Monday, March 29, 2010

The Passion of Benedict XVI

This week past, it was evident that yet another wave and renewed attempt to drag the Holy Father into the mire that is sexual abuse scandal was beginning to mount, and accordingly I had thought about writing a reflection on this in the light of Holy Week. In the end, I determined that likely more than enough commentary could be found on any number of sites and perhaps there was something to be said for some calm and "business as usual" as a form of respite.

While I still generally subscribe to this thought and do not intend to dwell on this subject beyond this brief reflection, yesterday, as we showed some images from the Papal Mass of Palm Sunday, the matter arose in the comments in the light of some public protests which followed from the frenzy which many in the media seem only too intent on stirring up; the dismay was tangible. Accordingly, I thought I perhaps should present my brief meditation as I originally intended after all.

Evidently, the scandals themselves are matters which need to be dealt with; they are indeed filth in need of cleansing -- and this should be clearly stated and understood.

As for our Holy Father, when all this began in his regard, my mind turned a particular passage of Sacred Scripture; namely, Zechariah 13:7. In that passage we read:

Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me," says the LORD of hosts. "Strike the shepherd, that the sheep may be scattered.."

While this prophetically refers to the events surrounding the life and person of Our Lord Jesus Christ, I believe we might find an analogous application in relation to the Vicar of Christ in this present situation -- one that perhaps gives us a broader spiritual context in which to understand and make sense of these goings on; one which emphasizes the fact of the real spiritual warfare which we face. In that light, and in the light of these events in the life of Christ Himself, perhaps seeing His Vicar so similarly struck should come as little surprise.

Further, in the Mass of Palm Sunday, we read the Passion narrative and in the coming week we will again recount this, and be brought into a further meditation on the events of the Passion and Death of Our Lord.

We hear of how one of Christ's own apostles betrayed Him and how others, through their fear, temporarily fell by the wayside. This brings to mind how, even in Christ's own time and within the body of His own apostles, the frailties and sinfulness of a fallen humanity have been present and have been a source of pain and affliction. This reality is good to recollect as we struggle to understand how such scandals can so painfully inflict Christ's Church in our own time.

We will also hear recounted how Christ was persecuted; how he was insulted, abused, mocked and suffered great trials.

Let us here recall how, in the history of the Church, it has often been found to be the case that the disciples must follow in the footsteps of their Divine Master -- and such is never found to be in vain or without some greater purpose. Is not Pope Benedict himself presently bearing the cross of similar abuses and attacks?

Finally, let us recall that Benedict XVI himself has not been naive to these realities. Let us bring to mind these words which he spoke during the homily of the Mass of his papal inauguration, April 24th, 2005:

One of the basic characteristics of a shepherd must be to love the people entrusted to him, even as he loves Christ whom he serves. “Feed my sheep”, says Christ to Peter, and now, at this moment, he says it to me as well. Feeding means loving, and loving also means being ready to suffer. Loving means giving the sheep what is truly good, the nourishment of God’s truth, of God’s word, the nourishment of his presence, which he gives us in the Blessed Sacrament. My dear friends – at this moment I can only say: pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more. Pray for me, that I may learn to love his flock more and more – in other words, you, the holy Church, each one of you and all of you together. Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Let us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to carry one another.

Let us then carry the Holy Father by our prayers now as he bears this cross; as he bears with the abuses and buffets which Christ Himself bore to an even greater degree. Let us pray for him, support him and publicly defend him, as he, our earthly shepherd, is indeed struck by the sword and surrounded by wolves. Let us not be scattered but instead rouse ourselves, taking heart and taking courage, remembering that the ploys and attacks of Satan are ultimately in vain for ultimately, in Christ, the battle is already won and He reigns victorious.

Long Life to Pope Benedict XVI


More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: