A SHEPHERD WHO SMELLS OF HIS SHEEP
POPE FRANCIS IN BRAZIL

A SHEPHERD WHO SMELLS OF HIS SHEEP

[ Fr.Sunil De Silva - 23.07.2013 ]

As the Alitalia flight carrying Pope Francis landed in Rio de Janeiro, a palpable excitement filled the air as hundreds of thousands filled the streets of Brazil and millions following on TV and Internet, awaited the arrival of the first Latin American Pope in South America.

Journalists present on the plane stated that the Holy Father, in true humble fashion, asked permission to enter Brazil before descending from the plane. Welcoming Pope Francis was President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, civil authorities and prelates from the country. A children's choir welcomed the Pope with songs, bringing a smile to the Pontiff's face has he paused to listen.

Many were surprised as the Holy Father stepped inside a small Fiat Idea, not the usual automobile choice for a papal visit. Already this was an indication that this papal visit was going to be very different from any others.

Ecstatic believers forced the closed Fiat to stop several times as they swarmed around during the drive from the airport to an official opening ceremony in Rio's center. A few security guards struggled mightily to push the crowd back in scenes that at times looked alarming.

Francis, however, looked calm. He rolled down the window on the back passenger-side of the car where he was sitting, waving to the crowd and touching those who reached inside. At one point, a woman handed the pontiff a dark-haired baby, whom he kissed before handing it back.

After finally making it past crowds and blocked traffic, Francis switched to an open-air popemobile as he toured around the main streets in downtown Rio through mobs of people who screamed wildly as he waved and smiled. Many in the crowd looked stunned, with some standing still and others sobbing loudly.

The styles of both Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI were just as humble and friendly as Francis, the only difference being is that they followed the normal protocols set in place for their protection: bullet proof cars, routes along cordoned areas, etc.

Many use Pope Francis' humble style as a subtle dig at his predecessors for what they consider extravagant luxuries afforded to a Bishop of Rome who speaks on the need to help the poor from a golden throne.

They couldn't be more wrong. The successor to Peter doesn't "own" those luxuries, no more than a person hired for a greater position in their company doesn't "own" their new office with the beautiful view outside their window.

Pope Francis simply chooses to continue his way of doing things as he's always had when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. And this simple act is drawing the attention of millions as evidenced yesterday when the papal motorcade came to a standstill as the Pope's car was surrounded by faithful wishing to greet him.

Even more surprising, the Pope didn't hide; on the contrary, he kept his window open, greeting people as if nothing. The Pope's security detail, however, broke a sweat.

It may seem irresponsible for some, or even careless that a man of the Pope's stature be allowed to be swarmed like that but it truly is a testament to the bravery of Francis. It takes only one disgruntled or mentally unstable person to mix in with the crowd and endanger his life, yet he doesn't shy away. He opens his window and extends his hand. He wants to be a part of their lives, he wants to comfort them; a shepherd 'who smells like his sheep.'

This is the beauty of the World Youth Day. Looking back at the past 30 years, we see the scope of God's love through the Apostolic Visits. Blessed John Paul II brought the peace of God to the Soul, Benedict XVI challenged youth to love God with all their Minds, and now Francis brings the message of God's love to people's Hearts.

[ Zenit News - 23.07.2013 ]
Pope Francis waves as he is accompanied by Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff upon his arrival at the international airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, July 22, 2013
Pope Francis listens to Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff during his welcome ceremony at Guanabara Palace in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, July 22, 2013.
Pope Francis speaks during a welcome ceremony at Guanabara Palace in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, July 22, 2013.
Pope Francis used a simple, four-door Fiat for his ride into Rio from the airport and insisted on using an open top vehicle to greet visitors during a welcome procession through the city center.....
A crowd in a rush approaches the silver Fiat carrying Pope Francis through Rio de Janeiro on Monday, July 22, 2013. Ecstatic believers forced the closed Fiat to stop several times as they swarmed around during the drive from the airport to an official opening ceremony in the center of the city.
Pope Francis waves from his popemobile as he make his way into central Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, July 22, 2013
A member of the security detail holds up a baby to Pope Francis as he makes his way in the popemobile into central Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, July 22, 2013
Pope Francis waves from his popemobile as he make his way into central Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, July 22, 2013
Youth & others approaching the Sacrament of Confession in Brazil, before the World Youth Day
A wooden cross, symbol of the World Youth Day given to young people of the church in 1983 by Pope John Paul II, is carried along Copacabana beach by pilgrims in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday July 21, 2013.
Pope Francis celebrates Mass inside the Aparecida Basilica in Aparecida, Brazil, Wednesday, July 24, 2013.
Pope Francis holds up the statue of the Virgin of Aparecida, Brazil's patron saint, during Mass in the Aparecida Basilica in Aparecida, Brazil, Wednesday, July 24, 2013
People pray outside the Aparecida Basilica during a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in Aparecida, Brazil.
EDITOR'S CHOICE