Recently, Samsung released their newest version of the Galaxy phone. They did so with a live unveil, and while electronics aficionado’s the world around began frothing at the mouth, I wonder if quite possibly, the words of Pope Francis and the example he lives through with his namesake arrived at just the right time.
I recall being a bright eyed seven-year-old and having the teacher wheel in one of those giant TV/VCR combinations that generally was reserved for some sleep inducing National Geographic video when the substitute came to class. Coincidentally, these are now shows I seek out to watch with my children, who are not yet old enough to consider them boring. Before I get ahead myself, though, this day was different. This day was January 28, 1986. We sat at the edge of our seats to watch the Challenger ride into space, and with this event, nothing was impossible to this starry eyed boy.
I mention this event in contrast to the release of a phone in the respect of what we consider to be important today. Before you astutely point out the result of this launch, I should apprise you of the fact that the result of this event is not an indictment of its lesson. I am not naïve enough to discount the importance of technology and understand that demand drives the market, but the utilitarian dreamer in me tells me that we have maybe crossed the impasse of what is best for the world today. In an effort of full disclosure, this is the time in which I confess to only owning a flip phone for emergencies. In further disclosure, I confess that I own this phone because my in-laws purchased it for my wife and me.
This is why the humility of Pope Francis and his namesake arrived at just the right time.
Francis of Assisi did just this; lived a life of humility and did so to the jeers of his contemporaries and family to boot. He took to the streets to join the beggars and do the work of the poor. In the gospel of Matthew, reportedly having made an impression on Francis it says, “Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep” (Matthew, 10:9-10). Francis of Assisi abandoned a world of possession and did the work for those that the world would forget. He slept amongst them in squalor and prayed with them as equals. It is no mistake that he is one of the most venerated religious figures.
In a day and time where the world seems to move too fast to be concerned with anything beyond your nose, it is important to remember that the world does simply not move that fast.
Since his election to the papacy a year ago, Pope Francis has lived through the words and actions of Assisi. He set the tone by living in the papal guesthouse and removing bishops living the life of luxury. Despite the belief to the contrary of many, he has not wavered from doctrine; however, he has approached it with a more empathetic prose, a prose that champions the love and compassion of Christ. This week, as Francis elevated 19 new Cardinals, he reminded them that they have not entered a royal court; “A cardinal enters the Church of Rome, not a royal court. May all of us avoid, and help others to avoid habits and ways of acting typical of a court: intrigue, gossip, cliques, favouritism and preferences.” At a time when the Catholic Church desperately needed a media darling to restore its image, Francis is the right man at the right time.
A friend of mine lost his father this week and in his eulogy, he spoke to what was truly important. His father was a Journalism Professor and columnist who was highly respected and a genuinely brilliant man. While his professional achievements are worthy of our marvel, it is not noted as his greatest achievement. Tom Breen, speaking of his father, “He loved my brother and me, and the two of us have tried our whole lives to be worthy of his example; I became a journalist and my brother a college professor. (My brother is the smart one.) He loved his grandchildren and he loved his life, as hard as it was at times. Everything else he ever did pales before this, the real measure of a person: to love and be loved in return”. This, to me, is as good as it could be said. To show love and receive it in return is this world’s highest reward and certainly paramount to the unveiling of a new phone line.