Saturday, February 23, 2013
Stole Heaven like Good Thief!
In the flood of post scripts to Pope Benedict’s abdication of throne many were busy searching for reasons in the avalanche of missteps or right steps, allegations or accolades staked up for or against him in religious and secular domains.
Critics of course are welcome to rant and rave over his failures -- offending Muslim brothers with a speech, Jewish household for rehabilitating a holocaust denier; liberals in church for opposing condom, gay marriages, euthanasia, women’s ordination, protecting Fr Marcial Maciel of Legionaries of Christ as well as a host of child molesters and womanisers around the glob; and arch conservatives for admitting Anglican priests and for not doing enough to curb “anarchy” let lose by Vatican Council. For the last group the only silver lining of his papacy is his resigning.
But to me the rule of the thumb to follow here is: “Say nothing but good about the dead”, (“De mortibus nihil nisi bonum,” though someone not too familiar with Latin rendered it as: After death only bones remain.) His resignation is as good as death or sudden disappearance from public domain. So his exit may best compared to the Good Thief who stole heaven with his last glowing deed on his cross and is therefore remembered for all posterity. Like the good thief on his cross Benedict immortalised himself by making himself worthless in his own eyes only to draw all eyes upon himself inadvertently. Or was Benedict taking dead seriously Jesus’ rebuke to Peter: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but things of men” (Mt.6.23) and applying it to himself to get lost? He only can answer that. I can’t.
Paradox of Dying to Live
One who takes the last seat will be brought to the First in God’s Durbar. Unless you become like a little child you shall not enter the kingdom of God. Eternal glory like the shadow runs after only those who shy away and flee from lime light. Didn’t Jesus empty himself to become the least and last, to the point of washing the feet of a would-be denier Peter, an adamantly persisting and questioning doubter Thomas, a betrayer friend and purse keeper Judas? So He was raised up to the third heavens from His sealed tomb because Truth is mighty and will explode to prevail. It is in giving up all that we receive and gain all. This is the paradoxical truth Jesus teaches and his gospels teach – hard to digest, but per force we all must absorb.
God, it is said, draws good out of evil and writes straight with crooked lines that all of us are. Who then is the script writer of this melodrama? This divine comedy unseen and unheard of in living memory? Nay in the last 600 years whoever in religious or secular domains has ever fallen a victim to a self-inflicted, self-effacing martyr’s sword to die (fade out from public gaze) without dying, only to joyfully endure unending pangs of a living martyrdom? This is the paradox Jesus taught and lived: It is in giving and giving up that we receive, it is in dying to selfishness that we are born to eternal life.
Pray for Right Successor
Will the next Pope be as self-effacing or more self-effacing, not too young or not too old as the present one to help focus all eyes on JESUS who occupied no high throne nor clung to any imperial man-made title, power, position, possession, glitter and glory of externals but lived as one among a community of brothers, sisters, friends and well wishers, all equals irrespective of their class, caste, creed or gender, but still drew all eyes on Himself?
Or will he be the last after Benedict, “Peter the Roman, who will nourish the sheep in many tribulations.....(till) the city of seven hills will be destroyed” to mark the end of the world as predicted by Irish Prophet and Saint Malachy, the 12th century bishop of Armagh (see details in Whikipedia) who thrilled and dismayed readers for centuries as reported now in reputed papers? All we want is one like Jesus in word and deed. His only trade mark was: “No one could accuse him of sin”. He was known for Probity in public life and in Private life.
Lead Thou, Kindly Light! Shed thy spirit of self-emptying and selfless service on all of us, especially on the one who is to be the first among equals to lead us and guide us in the Way that is You and You alone, because You are Truth incarnate, You are Love incarnate, You are Goodness incarnate and you taught us: “To those who love good (God) everything turns out for their own good.” May your Goodness shine through us for the Good of all humanity, shall we pray?
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