A Real Presence – Pope Francis’s TED Talk


One of my childhood neighbors died this week. Faye was only 47 years old. She had been battling a brain tumor for the past three years.

I don’t like these things. 

  • Why does one person get cancer and another doesn’t?
  • Why is one person born into wealth and another into poverty?
  • Why does a car accident destroy one life but another person walks away?

I wish bad things didn’t happen to anybody.

I listened yesterday to Pope Francis’s TED Talk (yes, Pope Francis did a TED talk!). He addresses the “why them and not me” question.

“As I meet, or lend an ear to those who are sick, to the migrants who face terrible hardships in search of a brighter future, to prison inmates who carry a hell of pain inside their hearts, and to those, many of them young, who cannot find a job, I often find myself wondering: ‘Why them and not me?’ 

I, myself, was born in a family of migrants; my father, my grandparents, like many other Italians, left for Argentina and met the fate of those who are left with nothing. I could have very well ended up among today’s “discarded” people. 

And that’s why I always ask myself, deep in my heart: “Why them and not me?”

He says these questions remind us that we all need other people. No one goes alone. Everything is connected.

Each person matters.

“Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face. The ‘you’ is always a real presence, a person to take care of.”

Despite sickness and heartaches and disasters, our presence in each other’s lives gives us reason to hope and move forward.

Faye was a real presence. Her light will be missed, especially by her son and her parents and her sister and her nieces.

But Faye will never be forgotten.

“Each and every one of us is irreplaceable in the eyes of God. Through the darkness of today’s conflicts, each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around.”

Watch Pope Francis’s TED talk here. Or read the transcript.


* * *

Last week I told you about Joe. Yesterday I was shocked to hear that Joe had been taken to the hospital, fighting for his life. Please pray.

Please share your thoughts here.

18 thoughts on “A Real Presence – Pope Francis’s TED Talk

  1. Meghan E. Weyerbacher

    Lisa, this is neat. I am still learning about what a TED talk is! I will have to click over to read who Joe is too. I hope you are doing well and I am so sorry for your loss. I just read another blog which emphasized our mourning is different than those who have no hope and it was encouraging. God bless you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re about to embark on some wonderful adventures if you’re new to TED talks! I love them. (Granted, it depends on the topic.) There are so many interesting topics to explore. I listen to the podcast, “TEDTalks (Audio)” and it’s also very good. As well as NPR’s “TED Radio Hour” – that one’s really the best.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for your prayers, Susan. The family has been walking alongside Faye so closely for 3 years as she has suffered. The wonderful thing is she is no longer in pain and they will see her again someday in all her fullness.

  2. Trudy

    I’m so sorry for yet another loss in your life, Lisa. And now Joe fighting for his life as well. 🙁 I’m with you in wishing bad things didn’t happen to anybody. I love Pope Francis’ thoughts here and in the transcript. A revolution of tenderness is so what we all need, isn’t it? Love and hugs to you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re always comforting, Trudy. I appreciate your visits very much. I am glad they talked Pope Francis into doing a TED talk; I’m sure it’s not in the pope’s normal repertoire of responsibilities, but I love what he had to share.

  3. Jean Wise

    I love TED talks and had no ideas the Pope gave one. wow. You write so lovely to honor Faye with your compassionate thoughts. I often heard it said and I have said, I can’t wait to ask certain questions when I get to heaven and this is one of them. But then again, maybe by that time I’ll be so in love with God – all questions will fade away….

  4. floyd

    I’m sorry for your loss, Lisa.

    This is something I’ve pondered often in life. To those of us who believe, like my dad did, death is the beginning. None of us will reach perfection and be allowed to enter into the presence of God Himself in this fallen flesh.

    May we pray for the lost to know what we do…

    Praying for Faye’s family and for Joe.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for your prayers, Floyd. Even though Faye’s family is very sad, they all have hope that they’ll see her again. I’m so grateful for that hope, and I join you in praying for those who don’t know what we do.

  5. Michele Morin

    I saw this post at the bottom of your book review, so I had to read it to find out more! I’ll definitely be checking out that TED talk.
    Lisa, you do so much to keep me informed of things I didn’t know!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I just happened to hear a couple days ago about the Pope’s TED talk and was so glad I did. It fit so well with thoughts I’d been having about Faye’s precious life.

  6. Mari-Anna Stålnacke

    Great post, Lisa. It reminded me of this C.S. Lewis quote from The Problem of Pain “The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not.”

    I can’t wait to check out the TED talk. Kind of cool. Thanks so much, Lisa. God bless you.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Love that quote, Mari-Anna. It’s been awhile since I’ve read that book but I remember it being so relevant! Yes, instead of “Why me?”, we can ask, “Why not me?”

  7. Debbie

    I’m so sorry about Faye and lifting her family up in prayer. I had to google TED talk. I didn’t know what it was. I will also pray for Joe. I’m so sorry he lost his neighbors. It sounds like he loves and cares for everyone. God bless him.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Debbie, for your prayers for Faye’s family and for Joe. I do believe that God hears every prayer and answers, so I count them as precious. I haven’t heard an update on Joe in the past two days but I hope he’s still hanging in there. I don’t want to lose him or any of his neighbors to have to lose him. 🙁

  8. Debbie Kitterman

    Lisa –

    I am so very sorry to hear about Faye and her end of her battle – I can relate to where you are at since we just loves someone we care for very much too. And then poor Joe – any news on how he is doing? I’ve heard about TED talks but not ever watched one – thanks for sharing.

    So sorry for the lateness in stopping by I was speaking at a retreat this past weekend and I am just now working on getting to my comments from last weeks #TuneInThursday Thank you so much for linking up each week.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thank you for your concern, Debbie. I hope to get news tomorrow about Joe, hopefully finding him sitting outside his apartment with his dog! Continuing prayers until I do though. I hope that your retreat went well! What an honor to speak into the lives of so many. Bless you.

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