“going for it ! . . . “
When asked about the Pope’s health and stamina, someone who knew him when he became Pope at the age of seventy-six two years ago said that he’s gained a little weight since then because he hasn’t had a chance to get much exercise. He also has one lung, suffers from diabetes and moves with a sore hip. You’d never know it from watching him during this visit.
The vigorous schedule he has met since he touched down in Washington, D.C. yesterday has been remarkable. Not only that, you can tell that this guy is truly in the moment all the time. That same person who saw him two years ago said he got the impression at the time that the new Pope, despite his health and his age, was “just going to go for it.”
And so he has done. The fifty minute speech he gave to the Joint Houses of the U.S. Congress today was spoken in English although his native language is Spanish (he’s from Argentina) and he is also fluent in Italian. He said that the U.S. is still held in the world as a land of hope – and that we should live up to that symbol of hope. This national identity has been lost in translation by political mud-slinging that has become a national pastime, it seems.
Somebody with moral courage had to speak up as he has. And I’m glad he did. He asked for us to pray for him. And so we will, even those of us who are not Catholic nor even particularly religious in a formal sense.
People here talk all the time about wanting to “make a difference.” Pope Francis has illustrated how to talk the talk that’s long overdue while continuing to walk the walk all day long. For someone who is 78 years old, Pope Francis is a pretty amazing example of what “just going to go for it!” looks like — and it’s still unfolding before our very eyes.