Sunday, April 03, 2005

Be Not Afraid

I can't say anything that would really express anything new about the Pope's crossing of the threshold of hope yesterday. I was living in Europe when he became Pope. I was not a Catholic. His first public words as Pope were "Be not afraid." A couple of years later I was in Anchorage, Alaska when he visited there. I got to see him and that was my first mass ever. I was still not a Catholic. I became a Catholic in 1990, about 10 years later. Almost 10 years after that, my husband played the CD of Pope John Paul II's Latin Rosary for several days in a row, continuously. That was when my sixth child was in dire straits right after his liver transplant.

The following is from "Crossing the Threshold of Hope":

The words Christ uttered are repeated by the Church. And with the Church, they are repeated by the Pope. I have done so since the first homily I gave in St. Peter's Square: "Be not afraid!" These are not words said into a void. They are profoundly rooted in the Gospel. They are simply the words of Christ Himself.

Of what should we not be afraid? We should not fear the truth about ourselves. One day Peter became aware of this and with particular energy he said to Jesus: "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man" (Lk 5:8).

Peter was not the only one who was aware of this truth. Every man has learned it. Every successor to Peter has learned it. I learned it very well. Every one of us is indebted to Peter for what he said on that day: "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." Christ answered him: "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men" (Lk 5:10). Do not be afraid of men! Man is always the same. The systems he creates are always imperfect, and the more imperfect they are, the more he is sure of himself. Where does this originate? It comes from the human heart. Our hearts are anxious. Christ knows our anguish best of all: "Christ knows that which is in every man" (cf. Jn 2:25).

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