In His Light: Time’s Person of the Year… Humanity servant of the year

January 14, 2014

In only 273 days into his papacy His Holiness, Pope Francis, was announced as Time magazine’s Person of the Year laureate for 2013! Since March 18, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, has artistically commenced to unfold his vision for his beloved Church under his pontificate. 

It appears daily that we are learning something new about this spirit-filled man of humility and simplicity. Even his life before entering seminary exemplifies the character and complexity of his nature, working as a janitor, laboratory technician and bouncer.

Nevertheless, the one pastoral jewel of His Holiness’ ministry, before and after his elevation to the papacy, has been his late-night visits to minister to the poor and homeless on the streets. 

His compassion and mercy is permeating, no longer in the baleful slums and alleys of Buenos Aires, but now in the ghostly tenements and ghettoes of the Eternal City! 

On Dec. 8, as Rome’s Christmas shopping season began, Pope Francis paid a personal visit to Via Condotti Street (tantamount to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Calif.) and prayed aloud in front of a statue of our Blessed Mother for people to “never be left indifferent to the cries of the poor.” 

His Holiness later prayed that our Blessed Mother would help everyone “to remain listening, attentively to the voice of the Lord,” so that “the cry of the poor may not leave us indifferent, the suffering of the sick and the one who is in need may not find us distracted, the solitude of the elderly and the fragility of children may move us,” and that everyone “may always love and venerate every human life.” 

We are a couple of weeks removed from family and friends holiday gatherings, and many of us are still storing away holiday ornaments until the next season. However, there are literally thousands of our brothers and sisters within our nation to whom Dec. 25, 2013, and Jan. 1, 2014, were just two more days subsisting on the fringes of American society. 

Pope Francis stated, “The measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need, those who have nothing apart from their poverty.” 

As we begin another new year engulfed in “wishful” resolutions to lose those unwanted pounds and exercise more, how many of us have openly and honestly pondered performing any acts of love and charity for those greatly suffering within our midst during 2014? 

The United States poverty rate was essentially unchanged at 15 percent in 2012, as roughly 46.5 million people were stuck living at or below the poverty line, according to the United States Census Bureau. 

This marks the second straight year that both the poverty rate and total number of people living in poverty were stuck at their current levels. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment from 2010-2012. 

Almost all the hungry people, 852 million, live in developing nations, representing 15 percent of the population of developing nations. 
There are 16 million people undernourished in developed nations. 

What are the probabilities that someone reading this column at this moment in time will one day be named Time magazine’s Person of the Year? 

What are the probabilities that someone reading this column at this moment in time will one day be the “spiritual leader” of 1.2 billion followers worldwide? What are the probabilities that someone reading this column at this moment in time could make a monetary contribution or volunteer a few hours to their neighborhood food bank and, if there is no neighborhood food bank, establish one? 

What are the probabilities that someone reading this column at this moment in time blessed by their Creator with the talents and gifts of “Gardening” to begin a community garden where all those who toil in the soil also get to share in the bounty of the soil? 

May the following words of His Holiness come to dwell and live within our hearts during this year of 2014, “Let us ask the Lord to give us the gentleness to look upon the poor with understanding and love, devoid of human calculation and fear.” 

It is my hope and prayer that the Creator of everything that is good and holy will always keep us In His Light in 2014.