Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The End of 2013: We Have Grown in This Year

It is New Year's Eve.

Has the year gone by quickly? No way! I feel like we've lived through a decade. On New Year's Eve of 2012, I would never have imagined what kind of a year this would be. So many things happened. But just look at 2013 in terms of its most public drama.

Twelve months ago, if you had asked me, "who is the most famous Argentinian in the world?" I would have said, "Lionel Messi, of course!"

[He's a soccer player, just in case you don't know...]

Jorge who?

My gosh, no one saw that coming.

I woke up one February morning, opened up Twitter and saw *Pope Benedict Resigns* on someone's tweet, and I thought, "Yeah, right! What's this, The Onion again? Or someone is spreading pseudo-news on Twitter. Some joke! I'm not fooled, no sirree, not me, I'm know how this goes, ha. ha. ha. ..."

Here was Pope Benedict on Twitter, just the day before. What could be more solid that that?

My main man! The Pope who reassures me every day about God's mercy.

There were so many days when Benedict had words in a tweet, or a homily or one of his encyclicals, that would pull me out of my deep hole! I would come out of the funk, at least a little, enough to say, "Yes, this is reality. God is here. He loves me. I can trust him."

Anyone who thinks that Benedict XVI was some kind of dark, somber pope has obviously either never listened to him or has never been in the dark.

Resign!? No way, that's crazy, that can't possibly happen, that's just....

But I kept seeing the tweets. There were lots of them. Do you remember seeing this for the first time? This was not a joke.

It was only February 11, 2013.

Resign. He was letting go, not out of fear but with trust in the mighty power of God's mercy. Benedict was moving forward, with confidence that the Church is always in the hands of the Lord.

This blog has covered the events that followed. We experienced the first digital interactive multimedia conclave. We watched and prayed with the cardinals right up until the doors closed in the Sistine chapel. And then we stared at the live stream videos of the smoke stack, and then after that we waited forever at the window of St. Peter's until Franciscum Georgium Marium somethinorother was announced and millions of people went:


And we had our first, unforgettable look at this man. We thought we had finally reached the end of an extraordinary ecclesial event.

It was only the middle of March, 2013.

We had no idea what was still to come.

I'm not talking about the media attention, the "controversies," or even the controversies-about-whether-or-not-there-should-be-controversies. I'm talking about the challenge that this man's witness has introduced into our lives (I should say, first of all, into my life). It's a challenge that comes from the distinctive "accent" that he brings to his way of living the gospel and looking at human beings. It has been impossible to ignore.

The Lord has been using him to provoke us and to change us. Sometimes we wrestle, in different ways, but none of us can really deny that we are wrestling with the vocation to grow more profoundly in our confidence that Jesus is living in His Church and guiding her in the Holy Spirit.

What awaits us in 2014? What awaits me, our family, our home, our community? Each day it will unfold, along with the promise of Jesus, the promise that sustains us, the promise that we must always remember: "I am with you always...."