Pope Francis has a loving spirit and a poetic heart. He’s not a poet in the traditional sense, as Shakespeare was. He doesn’t sit back and observe, then delight or sober us with fresh, new language that brings to life characters whose traits remind us of ourselves, or of people we’ve met in our own lives. No, he’s a different kind of poet.
He gets around, he sees wrongs, he understands that time is short, both his and ours. Therefore, he sings a new song he hopes will get in our heads and drive us to see what he sees before time runs out on us all. He’s pushy that way. In this world where hate and violence have become commonplace, Pope Francis rarely says things we’ve heard before, like “Love your neighbor” or “Turn the other cheek.” He realizes we need something more to work with here. “Well, what can I do, right here and now?” He knows we want to know.
So he picks us up where we are and places us in a metaphor. He joins it with what we’ve seen on TV, on YouTube, on Facebook, or wherever we go for news of the human condition. Then, like the poet he is, he turns it so we see ourselves in its reflection, as in this lovely caveat: If our heart is closed, if our heart is made of stone, then the stones will end up in our hands and, then, we will be ready to throw them at someone.
He’s gently telling us to soften up, or we may become what we say we hate. And here’s a definition of love that says what it does today: Love dispels ideologies.