Hello, world, are you listening?

As the time for the Papal visit draws near, the media frenzy is warming up. At Mass on Sunday the priest asked us to imagine, for a moment, that we were able to speak, on TV and Radio to the whole world. What would we say about our faith? I suspect I was not the only one in that congregation to feel their mind go blank. Add another element into the mix, that people are expecting you to speak with authority, to an audience which is not entirely sympathetic, and in a language which is not your mother tongue. Include another factor, that people are looking for sound-bites, easy fixes, simple-to-grasp concepts, because that is what they are used to hearing. Of course, you have advisors, the priest reminded us, and then he paused, while we thought about that part. It didn’t take long to realise that advisors can be a mixed blessing, especially when they may have their own agendas, their own shopping list of ideas they want to get across.

All things considered, I do not envy the Pope the task that lies ahead. He has an extremely busy schedule, he is beyond the age when many people would have retired and gone to live in peace and quiet somewhere, and the world’s press are hanging on his every word. It’s almost as if the Holy Father is in the dock, trying to defend himself from this media attack. Fortunately, he has the Holy Spirit to help him, and as Mark’s Gospel reminds us,

Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. (Mark 13:11)

Before the end of his sermon, the priest told us that, although we may not be asked to speak in front of the whole world, we may get the chance to speak to someone about our faith during the forthcoming days. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will help all of us to say the right thing, something helpful and affirming which reveals the love of God to whoever is listening.

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