Let us set our hearts on heaven and our eyes on the world around us!
When Pope Francis invited two friends to join him on a trip to the Holy Land, on its face, the invitation was not unlike any extended by one friend to others …. “You want to go with me on a trip to ________?” But, when one friend was a Jewish Rabbi and the other was a Muslim friend and the destination was the Holy Land — the invitation and the trip was so much more than three friends traveling to a foreign destination.
As he has so often done, Pope Francis has taught by actions more than by words. It is one thing to call for tolerance, respect, and working together for a common good. It is a totally different matter to show friendship built over years in Argentina and friendship that acknowledges differences while focusing on the “bigger picture.” In the truest sense, these three men have “risen above” and “gone beyond” the real, but small differences — to a higher vision and goal.
Where Jesus has gone — we hope to follow. Believing that he has ascended into heaven, we declare that we want to go too. Believing that he has gone before to prepare the way, we want to follow the same road so as to reach the same destination.
But, until it is time to follow him, there is work for us to do … to make disciples of all the world. In other words, set our hearts on heaven and our eyes on the world around us.
Our world lost the poet Maya Angelou this week …. she once said, people will forget what you said and some will forget what you did …. but no one will forget how you made them feel.
People will not forget how we made them feel ….. uplifted or put-down; accepted or rejected; welcomed our an outsider.
This weekend our family will bury an 88-year-old member — my Dad’s sister, an Aunt. Where she has gone, where my parents have gone, I want to go … I want to be there among them … and Jesus will come back to take me to himself and to them …. one day. But for now, there is a mission … there is work to be done … no time for looking up into the heavens or the clouds … time to make disciples.
Making disciples by teaching v. witnessing … Pope Francis builds on a long tradition of faith …. and he seems to remind us that TODAY, witnessing is more important than words. People may question our teaching or our dogma … people may bring up the failures of our institutional structure … people may point to our flawed, human leaders …. but, people will never forget the way we made them feel.
It is a waste of time to wonder or worry what heaven will look like. It is a waste of time to argue about dogma. Our world is waiting for us to lead by example and to focus on what matters to people ….. rather than what matters to us.
A Christian name, our Christian faith, our appreciation of the Saints are all good ….. but MORE IMPORTANT is Christian action and a holy life.
A Pope, a rabbi, and a Muslim went to Israel. They embraced — where they are, we need to be. Let us set our hearts on heaven and our eyes on the world around us.