Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Benedict: alone before God
I've been reading Pope Benedict's recent book on the infancy narratives of Jesus. He wrote something about the Annunciation that makes me think of his own life as Pope. It's about the last line of that Gospel, "And the angel departed from her." (Lk 1:38) Benedict says that Mary's great hour, her encounter with the angel that changed her whole life, comes to an end, "and she remains there alone, with the task that truly surpasses all human capacity. There are no angels standing round her."
The Pope reflects that during the many difficult moments of her life, Mary must have recalled that brief encounter with the angel and pondered it anew, especially the words, "Do not be afraid!" "The angel departs; her mission remains, and with it matures her inner closeness to God, a closeness that in her heart she is able to see and touch." (page 37-38).
Right now there are no angels standing around Benedict either (at least visible ones, for surely there are many invisible ones). It must be a lonely task, being Pope, for despite all the crowds, all those who wave flags and cheer, at the end of the day Benedict stands alone before God. He stands alone before that God whom he has served so well. And while many of the faithful may feel lost, confused, or even abandoned by his decision, we need to respect it. We need to let him draw back the curtain on his conscience. In these days when the media is filled with speculation and stories, we need to let him stand alone before his God.