He comes to us as the Successor of Peter and as the Vicar of Christ. But he also brings with him a message straight from the Gospels of Jesus Christ: open your hearts and lives, be embraced by the love and mercy of God!
Pope Francis as our Pope is doing two amazing things: first, he is calling each of us to a deeper life in Jesus, and urging us to imitate in our lives the words and actions of Jesus during his life and ministry. And secondly, he is calling us as members of His Body, the Church, to be more authentic, welcoming, and inclusive in reaching out to all peoples--especially the poor and those on the fringes of society.
People ask me all the time: "What kind of Church is Pope Francis proposing for us?" The answer is simple: the Church of the Acts of the Apostles. Pick up your Bible, and begin re-reading slowly the Acts of the Apostles--and you will see unfolding the community of believers where the focus is on the local level: parishes and Dioceses. The Second Vatican Council called this subsidiarity--decisions and actions are best taken at the lowest level possible.
I am particularly interested in listening as Pope Francis challenges us--members of a nation of immigrants--to welcome the newest wave of immigrants and refugees to our shores.
Let us join our prayers in welcoming Pope Francis, and in opening our hearts and souls to his inspiring call to love, mercy, acceptance, and welcome!