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Pope Francis greets a baby as he rides around St. Peter's Square at the Vatican before his weekly general audience March 8, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

A Reflection for Monday of the Third Week of Lent

Find today’s readings here.

Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth:
“Amen, I say to you,
no prophet is accepted in his own native place.” (Lk 4:24)

Today’s reading happens to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the election of Pope Francis.

Having spent the last week reporting and writing two pieces related to this historic milestone—one collecting the thoughts of L.G.B.T. Catholics about the pope’s outreach and the other, an interview with Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich—Pope Francis has been at the front of my mind.

So when I read Jesus’ words in Luke’s Gospel, “no prophet is accepted in his own native place,” I thought immediately of the pope—and those who have refused to accept his message.

Like any good prophet, Francis challenges our consciences regardless of our ideology or political beliefs. And as a result, his message is sometimes not accepted in many places, including various segments of the church.

If we find ourselves challenged by Francis, we should pause, and rejoice.

In the United States, the pope has offered sharp critiques of unfettered capitalism and champions care for the environment, leading to angst from some Catholics, especially in the United States, who gravitate toward free-market views. At the same time, the pope has been unwavering in his support for human life, which for him includes an opposition to abortion. His strong words have, at times, irked Catholics who believe in abortion rights.

There are many examples of Francis mining the depths of Catholicism in order to take a prophetic stand on behalf of those who have been left behind. That his message is sometimes rejected or scorned is not a sign that he has failed to communicate. It’s a sign that he’s succeeding. If we find ourselves challenged by Francis, we should pause, and rejoice. It means that we are capable of being challenged by a prophet, that our consciences can be awakened when the ways of the world are put in the proper context.

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