Friday, March 13, 2009

Benedict's Defence

At the Mass of His installation as Pope, Benedict XVI promised that he would not run away from the wolves which attack Christ's sheep. Now, with his letter to the bishops, chiding them for detraction and calling them to conversion, he is directly taking on the wolves. Not that all of the bishops are wolves, but most of them are more like sheep than shepherds! They cow before every heretical and immoral lobby or propaganda of the worldly powers. Thank God that our chief shepherd is not tainted with the sheepish spirit. We can affectionately say "Thank Christ for our German Shepherd. "

"[His brother] hated [Joseph] so much that they would not even greet him." (Gen. 37, the first reading the Mass of Friday of the Second week of Lent) The one loved most by Israel, his father, is most hated and rejected by his brothers. Here we have an echo of what the Holy Father has experienced in his reconciling the Lefebvrists. "At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them--in this case the Pope--he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint." (10 March 2009 Address to all Bishops). The Holy Father's fatherly love and mercy for the outsiders cannot be tolerated by those who are the first to criticize and question the authority of Papal excommunications. Now they reject even Papal lifting of excommunications. Some people will never be pleased!

These days of Lent the first readings of the daily Mass emphasis great old testament confessors of the faith who exposed and even gave their lives for love of God and His people, victim souls that fearlessly offered themselves to God in sincerity and truth, and God saves His people through them. They are the ones who over the ages exemplified true human freedom, that true human freedom is not freedom from authority and license to do whatever you want but rather the capacity to master self and to be for God. Christ, therefore, is the icon of human freedom. Christ on the cross is the icon of human freedom of which the old testament witnesses (marturia) were a reflection.

--Esther exposes her life and reputation and thereby saves the Jews of Persia from genocide.
--Jeremiah the prophet is condemned and martyred by his own Jewish people for exposing the sins of the Jews and condemning those sins.
--Joseph is rejected and condemned by his brothers and is thereby enabled to save the whole world from famine, including his own people.

We could add the countless Christian witnesses to Christ's saving mission and to them the present Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI is valiantly reconciling the divisions in the Church in order to reconcile the divisions in humanity, to thereby reconcile man with God. As he said "[I]f the arduous task of working for faith, hope and love in the world is presently (and, in various ways, always) the Church's real priority, then part of this is also made up of acts of reconciliation, small and not so small. That the quiet gesture of extending a hand gave rise to a huge uproar, and thus became exactly the opposite of a gesture of reconciliation, is a fact which we must accept. But I ask now: Was it, and is it, truly wrong in this case to meet halfway the brother who 'has something against you' (cf. Mt 5:23ff.) and to seek reconciliation? Should not civil society also try to forestall forms of extremism and to incorporate their eventual adherents--to the extent possible--in the great currents shaping social life, and thus avoid their being segregated, with all its consequences? Can it be completely mistaken to work to break down obstinacy and narrowness, and to make space for what is positive and retrievable for the whole?...Can we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical fringe, from our pursuit of reconciliation and unity? What would then become of them?" For this 'arduous' undertaking the Holy Father himself is unjustly treated as if he were an enemy of unity.

Pope Benedict is hereby joining himself to the great company of witnesses who make present Christ on the Cross. They give themselves for God to humanity (which is not worthy of them) so that every man may live--be saved--by the hand of God and His faithful witnesses in Christ.

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