You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets,
with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.
The whole world, it appears, was astonished when Pope Francis stepped out on the balcony of Saint Peter's Basilica and asked the cheering thousands before him for their prayers. And then, to demonstrate the seriousness of his request, he bowed down before the mob as they recited -- in many different languages -- the Lord's Prayer.
Since the Second Vatican Council church authorities have spoken of "servant leadership" but rarely have we seen such a demonstration of that principle. It was all the more amazing, given that he had been known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio only moments before, and that he must have been overwhelmed with the enormous authority given to him.
How would I respond in such a moment? I might say, 'Woo hoo!" or "I knew it all along!" or even, "Dear God, now what do I do?" but Pope Francis of the new name knew that he must bow before the servants of God as their servant -- servus servorum dei.
It was literally "underwhelming" in the sense that his demonstration of humility swept us like a rising ocean wave off our feet, from beneath us. His gesture did not come down upon us but lifted us up and reminded us of who we are, servants of a servant God.
Today we celebrate the Apostles Simon and Jude. Scripture tells us little about these gentlemen but it does remind us we are "no longer strangers and sojourners, but... fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God."
The Catholics and Christians I meet want to feel at home in their own churches. They do not enter as strangers and sojourners, nor even as welcome guests. They want to belong and claim membership.
The Veterans I meet in the hospital often do not feel at home or even welcome upon entering the church. It's changed since they were last there. In some cases I have to wonder if the church they knew back in the 1960's wasn't a hostile place reserved for a select few. (Protestants and feminists need not apply!)
But in more cases, upon initial entry, it seems "the neighborhood changed" and it takes a while to realize it changed very little. The Mass is virtually unchanged despite the vernacular language and the disposition of the altar. It is only more transparent and the mystery more inviting. The words "eat" and "drink" and "do this" actually encourage us to know Jesus as we hardly ever imagined him -- as one who serves.