Well, the day has come. If you still find yourself thinking: “Donald Trump: President” with some disbelief, dread, or excitement, you’re not alone. The full panoply of human emotions seems to revolve around him.
Whether you voted for him or not, whether you have strong feelings about him or not, can we all, together, consider having hope?
Without saying a word about Barack Obama or Donald Trump, Pope Francis on Tuesday seemed to offer a pep talk for us Americans in his morning homily.
Not for the first time, I read one of Francis’s morning homilies and thought: Goodness, this is so applicable and relevant as if to have been directed exactly at us — at me — for right now.
Of course, he’s preaching the Gospel, so that’s exactly the case.
And whatever you think about Pope Francis, he is a faithful Jesuit spiritual director to the world. In particular, his daily morning homilies when he celebrates Mass at the Santa Marta residence, the hotel within Vatican grounds where he’s lived since the beginning of his pontificate, lead us in examining our consciences. Like a good father, he’s trying to make us be better Christians. He’s trying to get us to be authentic.
On Tuesday, as we in the U.S. were preparing for Trump’s inauguration, Pope Francis preached about hope. He said that it is probably “the least understood” of the virtues, yet it also is “the strongest.”
He insisted on courage. “Hope: living in hope, living on hope, always looking forward with courage,” he said. He contrasted this life of hope with a “selfish” life that is stationary.
People who don’t take risks, he insisted, don’t seem to make mistakes. But they’re not making any progress either.
Whatever you think of the new president of the United States, he’s new. The concept of a non-politician as president is a novelty in the U.S. And those who voted for Trump welcome his inauguration with the hope that this uniqueness will make a difference, will shake up bureaucracies and Washington, a city associated with dysfunction and self-interest.
I’ve long been an advocate of finding the good in D.C. and encouraging it. I’d like to see us do the same with this new president.
This is a time for a new beginning. And there is something beautiful about that peaceful transition of power – and also the hope that the process will repeat itself in four years. I know I clung to that for the last two inaugurations, and that many do so today!
It doesn’t matter if you voted for him or not nor if you think he’s good news or a potential tyrant … Pray for him. And know that there are good men and women in D.C. who are led by a desire to serve, and some of them have been hired or are currently being considered for jobs in the new administration.
There are a lot of Christians in Washington. In fact, a majority of the elected officials in town are. And perhaps, that can make a difference.
Back when Pope Benedict XVI was in our capital in 2008, the archdiocese ran an ad on the Metro, the train stations and on buses with a quote from his encyclical on hope, Spe Salvi: “One who has hope lives differently.” Even in the halls of federal power, people were being called to have hope.
If the majority of Congress, the incoming and the still-to-be hired staff of the White House, who identify themselves as Christians (and even those who don’t), kept Pope Francis’s and Benedict’s remarks in mind on their morning commutes, this could absolutely be a new and hopeful day for Americans.
Granted: Hope isn’t something that comes from Washington. However, it can sure transform the place if people in public office are encouraged to see faith and virtue as a necessary force with game-changing possibilities. These are not things to compartmentalize, privatize and keep to Sabbath time.
“Moving forward with hope.” That sounds good, doesn’t it? Draw into this approach. Draw others into it, as well. It’s the kind of thing that could be contagious. And, yes, even in Washington, D.C.
Additionally, during his Thursday morning homily, Pope Francis talked about temptation, and the daily struggles with good and evil, in ways big and small. Stay in the fight, he urged. Persevere!
When the inauguration comes, have hope, like those who voted for him do.
However, if you give President Donald Trump a chance and you don’t like what you see, engage! After all, civil disagreement is some of the best of America. Despondency isn’t.