Blessed John Paul II by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2011/05/12 at 8:40 AM

• As you may already know, the Vatican recently announced that the Venerable Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, is now “Blessed John Paul II.” His beatification on May 1st was the speediest in history, edging out Mother Teresa’s by one day.

• This means he will be just one step away from becoming “St. John Paul II.”

• Personally, I was thrilled to receive this news. John Paul was elected to the Chair of Peter when I was 8 years old, and although I wasn’t a Catholic as a child, he has always seemed like a lifelong friend.

• For many Catholics of my generation, Pope John Paul II is the reason why we love and embrace our Catholic faith with such fervor, particularly we Catholics of the John Paul era who have become priests.

• Pope John Paul II was the voice of reason, clarity, compassion, and enthusiasm for those of us trained in a post‐conciliar Church that has often been marked and marred by theological confusion, liturgical inanity, and scandal.

• I consider it a great blessing that I was among the last class of priests ordained in his pontificate, for he died during my first year of priesthood.

• Indeed, the title Blessed Pope John Paul II is appropriate, for he was certainly a great blessing to our Church and to our world, and now he is blessed with the beatific vision.

•In the Beatitudes from Jesus used the word beatitude which means “blessed.”  The Sermon on the Mount from St. Matthew’s Gospel is a roadmap for all who wish to be blessed in the afterlife, for all who wish to enjoy the Beatific Vision. For the Beatitudes encourage us to be like God, and it is in being like Him that we become one with Him.

• They encourage us to be humble and lowly. We are reminded by St. Paul that God chooses the foolish, the weak, and the lowly to accomplish His will so that no one might boast before God.

• In doing so St. Paul challenges us to consider the type of person we want to be, and the type of person our American society often encourages us to be. As Americans today we are the wealthiest, most powerful, and best‐educated society the world has ever known.

• Since our founding nearly 235 ago, we have risen from a wayward and revolutionary band of 13 cantankerous colonies situated on the eastern edge of an unknown continent to a superpower spanning the breadth of this great continent and possessing more money, more education, and more power than any other country in existence.

• And while we are certainly not without our weaknesses and flaws, and while we are certainly not completely invulnerable – as 9/11 proved so dramatically – we are still the undisputed power in the world today – at least for the moment.

• And we’ve risen to this apex through a tough‐nosed, independent, can‐do attitude that embodies what it means to be an American today.

• Popularly‐speaking, to be an American is to be strong, to be independent, to be determined, to be a people who can truly accomplish anything that we set our minds to.

• Our culture very naturally imbues this national mindset within each and every one of us. We are a competitive people, and we seek to get ahead. We are encouraged to work hard, to go to the best schools, to get the best job and make the most money.

• This of course has led to a deep sense of societal pride. And while trying to do our best in life is not wrong, there is always a danger in the pride engendered by our mindset.

• Furthermore, as Catholics we must remember that this sense of pride, this sense of accomplishment, this sense of independence that imbues our American culture and psyche is not authentically Christian.

• The truth is that despite our national or personal accomplishments, we are nothing without Christ. The truth is that we are sinners in need of a savior.

• The truth is that God is constantly extending His love and mercy toward us, but we often and quite stubbornly turn away from him through our sinfulness. The truth is that, left to our own devices, we cannot save ourselves.

• But if we humble and lowly, my friends, we can see the truth of things. Humility helps us to see the dangers of our societal mindset as well as our personal shortcomings.

• Humility helps us to put our relationship with God into its proper context, making us recognize our utter and total reliance upon Him for everything.

• But more than that, humility opens up our hearts to the saving grace of Christ Jesus. It makes us thankful for all of our many blessings, and it makes us aware of how truly merciful and loving our Lord is, and why we should constantly seek virtue and holiness.

• The Gospel speaks of the Beatitudes, which are really invitations to a life of virtue.

• Virtue is moral excellence and righteousness; it is goodness. It is the habitual, wellestablished, readiness or disposition of man’s powers directing them to some goodness or act. Virtue, in whatever form it takes, directly opposes sin.

• At first blush it may seem that the Beatitudes are an invitation to the virtue of humility, and indeed they are. But on a deeper level, the Beatitudes also invite us to practice the theological virtue of hope!

• Saints have referred to humility as the root of all virtue because without humility, none of the other virtues can flourish, and one the greatest and most important virtues that humility engenders is hope!

• What we must understand about humility is that humility is not a matter of thinking less of ourselves. Humility is a matter of thinking less about ourselves.

• Humility enables us to see the truth about ourselves. It helps us to turn away from the selfishness that pride always engenders within us.

• But whereas humility turns our consciousness outward so that we no longer think of ourselves, the virtue of hope helps us to direct our consciousness solely toward God, Who is both our Creator and our final end.

• Through humility we recognize that we are beggars before God. And as beggars we come before Him with empty hands. Through hope we know that if we come to God with empty hands, He will fill us with His salvation.

• Humility gives us the detachment we need to be empty‐handed before God. Hope gives us the confidence that our Lord will raise us up in our lowliness to be like Him.

• As we face our world with all of its sufferings and challenges, we must do it with hope, knowing that all that happens – whether good or evil – is within God’s loving providence, and that ultimately, Jesus Christ will prevail.

• Having the humility to realize this, having the humility to live a life of Beatitude that engenders hope for heaven, will ensure final blessedness for us.

• May our gracious Savior fill us all with the virtues of humility and hope, and may Blessed John Paul II always pray for us!

Copyright 2011 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC


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