Late night sermon of Pope Francis, Advent 2013*
“So, that’s the point of hope,” I told her.
She frowned and turned her head the way some girls do. That little turn that always makes me want to forget what I promised heaven or, at the least, test the old tango, if you know what I mean.
“It’s not about what you know exactly to be true or necessarily to be coming true, that would be fate, and I’m not a fatalist, but it’s . . . it’s more like an idea, in the oldest, best sense of the word. A dynamic idea. . . . You understand?”
She looked away. Silent.
“More like a narrative than a decontextualized concept floating in the mind of Descartes,something like “the idea of her life” from Much Ado, spoken by the Friar of Hero--you remember that passage?--that this is the possibility and it has become the possibility to which you cling, how and why you cling is important, of course, as are the range of other possibilities, to which one may or may not cling, but these are not things to think about when you are in the midst of clinging.”
What are you talking about? Are you crazy.
“I’m talking about hope. Clinging. My vocation is to encourage clinging. With bloody fingernails, if need be, with teeth, arms, words, poetry, advent laments, late night arguments, church reform, hearing confession, the bread and wine, visiting the sick, love, especially love.”
She turned back again, but now with anger in her eyes.
“We cling to love, of course, but we also cling by love, unless I’m completely wrong. And I admit, I may have been wrong, I sometimes think I was wrong, about many things. Especially the girl, her eyes, her hair, her skin. The bridge over the stream, the berries, my head in her lap.”
Of course you were wrong. You know you were. I can see it in your eyes.
“What? No, I don’t know. How can I know?”
You know you were wrong, don’t be such an idiot. And now, you are still clinging. You have never let go.
“But that’s not the kind of clinging I meant, I meant . . . something else. I think.”
Ha. Of course. Don’t worry. It’s alright, now. You are alright. You’re still learning. That’s what matters.
“Are you sure?”
I hope so. Let’s hope so. Anyway, thank you for the money. The alms, as you call them. And the pizza. But please, some beer next time, eh?
“You have a pretty smile, my child.”
I know, thank you.
“You’re welcome. May I pray for you?”
No thank you.
“Are you sure?”
Yes, very sure. But would you do me one favor?
“Of course, anything.”
Kiss me on the forehead and call me ‘mia bella allodola.’
“Of course. Of course, I will do that. Is that what your mother called you?”
I see. Alright. Well, goodbye then. And . . . Adios, mi linda alondra.”
Grazie papa! Keep clinging. It’s good for you I think.
*Inspired by reports that Pope Francis frequently goes out into the streets of Rome late at night to give alms and talk with street people.