read about all of the preparations that have been made in advance of the Pope’s visit. In the cities that the Pope plans to visit streets are being cleaned up and neighborhoods are being refurbished. Security is being heightened to keep away the “rabble and riff-raff.” Those who have been doing renovation work on St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York have been working overtime to make sure that the project is completed in time for the Pope’s arrival. All of our best VIPs are lining up to meet him.
On one hand, it’s nice to see. We should always want nothing but the best for those we love and respect. Yet, on the other hand, it’s hard to ignore the irony.
Our folksy, simple Pope will never be at home in the company of powerful politicians and celebrities. He is not the sort to bask in lavish accommodations or to savor the most sought-after delicacies. He would far rather ride on a public bus than in a fancy limo.
Pope Francis wants real every-day moments with those who are the least well-to-do and least favored. Like Christ, he would never want us to try to hide our dirty laundry from him. Instead he wants to uncover that which is most soiled, tattered, or stained and expose it to the healing mercy of God.
The coming of Pope Francis to our country reminds us of another visitation. Our Lord comes to us. He asks us not to put on faces but to strip away pretenses. He comes to help us to come to our senses.
We so badly need to come to our senses. I pray that the Pope’s visit bears great fruit, real fruit, for all of us.