Unless you’ve been under a rock since yesterday, you know that a woman “vaulted over the barrier” and Pope Benedict XVI landed momentarily on the floor. He was up a few seconds later and the rest of Mass proceeded without incident.
By the quirkiness of my mind, I thought of his interview as then Cardinal Ratzinger with Raymond Arroyo. Perhaps my leapfrog of thought was that a Swiss Guard tackled the young woman, protecting the pope, but even better than the highly trained Swiss Guards, the safest place is to be in God’s will and that led me to Pope Benedict XVI’s interview and his telling Arroyo of wanting to be home writing books. Twice, Cardinal Ratzinger had wanted to resign, but felt that since Pope John Paul II was perservering, so should he and apparently where God wanted him to be. After John Paul II’s death, then Cardinal Ratzinger again intended to go home and write books, that is, after the funeral and conclave. For a third time, then Cardinal Ratzinger put aside what he wanted to do and instead, obeyed. The good of his papacy is the fruit of that obedience.
One example is the Pope Benedict XVI’s homily, reported by Whispers in the Loggia.
The first thing we are told about the shepherds is that they were on the watch they could hear the message precisely because they were awake. We must be awake, so that we can hear the message. We must become truly vigilant people.
Be awake! That’s a recurrent theme for homilies and particularly apt for Midnight Mass. Only Pope Benedict XVI the musician, though, would say the opposite of being “awake” is being “religiously tone deaf.” You can read the “tone deaf” section through the link, but I want to note the section immediately preceding it:
What does this mean? The principal difference between someone dreaming and someone awake is that the dreamer is in a world of his own. His “self” is locked into this dreamworld that is his alone and does not connect him with others.
To wake up means to leave that private world of one’s own and to enter the common reality, the truth that alone can unite all people. Conflict and lack of reconciliation in the world stem from the fact that we are locked into our own interests and opinions, into our own little private world. Selfishness, both individual and collective, makes us prisoners of our interests and our desires that stand against the truth and separate us from one another.
Awake, the Gospel tells us. Step outside, so as to enter the great communal truth, the communion of the one God.
Pope Benedict then goes on to describe how “the shepherds said one to another: “‘Let us go over to Bethlehem’” Then there is a beautiful section summarized as God is the highest priority and that God comes to us as a child: When we see him, the God who became a child, our hearts are opened. He ends with “transform me, renew me, change me.” Notice that it’s not “change the other guy over there” but change *me.* As the pope said,
Lord Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem, come to us! Enter within me, within my soul. Transform me. Renew me. Change me, change us all from stone and wood into living people, in whom your love is made present and the world is transformed. Amen.