Friday, December 13, 2013

Person of the Year

Here is an excerpt of what TIME has to say about the just-named Person of the Year.

What do you have do say about him? 

"Wednesdays, he has a general audience around lunchtime in St. Peter’s Square, which brings in the multitudes. On a bright December day, the festive crowd numbers about 30,000. It’s the season of light, and Francis is talking about the Resurrection. He appears to have a cold; he needs the handkerchief tucked in his robes. But his voice is strong, though higher than you’d expect, and more musical, like that of a storyteller with a full range of context and characters to bring to his mission of making you listen. He has a script in hand because once he finishes the lesson, it will be repeated by priests reading in French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, English and Arabic.

But every so often, he can’t help himself. The script falls to his lap and he leans forward, looks out over the crowd and just starts talking, his hands in the air, his voice stronger now, doing his own call and response. Jesus is risen, and so shall we be one day, he tells them. And as though they might not quite grasp the implication, he pushes them: “But this is not a lie! This is true!” he says. “Do you believe that Jesus is alive? Voi credete?” “Yes!” the crowd calls back, and he asks again, “Don’t you believe?” “Yes,” they cry. And now he has them. They have become part of the message. He talks about Christ’s love like a man who has found something wondrous and wants nothing more than to share it. “He is waiting for us,” Francis says. And when he comes to the end of his homily, the script drops once more. “This thought gives us hope! We are on the way to the Resurrection. And this is our joy: one day find Jesus, meet Jesus and all together, all together—not here in the square, the other way—but joyful with Jesus. This is our destiny.” Once the service ends, he greets the Cardinals in attendance on the dais, then walks over to meet first with the sick, then with special guests. Many have brought him gifts, mementos: a small statue of a merry Jesus on a yellow silk altar, a painting of Christ, a coffee-table book of photos from Austria. One man poses with him for a selfie; others do not want to let go of his hand. The ushers and security guards try to keep him moving, but he has more words to speak, pilgrims to meet and missions to launch before the day is over. It’s hard to imagine a setting farther from Pasaje C. But if Francis can order his steps, it’s not so far at all. "