– Hello. I’m Bishop Brian and I’m speaking to you in early October, right around the time that the church celebrates Saint Francis. In the Episcopal church, we take great joy in celebrating Saint Francis by blessing of the animals. This past Friday, October second, I was at Episcopal School of Knoxville and blessed animals early in the morning in a car line with other clergy from our Diocese. And on Sunday, at Saint Francis in Ooltewah, Tennessee, took place, took part in a blessing of the animals car line there on the property at Saint Francis. So, it’s always a joy to remember Francis’s call to care for all of creation and delight in the animals, and to understand God’s light and love is in them, as well.
But it’s also important to think in this time to remind us of the more radical nature of Francis’s vision. And a care for all of creation, all of humanity, for the poor, for the stranger, for his journey to encounter Islam, and to be open to what God’s love does in calling us to be friends with each other.
I want to acknowledge Pope Francis this past week, released an encyclical, the highest level of pastoral letter that the Pope can release. This is his third encyclical while he’s been Pope. Fratelli Tutti. Looking at the whole idea of friendship and social friendship and fraternity.
And, recently, I’ve learned a word called doomscrolling, the ways in which we can get on social media and watch the news, and scroll down the news, and it’s bad, it’s bad, it’s bad, it’s bad. And by the time you’re done scrolling, you’ve found yourself in a place of despair, a place of real fear, a place of sense of doom. And in a time when we are encountering that, my encouragement would be to say to you that if you spend some time with Pope Francis’s letter, realizing it’s an 87-page letter, that it might involve some hopescrolling for you.
He very much grounds his idea of Francis’s vision in the Good Samaritan. That person that we see in the ditch is our brother and our sister. That person that we see in the ditch is our responsibility. And that the call to friendship, the call to fraternity, the call to the common good, is a call that should influence our institutions, our politics, our sense of family, expanding our sense of family to all in need.
So, in a time where we need desperately in this country to renew a sense of the common good, I would invite you, I would encourage you, to spend some time with Pope Francis’s encyclical. Frateli Tutti. Get an 87-page document, so one that you might digest over time. At the end of this video, we will have a link to that document. And to know that we live in a time where we need to find the words to inspire us to action, and to a different sense of being together.
I’ve also recently completed reading a biography on Churchill. Winston Churchill and, in the most uncertain days, at the beginning of the first World War, really all he had was words to give words to give vision for folks, to inspire them in the midst of news that was really bad. It was really uncertain. It was words that inspired them to action.
So, my hope is that the words of Pope Francis, the words in the New Testament, the words of the Good Samaritan, and the words we offer to each other, words of prayer, words of comfort, words in crying out for justice, that those words will inspire us to redeem, renew, and be apart of healing in our church, in our country, in our world. “Fratelli Tutti: A Sense of Fraternity and Social Friendship.” That is our call. And we need to be reminded of that call. It’s not a new call. We’re going backwards to understand. To go forwards is to renew that sense of brotherhood and sisterhood.
Friendship for all.