They took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” John 12:13
Pope Francis visited the United States in September, 2015. His humble manner was apparent from the moment he stepped off “Shepherd One” to be met by President and Mrs. Obama. The Obamas’ unprecedented personal greeting of the pontiff was a sign of the high respect afforded him during his visit to this powerful and well-to-do nation during a time of economic, social, and political turmoil. The New York Times described the visit as a “security circus,” but Francis seemed oblivious to all the fuss. He exited the plane carrying his own valise, reported to contain a razor, a breviary (prayer book), an appointment book and a book to read. When he wasn’t riding in his open-air, Fiat-Chrysler-made Jeep Wrangler “Popemobile,” he was ferried around in an ordinary Italian-built Fiat featuring the custom license plate “SCV 1,” the initials for Status Civitatis Vaticanae, Latin for Vatican City State. The Pope insisted on foregoing the bullet-proof glass bubble atop the Jeep, so that he could be closer to the people. No small task for the security guards entrusted with his safety.
While Pope Francis wanted his visit to be about the people, other players were busy putting the trip together. ABC News reported that the pontiff brought about thirty people with him, including Vatican clergy and press. Although the pope speaks relatively good English, Monsignor Mark Miles served as interpreter for him when the message got tricky. Also accompanying him were seventy-six accredited journalists from all over the world. Pope Francis stayed at the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See, better known as the “Vatican Embassy,” nice accommodations but not as opulent as one might imagine.
Pope Francis is perhaps the best-loved leader of the Catholic Church in modern times. To his credit, he sincerely tries to keep things simple, honest and straightforward. The accompanying show of magnificence is in stark contrast to the way the Christ lived and moved and conducted Himself while in this world. I am quite sure this humble pope has considered how different his life style is than the Man Whom he represents.
Lord Jesus, thank You for wise and humble religious leaders. Amen