I come before you
with empty hands…
Very often Pope Francis seems to echo the saints and mystics.
He speaks of the tenderness of God - the great love of God, who, as many mystics have noted, 'loves us unto folly'. The Holy Father seems to have that sentiment at heart, as well as the spiritual childhood of Little Therese of Lisieux - who incidentally, preferred to be known as little Therese - no one great in the eyes of the world. I think the Holy Father is very much like her.
Today's homily from Pope Francis touches upon this great love of God - especially for those who feel estranged from it:
God loves is free - the Pope continued - just as a mother’s love is for her child. And the child "allows himself to be loved": "this is the grace of God." "But many times, just to be sure, we want to control the grace". He said that "in history and also in our lives we are tempted to transform grace into a kind of a merchandise ...
"In this way this beautiful truth of God's closeness slips into a kind spiritual book-keeping: 'I will do this because it will give me 300 days of grace ... I will do that because it will give me this, and doing so I will accumulate grace'. But what is grace? A commodity? That’s what it appears. And throughout history this closeness of God to his people has been betrayed by this selfish attitude, selfish, by wanting to control grace, to turn it into merchandise".
"St. Paul reacts strongly against this spirituality of the law.’I am right, and this and this. If I do not do this I am not right'. But you are right because God has drawn close, because God caresses you, because God tells you these beautiful things with tenderness: this is our justice, this closeness of God, this tenderness, this love. At the risk of seeming ridiculous our God is so good. If we had the courage to open our hearts to this tenderness of God, how much spiritual freedom we would have! How much! - Vatican Radio
How Thereseian. How much like the Desert Fathers when the Holy Father speaks in his little commentaries on the daily readings. These are heartfelt meditations which seem to echo the simplicity of the little saints. The message today very much parallels the spirituality of St. Therese of Lisieux, who desired to love God unto folly, recognizing and accepting that God loves us unto folly - the folly of the cross.
What St. Therese did encounter in her own culture was the preoccupation with perfection, merit, degrees of sanctity. The situation of the child enables her to accept weakness and limitation and to trust in God's love and mercy. God as father is a warm and inviting image for her. While perhaps not the ipsissima verba of Therese, the sense of 'spiritual childhood' is recorded in the Last Conversations:
"It is to recognize our nothingness, to expect everything from God as a little child expects everything from its father; it is to be disquieted about nothing, and not to be set on gaming our living. ... To be little is not attributing to oneself the virtues that one practices. ... It is not to become discouraged over one's faults, for children fall often, but they are too little to hurt themselves very much."
St. Therese is providing an alternative view of relationship to God: not a formal, stiff, perfectionist, scrupulous, fearful model, but a relaxed, loving, open and meaningful one. - St. Therese and Spiritual Childhood
Pope Francis seems to be doing the same thing.