It’s often a struggle for ordinary people, like you and me, to relate the Gospel to our lives each day. Thankfully, Pope Francis knows this.
Have you ever noticed that he’s all about practicality? He understands what everyday life in the world entails and he wants to meet us there. Simply put, he wants his words to be practical enough to make a difference in our homes and families.
As usual, Pope Frank uses himself as an example. He’s always already acting on what he challenges us to everyday. Recently, he’s been encouraging people to start focusing on the Gospels each day. But he is practical about it. How can we focus on the Gospel throughout the day when we are constantly going from one thing to the next? Pope Francis suggests we do what he does—carry a small portable copy of the Gospel with us, in our purse or even in our pocket.
“At any time in the day I take the Gospel out of my pocket and read a little something, a short passage. There we find Jesus, Who speaks to us, in the Gospel! Think about this. It is not difficult, and it is not even necessary to have all four of them
: we can carry just one of the Gospels, a little copy, with us at all times."
Pope Frank is clear with us. His suggestion is simple. And to make it even easier, at his regular Sunday Angelus in St. Peter’s square on April 6, he handed out thousands of pocket-sized copies of the Gospel to the people there. He’s determined to get people to focus on what’s most important—Christ—throughout their days…even if that means he has to put a copy of the Gospel right in their hands.
Why is this so important to Pope Francis? He’s frank about that, too.
“To listen to Jesus, we need to be near to Him, to follow Him, as did the crowds in the Gospel who ran after him through the streets of Palestine." He wants us to listen
to what Jesus is telling us amidst the turmoil of each day. This can be accomplished by carrying a copy of the Gospel in our pockets (smartphone, anyone?), meditating on the daily Gospel readings from Mass each day, or even just opening the Bible over our lunch break, before work, before meals, and before bed.
Not convinced that the pope understands the life of ordinary people like us? Here’s what he recently said about marriage:
“We are well aware of the many difficulties and trials there may be in the life of a married couple…There are always arguments in marriages, and at times even plates are thrown.”
Yes, Pope Francis is talking about our kitchen plates. He isn’t sugarcoating anything for us. He even joked about bringing in the “United Nations peacekeepers” to solve our marital melees.
Then, as always, he relates these everyday struggles to Christ. We are human, he said, so we shouldn’t be discouraged when arguments happen.
“Love is stronger than the moments in which we argue. Keep alive the link with God, which is at the basis of the matrimonial bond.” This happens through prayer—or even a “little gesture: a caress.” A very physical and concrete suggestion from our pope.
We’ve seen it time and time again, but the examples of the pocket Gospels and plate throwing can remind us that our pope is someone who is real…and relatable. Just like Jesus. So it’s the least we can do to hear what he has to say. Hopefully we will remember Pope Frank and turn to the Gospel next time we find ourselves throwing plates in the kitchen.
• Nagel is the executive assistant to the bishop at the Diocese of Bismarck. Her column on the words and actions of Pope Francis appears bi-monthly in the DCA.
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