I love our new Pope more every day. Any priest who is so filled with the Holy Spirit that he can tell the world not to walk around with a face like a pickled pepper is a saint in the making, in my opinion. This is a man who knows God, and who is still truly connected to people.
The Catholic News Service quoted the Pope giving a homily on joy recently. He told the parishioners that there is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is fine, but like many things of the world, it can become superficial, silly, and pointless. It can come and go, and when it goes it can leave behind emptiness. But joy is more than happiness. Joy in living with God fills us to overflowing every time. In fact, if we try to hold that joy for ourselves, says the Holy Father, we shrivel up inside, and that shows on our puss.
(As an aside, the story gave me this vision of a group of stodgy bishops in the back row, looking at each other in shock. “Did he really say that? The Pope can’t say pickle puss! We must issue a retraction. There will be a scandal.” In my imagination, the harrumphing that follows would carry on for days. But the Pope doesn’t care. Nor does Jesus. Joy rules. Pickle pusses drool.)
I was just reminded by my wife that I fall into the trap of being a sourpuss myself. As I look back on those rare (ha!) occasions, I realize that every time my face turned to vinegar and dill weed it was driven by a worry of the world. Job, house, economy, or auto maintenance, there are many times when I let the details of daily living push aside the joy of eternal living.
The Pope also tells us that joy is “a pilgrim virtue.” We are pilgrims on a difficult journey. But we are commanded to invite others along as we travel. Who would you rather walk with, a joyous pilgrim, or someone “with the face of a pickled pepper”?
God, please bless our holy Pope Francis as he leads us to you.