Monday Devotional
Dear Friend, 
Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, has shown himself to be a very humble and approachable leader.  He is a wonderful example of faithfulness to us all. 
 
Recently, Pope Francis visited the children of St. Paul of the Cross outside of Rome.  The children were invited to come to a microphone to ask the pope any question.  One young boy, identified as Emanuele, stood before the pope but couldn’t articulate his question.  He stood there sobbing.  After a moment, perhaps a bit embarrassed, he returned to his seat.  The pope summoned him to come forward. 
 
Emanuele came forward, stood alongside the pope, still weeping.  Francis embraced the lad and asked him to speak his question.  For a few moments the two exchanged words.  Even if the conversation had remained private between the two, it would have been a beautiful moment.  But, after Emanuele returned to his seat, Francis shared their conversation.
 
Emanuele’s father had recently died.  He had brought all his children to be baptized, but he did not attend church himself.  Emanuele wanted to know if his father was in heaven. 
 
Francis shared this question with all present and then proceeded to answer in a very compassionate way.  First he pointed out that Emanuele’s father must have been a good man to have produced such a fine and caring son.  Then he noted that it took faith for the father to baptize his children, even if he struggled with faith himself.  He wanted them to have what he struggled to find. 
 
Francis then pointed out that God has a “father’s heart.”  Speaking to all Emanuele’s friends Francis asked whether they thought God would abandon someone with such a good heart.  They resoundingly answered, “No.”  Smiling at the young boy, Francis said, “There is your answer.” 
 
It was a good answer.  Thoughtful and compassionate to a grieving child.  Respectful of a good man who, for whatever reasons, struggled with faith.  Above all, it is theologically respectful of the grandeur of God’s love and grace.  Humans are the ones who try to limit God’s love, even deciding who is worthy and who is not.  But God loves each of us, in our times of faithfulness and in times of struggle, with a limitless love.
 
Remember that you are loved.  And may we love those around us with that same heart.
 
Peace,
  
Howard