Over the last few days, as the Holy Father was in Cuba, and now is in the United States, I have been hearing and seeing too much of a very sad thing. People have been highly critical of the Pope for what he has said, what he has not said, what he supposedly has said, what he supposedly does not understand, etc., etc.
A good bit of this is, I believe, well intentioned. Much of it, in my opinion, stems from honest misunderstanding. Some of it, unfortunately, comes from people who are in the grips of ideology and cannot see beyond their self-contained categories. Some of it, even more unfortunately, is openly hostile and disrespectful.
I am very, very guilty of second-guessing and fault-finding, and it is a constant refrain when I go to Confession. I totally understand its attraction — after all, I am always right about everything, and there’s something wrong with people who disagree with me (irony alert!). Still, it baffles me that so many Catholics are so easily willing to place themselves on the Throne of Peter and proclaim the Holy Father to be wrong about pretty much everything he says and does. The old joke has come true — there may be a shortage of vocations to the priesthood, but there appears to be no shortage of vocations to the papacy.
I have sworn off reading anything about the papal visit from the media (both Catholic and secular), and am committed to listening only to what the Holy Father actually says, not what people wish he had said, or what people think he has said. The Holy Father’s actual words are very easily accessible on the Vatican website.
This is not a time for us to be murmuring and complaining. This is a time for open ears and hearts. In Luke 10, we read:
Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Peter, the Vicar of Christ Himself, has come among us to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our day and age. The needful thing is for us to set aside our worldly cares and worries. They will be with us tomorrow, and always. The good portion is to to sit at his feet and listen attentively.