What truly matters? Faith. Hope. Relationship to God and to one another. Mercy. Forgiveness. Compassion. Joy. Trust. Humility. Justice. We need only to look back a week to the readings for Mass on the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time to see that indeed it does matter that we be willing to be servants of one another, especially of the “least among us.” Or, we can look to the reading from the Letter of Saint James for the 26th Sunday and hear the warning and judgment: “Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud.” All these virtues matter. They matter because they forge a world that recognizes the dignity and worth of each and every person. They matter because they point to the way God has directed us to live our lives in harmony with one another and in union with God’s desires for our world.
We have been blessed this week by the presence and testimony of Pope Francis. He has given us reason to be proud, and he has challenged us on multiple occasions to live our lives in fidelity to core values and virtues, not the least of which is the care of our brothers and sisters most in need. If all we come away with from his visit is a memory of a warm presence, a lovely smile, and outreach to the throng that came to see him, we will have missed his message. As his visit concludes, may we all pay attention to the deeply challenging messages that he offered us, and may we take steps day after day to respond to those challenges. What truly matters? It matters that relationship with God demands that we build lasting bridges with one another, bridges that acknowledge that I am my brother’s, my sister’s keeper. It matters that faith exacts action. It matters that I must pay attention to my relationship to God, to you, to the earth, and to myself. When I see and act in a way that reflects that reality, then all the other parts of life will fall into their rightful place.
Take your next step: During the coming week, consider which of the virtues enumerated above you most need to cultivate in your life. Ask God to give the grace of that virtue to you and help you to live it richly and fully.