What strikes me most about Pope Francis and his visit to the United States and his speech to our Congress is his incredible gentle, warm presence. I am especially struck by who he is in contrast to the Republican presidential candidate currently leading the polls who has taken over the news for the Summer - Donald Trump.
What a relief it is to have this contrast. What a relief it is to have an oasis of kindness and gentleness in the midst of an endless assault of combative nastiness being spewed upon us by Trump (and his imitators in the Republican candidates).
The question most worth asking, in my opinion, is what is it to be a man? Is it Trump? bottomless wells of aggression, attacks, defensiveness, hostility, judgment, threats, and ultimately violence? Or is it Pope Francis? bottomless wells of caring, compassion, kindness, mercy, and love?
I think the question answers itself. To be a man, a true man, the Pope is the model, not Trump. Caring and understanding rather than attacking and intolerance.
Nothing could have better highlighted to the American mind the stark choices we are facing in this election than a man whose existence is rooted in his spiritual experience and understanding - as a contrast to a man whose existence seems to be rooted in his relentless pursuit of financial wealth and domination.
This has been the Summer of Trump. I am glad the Summer of Trump has ended - the Summer of aggression, hostility, threats, and bigotry.
I hope that we are entering the Autumn of Pope Francis - an Autumn of caring, compassion, tolerance, and understanding.
Just a string of the salient words from the Pope's address to the American people in Congress today: common responsibility, dignity, common needs, freedom, extremism, fundamentalism, polarization, hope, healing, peace, justice, respect, cooperation, common good, dreams, relate, crisis, persons, help, grow, cycle of poverty, environmental challenge, culture of care, selfishness, violence, build bridges, family, freedom, dreams, justice, The Golden Rule.
What a wonderful man. What a wonderful speech. It can open our hearts to God, and the love of God, and the caring for God's creations - each other.