Millions flock to see Pope Francis
Around one million people turned out for the first papal Mass of Pope Francis’ visit to Latin America yesterday. The city of Guayaquil, Ecuador was the venue and it brought to mind the incredible scenes from World Youth Day 2013 in Rio, when approximately 4 million swamped the Copacobana to join the Holy Father for Mass.
It’s quite an interesting fact that so many turn out to see the Holy Father and to celebrate Mass with him. Here in Scotland, when Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said Mass in Glasgow in 2010, approximately 80,000 turned out; a healthy number when you consider the gradual decline in Mass attendance in Scotland in recent years.
And it’s this point in particular which intrigues me. I often wonder how many people going to see the pope celebrate Mass actually go to Mass in their own parish on a regular basis. It may be that they all do, though I suspect the reality is that a number are simply turning up because it is the pope. And that in itself is understandable to a degree. He is, after all, a very high profile figure, and someone most people would love to see in the flesh.
But is it right that some people pull out all the stops to see the pope and don’t put in the effort to attend their parish for Sunday Mass? I would have thought that it is not. After all, it is Jesus we respond to when we attend Holy Mass, accepting his invitation to join him on Calvary and to share in his Passion and Resurrection.
By all means, we should rejoice when the pope comes to visit; he is a great holy man and an inspiration to all. But at the end of the day it is Jesus who is our reason for attending Holy Mass. It is Jesus who deserves our undivided attention for it is he who suffered and died for us. It is Jesus who took on unimaginable pain for you and me so that we may live. If we can’t do it for Jesus who can we do it for? Pope Francis would agree.