Sunday, December 7, 2014

God is good to me

This was, is, and always will be, my favorite ikon of Christ.
Thank you, Jesus.
‘God is good to me, He has bestowed on me a healthy dose of unawareness. I just do what I have to do. From the start I said to myself, Jorge, don´t change, just keep on being yourself, because to change at your age would be to make a fool of yourself.’ These words are attributed to Pope Francis of Rome, something he said recently in an interview. Talking to him is as easy as talking to anyone you know well and trust as a friend. I could have said the words quoted above about myself. Yes, God is good to me, too. I wonder sometimes, if He isn’t good to everyone, it’s just that not everyone notices. They’re too busy criticizing and judging others, the world around them near and far, and even God Himself.

Yes, and He—still speaking of God—has also bestowed on me a healthy dose of unawareness. I’m not sure I know exactly what these words mean to the pope, but I know what they mean to me. The Lord has spared me much suffering by not letting me see or know the whole picture of what is going on around me, in others, and even in myself: for the greater the awareness, the greater the pain. He has dealt with me gently, keeping from me what He knows would break me, if I knew. It’s not the He will keep me unaware forever. No, reason itself dawns on us gradually, as does all knowledge of things earthly and divine. But the ‘blinders’ are God’s, and I trust Him to remove them when He wills.

The last part of what Pope Francis said—except I exchange ‘Romanos’ for ‘Jorge’—I could say as well. I’m not seventy-eight years old yet, but I hope I am as healthy and open as he is when I reach that age. I too ‘just do what I have to do,’ without worrying about the outcome, or caring what it looks like or what others think. I don’t change, either, but just keep being myself. The pope says that to change at his age, or even at mine maybe, would be to make a fool of oneself. I don’t believe that he means that it would make a fool of us in the sense of our being ‘fools for Christ,’ because that is, I think, what we are: anyone who intends to follow Christ and gives it an honest try is going to be considered a fool by the world.

No, to make a fool of oneself by changing, that is, by trying to be in your words and actions before the world what you know yourself not to be, is what I believe he is talking about. ‘To thine own self be true,’ is certainly not an unchristian saying, though some Christians think it smacks too much of individualism and the tendency to selfishness. So, the pope has spent his life being himself, whether in private or in public, and look where it has got him. A man does not ‘volunteer’ for the priesthood, he is called. Nor does he make himself a bishop, or a pope, he is likewise called, or elected. True, people sometimes do put themselves forward, promote themselves, but that is not God’s way, nor should it be man’s.

I keep saying to myself, ‘I like this pope!’ I find myself praying for him spontaneously when I pray. No, he’s not my pope. Jurisdictionally I belong to the Patriarchate of Antioch, ecclesiastically I am an Orthodox Christian, but as to my faith, what can I say? Only what the holy apostles themselves say, ‘One Lord, one faith, one baptism…’ and only what that one Lord Himself says, ‘I pray that they may be One, just as You, Father, and I are One.’ I don’t see things as they really are. I see only in part. I know and I understand only in part. Again, this is what the apostle predicts of me, and of all of us. And along comes a pope that confirms this, ‘[God] has bestowed on me a healthy dose of unawareness.’

Glory to that good God and Lord, whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine! Glory to Him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever!
Ephesians 3:20-21 Jerusalem Bible

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