Pilate’s “Behold the man” comment has recurred to me often since Benedict XVI announced his resignation 24 hours ago. Like noses, everyone has an opinion. And, like Jesus during His last day on earth, I wonder if our Holy Father feels surrounded by people who are eager to express their opinion but reluctant to listen. The reason we call the Pope “Father” is because he is the head of a large and sometimes raucous family. So the loud and sometimes raucous reception of this surprising news is, I’m sure, not surprising to Benedict. Like the Lord, some of Benedict’s children are rejoicing, some are mocking, some are sad, some are perplexed, most are going about their daily routines totally unaware that they are missing the moment of their visitation of grace.
What then? How are we who love Jesus present in the Catholic Church to respond at this historic moment?
1. The never-fail way in which to never miss the moment of our visitation is to look to Blessed Mother. Do what she did. What she does. Stand, just stand, at the Cross that our Holy Father is being hoisted up upon now. Stand and pray and watch.
2. At least other Popes had the advantage of being dead before their remains began to be picked over. Benedict does not. So, when we hear others malign his motives, his teachings, his actions, speak up. In maligning him, they are maligning not only our Father but our Church.
3. Use this Lent to good advantage. There are special graces available for all of us during the holy season. Don’t waste them. When we want to get in shape, we hire a personal trainer. When our Church, our family and our salvation is at stake, we ignore it. This Lent, step up. Behold the Man and stand beside him.