We know well how Pope Francis doesn’t put barriers between himself and the faithful. He approaches, shakes hands, drinks «mate» from the straw that they offer him, caresses.

I have personally seen him many times on trips staggering pushed by many hands, on his right and left, who seek to touch him but in reality are pushing him.

Once in Mexico in 2016, the same thing happened as happened in St Peter’s Square on New Year’s Eve: a person yanked him so that he was going to collapse on a disabled child in a wheelchair. Also then Francis reacted admonishing the person and saying to them: «don’t be selfish!».

Even this time the lady grabbed the Pope’s hand yanking it to have for herself, and without letting go even when she saw him losing his balance. They are attitudes that do not have the quality of affection and that seem to have the value of an almost «magic» gesture.

The Pope really rejects this approach to his person.

But here he just lost his patience, also for the very human perception of being dragged on the ground. If this reveals the humanity of a person like Francis, who is exposed and reacts like any of us would have done, in reality what strikes me is something else. The Pope apologized.

He realized that he had not given a good example of patience. The pastor must accept: scold, but be patient too. And then he stated before the great number of faithful and pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square for the usual Angelus prayer some words that affected me. Without drawing too much attention to his gesture of apology, in a discrete manner, he said that salvation «is not magic», but it is on the other hand «patient».

And he continued: «The patience of love: loving makes us patient. Many times we lose patience; even me, and I apologize for the bad example yesterday».

The Pope who reacts by getting angry and who apologizes to everyone for not having given a good example helps me to understand what Christian life is made up of every day.

And these are its big little challenges.

Director of La Civiltà Cattolica @CivCatt, Consultor at Pontifical @VaticanCultura, Board of Directors @Georgetown University. Jesuit.

Director of La Civiltà Cattolica @CivCatt, Consultor at Pontifical @VaticanCultura, Board of Directors @Georgetown University. Jesuit.