“Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” -Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est
|Pope Benedict XVI. (CNA file photo)|
Last week I had a terrible dream that my dad was terminally ill. I chalked it up to nothing more than my occasional anxiety about such things and the fact that my siblings and I are no longer children and my parents are therefore no longer young adults.
It wasn’t so much the dream itself – the only thing I really remembered was the knowledge that, “Dad is sick.” The thing that bothered me the most was the fear of what my life would be like when my earthly father does pass away.
I called him just to hear his voice while I looked at a picture on my nightstand of him cradling me in his arms at my baptism. He reassured me that he was fine and that we’ll get together for lunch this week.
It scared me because I realized that I will be shaken to the core when my parents are gone. My family is my rock and foundation that I can return to when the outside world bears down too hard. They are the ones who share in my joys just as much as my sorrows. They are the ones who made me who I am.
Understandably, the thought of losing one’s parents would be saddening to anyone. But what struck me even more deeply after telling God about this was how much I relied on others, even my family, more than Him.
Of course, as children of God, we are the hands and feet of Christ while on earth. This means we are called to love and serve others as representatives of Christ, allowing Him to work through us so that “it is not I who lives, but Christ.” But how often, do we give our praise, admiration and attention to the “hands and feet” rather than to Whom they belong?
So now, with the news of the retirement of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, many Catholics are left with shock and sadness – I know that was my own impression upon hearing the news this morning.
But let us remember that although we love and revere our dear Papa Benedict, he is simply the Vicar of Christ. Any reverence or affection that we have for the Pope is a result of his resemblance to the One he serves.
I think it’s fitting that Pope Benedict is stepping down during this Year of Faith and just as Lent begins. The act of humbly admitting (and drawing attention to) one’s own human frailty speaks volumes not only to Benedict’s God-given virtue, but also to his total and complete reliance on Our Heavenly Father – a beautiful example that all of us should pray to have the grace to follow.
Pope St. Celestine, pray for us!