Benedict, John Paul II and Freedom

Pope Emeritus Benedict wrote a brief reflection on the hundredth anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s birth, which is well worth a read, as a reflection of a friend, upon a beloved friend. In the light of today’s saint Bede, we may ponder Benedict’s thoughts on what history will ultimately think of the Polish Pope – and, we may add, of the German one – but what matters most is what God thinks of him, and of all of us. As Saint Francis once purportedly quipped, ‘what a man is in the sight of God, that he is, and nothing more...’

If there is one thing Pope John Paul was insistent upon, having grown up under the uber-repressive regimes of Nazism and its close, and more evil, cousin Communism, it is freedom, a nebulous concept to some. As we witness militarized police officers enforcing your ‘safety’ with guns and truncheons, we might reflect upon the irony. For the only real ‘safety’ is death itself, life being one long dance with some sort of risk – as the motto of the S.A.S. has it, ‘he who dares wins’, but in a more theological hue, Pope John Paul’s own words from the balcony after being chosen as Pope, ‘Be not afraid!’

Our fearful world, ‘sheltering in place’ could learn more than a little from the great Pope from the East, who knew how to dare, and to win what really counts.

And for a humorous account of the ever-more irritating mantra to ‘stay safe’, these words might help you see how those readers stuck in domestic drudgery with active children might find adventure of sort.