Nothing to see here, folks. Just a vulgar woman who was snuck in. The Holy Spirit is definitely not afoot. It was practically an accident, really. Or perhaps it was some dastardly conservative bishop who allowed the cool pope to embrace someone universally despised by the great and good. She’s been married four times. Believe me, if he knew, he’d throw her into the well.

The scribes and the Jesuits are right on a very limited point. Based on the evidence, we cannot know what the pope’s gesture meant in an explicit way. We cannot know what was in his heart. But unlike the scribes and Jesuits, those with a mind habituated to liturgy know that the words and gestures prescribed by the hour and the office carry more meaning than can fit into the head of a single priest. They can express the divine intention even when the priest’s mind runs away to something trivial. Some might see mere routine in the pope’s encouragement, but the eyes of faith see something more: an act of humility, imposed by his lofty office. Even an act of trust and love. The world hates you. I do not.