One of the guiding principles of Ignatian spirituality is freedom. In his classic manual for prayer, the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius Loyola asks us to free ourselves of “disordered attachments,” that is, anything that could keep us from responding to God’s will in our lives.
Pope Francis is probably one of the best examples of that kind of Ignatian freedom. He is a free man, as many of us can see. After his election as pope, he did not need to live in the grand Apostolic Palace, but preferred to move into a more modest hostel. He did away with the traditional red shoes of the pope. He feels free to spontaneously embrace people during his visits overseas, as he has done here in the United States. He is free.
Today’s Gospel reminds us to remove anything that could prevent us from responding to God’s word. Jesus speaks with typical hyperbole, saying “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.”
He’s not saying we should go around eyeless, but rather free.
As we bid farewell to the Pope today, let us pray for the courage to be freely who God dreams us to be.
—Fr. James Martin, SJ, is the author of our special series of reflections in honor of Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. Fr. Martin is associate editor of America magazine; a frequent commentator in the media; and author of many books, including, most recently, Jesus: A Pilgrimage and his novel The Abbey.