“What are they protesting?” one woman asked me.
Sin, is the answer.
As Americans fought stormy weather going into Thanksgiving, Pope Francis urged Christians to live lives that reflect the eternal joy they’re called to: To live as though they believe in Jesus Christ! Regardless of your religion or lack thereof, this is something we should all support: Men and women of virtue and character in our midst make for better neighbors, better politics, better culture, better businesspeople and better lives.
In the streets of Philadelphia, on one of the first frigid nights of the season, the faithful gathered to give witness to what Pope Francis would urge a few weeks later: “The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.” He called the Church “a place for everyone, with all their problems.”
Many of the headlines about Pope Francis miss a central idea: If Christ is at the center of your life, it is a different kind of life; it is other-centered, it is mission-oriented, it leads you to the peripheries and is intolerant of indifference.
This is not new. But it is a reality that our dominant culture has decidedly, increasingly ignored.
Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Sales. Purchases. The image of the Magnificat Day of Faith in Philadelphia was Rembrandt’s “Head of Christ,” at the city’s Museum of Art. “The entire canvas is covered in a dark brown background, like the shadow of sin that engulfs all humankind,” Magnificat president Pierre-Marie Dumont reflects. “Then, from the very core of this abyss emerges a gentle light that warms without burning, that illuminates without blinding, that consoles without condemning,” he continues. “Thus, from the heart of sin, grace flows forth.”