Pope Francis came to Malta to dialogue with all men and women of goodwill, but also to speak as Shepherd to Christians. He gave a powerful political analysis in his first speech in Valletta and engaged in a deeply human encounter with migrants at Hal Far.
Through both experiences—with the powerful and with the downtrodden—he offered a vision of social and international justice through the art of politics and human culture making. He denounced the death of civilization every time we (Europeans) feel threatened by and are indifferent to “the stranger.”
But in his homilies at Floriana and Ta’ Pinu and in his prayer at the Grotto of St Paul’s, he spoke not as an inspiring world leader, but as a missionary disciple of Christ; as shepherd of the Master’s flock.
Pope Francis reminded us that ultimately it is not our noble, human efforts for justice that saves but only God’s Mercy! Where our human efforts fail and our misery is made evident, the Christian still hopes and always trusts that God heals all wounds and reconciles all brokenness.
The Pope celebrated the “luminous light of the Maltese Islands” … that Light we received through the Apostle whose proclamation transformed our very human “unusual kindness” into the power of being—not merely a civilization that embraces all cultures—but a true church that reconciles all humanity.
In his own humanity, in his intensity of presence, we see in Pope Francis a man transformed who truly acts in the power of the Spirit. That is what strikes us every time we see him “touching” the wounds of others. He has received and appropriated Christ’s power to heal and reconcile. He is a sinner who has been made holy. That’s the point of our baptism that makes us “church.”
May we as Church in Malta live up to our name and be Light for the world: that this rock in the Mediterranean that we were entrusted to tend, become a true port of encounter, a bridge of civilizations north-south-east-west, and a beacon of hope that reconciles by witnessing to God’s Shalom. This is our task. This is the grace we pray for after this Apostolic Visit.