Pope Francis in His Own Words
BOOK PICK: Encountering Truth: Meeting God in the Everyday
Meeting God in the Everyday
By Pope Francis
Image Books, 2015
416 pages, $25 (e-book, $12.99)
To order: imagecatholicbooks.com
I’ll admit there are times I have heard things attributed to Pope Francis that have made me wonder: “What did he say?”
That’s why I looked forward to reading this book, encountering Francis in his own words. It was a rewarding experience.
There’s no doubt the Pope is a master of the brief homily: packed but not abstract, bringing the word of God into the practical demands of everyday, with key expressions and concepts repeated to make a point for the congregation. This book is a collection of 186 of the Holy Father’s homilies, preached in the St. Martha guesthouse almost every day, from March 25, 2013 (two weeks after his election), to March 20, 2014.
The typical text runs one to two pages. Reading these texts provides an insight into the contours and depth of the Pope’s thinking. Even more importantly (the Pope would say most importantly), they should help you to make your daily progress in holiness more real and more concrete.
For one, the Pope always tries to make an application to everyday life, not on some global or systemic level, but on the level of the problems, peccadillos and pecados impeding our progress in holiness.
Take the problem of gossip: Francis compares gossip to Judas. Just as the apostle sold out his Friend for money, so gossipers reduce friends to a commodity to up their own value. “This happens when we gossip about each other. This is selling, and the person about whom we are gossiping is a piece of merchandise; he becomes merchandise. And how easy it is for us to do this! It is the same thing that Judas did. When he betrayed Jesus, Judas had his heart closed; he had no understanding, no love, no friendship. So when we gossip we, too, have no love, no friendship; everything becomes merchandise: We sell our friends, our relatives. Let’s ask for forgiveness, because when we do this to a friend, we do it to Jesus, because Jesus is in this friend. And if we realize that someone has shortcomings, let’s not get justice with our tongues, but let’s pray to the Lord for him.”
Francis knows there is a real, objective moral order out there: “Jesus asks all of us to remain in his love. So it is precisely from this love that the observance of the commandments is born. This is the Christian community of the ‘Yes’ that remains in the love of Christ and sometimes says, ‘No’ because there is that ‘Yes.’ Because I love the Lord, I will not do this or that.”
And the Holy Father returns repeatedly to this intimate, personal level. Discussing confession, for example, he says: “When a child comes to confession, he never says anything vague. ‘But Father, I did this; and I did this to my aunt. I said this word to somebody else, and they say the word. They are concrete; they have the simplicity of the truth.”
The “simplicity of the truth” may not lend itself to sound bites. But it’s that simple truth that Francis tries to remind us of — every day.
John M. Grondelski writes from