One year ago today, Pope Benedict gave a homily on the occasion of the Beatification of Pope John Paul II. There were three points, Scripture quotes actually, that the Holy Father made that I thought applied to the current situation facing us here in Manayunk in the midst of the current restructuring.
1. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (John 20:29).
2. The beatitude told to the Virgin Mary by Saint Elizabeth: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord” (Luke 1:45).
3. Blessed are you, Simon…” (Matthew 16:17).
After his election, John Paul II referenced his “cause” and his “task.” He was to lead the Church into the new millennium. He was to be instrumental in bringing down the Berlin Wall, the Iron Curtain and Communism. He was to reach out to the youth of the world BY THE MILLIONS through several “World Youth Days.” He was to be a shepherd and pastoral leader by building bridges as he became the most traveled Pope in history. Quite a resume.
And what about Manayunk and – more importantly – what about the PEOPLE of Manayunk? We have a “cause.” This is known. It is the “New Evangelization.” It is to reach out to the 60% or 70% or 80% or 90% of our Catholic sisters and brothers who are not currently part of our worshipping community. Their reasons for not being with us are many. Some are logical. Some are deeply profound. Most are valid. But, to be honest, some are trite, childish or foolish.
And what about the “task.” There are actually many. Each of us needs to determine these tasks for ourselves. Most of us don’t really know our “tasks” yet. The reconfiguration was just recently announced. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (John 20:29).
We want the plan. We want all of the questions answered. We want the answers now! People have asked me, “How do we know that everything is going to work out right?” Um, WHOSE Church is it? “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord” (Luke 1:45).
And they ask, “Father what’s in it for me? I’ve been hurt by this entire process. I’ve been hurt by the Church. I hate what they’re doing to my parish! I hate what they’re doing to our school! Why should I get involved? Why should I trust them?” Because it’s not about “them.” It’s about “Him.” I know it’s Easter and we’re celebrating the Resurrection but it’s also still “cross time.” HIS cross, and yours. And what comes after the crucifixion? Blessed are you, Simon…” (Matthew 16:17).
Benedict spoke about Pope John Paul II who would always say, “Do not be afraid.” “He restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope, to be lived in history in an “Advent” spirit, in a personal and communitarian existence directed to Christ, the fullness of humanity and the fulfillment of all our longings.”
So that’s where we are, here, in Manayunk, right now, in 2012. This is OUR “cause” given to us by God – to provide hope for others. This is OUR time in history chosen for us by God. This is OUR task to point people living in Manayunk and the environs to a relationship through which the fulfillment of all their longings can be achieved.
We might not like it. It might feel awful! And for now, we feel like we’re flying blind. But the blessing will be there for those who believe. That’s why they call it faith.