So many people across our country are putting all their hopes today in a man, a man who has just taken on a very powerful position at the head of the largest free republic on earth. Nevertheless, he is just a man, a human being, and not God. His position merits our respect and we certainly want and need to pray for him as our president, but he is not God. And if he fails or makes a mistake, our world will not end. Our faith is in the One Who will never disappoint, hurt or abandon us.
I was also thinking about BEGINNINGS. Not only do we have a new president but Benedict's Book Club is beginning a new year with a new book, or rather, an Encyclical, a Papal Letter.
Our Pope chose to lead off his papacy with this Encyclical on Love. Love. God is Love . . . Even though he knew that love is an overused, misused, misunderstood word, still he braved the potential risk, the ridicule, and the certain misinterpretations to bring us a basic truth about God which we need to hear: God is Love. PBXVI's was another 'voice crying in the wilderness', only this time 'the wilderness' is our own modern culture of media, Internet, i-pods, cell phones, instant communication and gratification.
And what about love? Do we know what that is? If we don't understand what "love" is, then we're a little like the blind person being told the sky is blue. He can't fathom "sky" and has never seen a color; the description is worthless.
Many of us can't define "love" but we know it when we give it or receive it. The Holy Father identifies the different types of "love" in Section 2 and then goes on to say: 'Amid this multiplicity of meanings, however, one in particular stands out: love between man and woman, where body and soul are inseparably joined and human beings glimpse an apparently irresistible promise of happiness. This would seem to be the very epitome of love; all other kinds of love immediately seem to fade in comparison. So we need to ask: are all these forms of love basically one, so that love, in its many and varied manifestations, is ultimately a single reality, or are we merely using the same word to designate totally different realities?
That last question is one worth pondering!
Also, I don't know if anyone noticed the mention that "love" got in the "Praise Song", the Inaugural Poem today?
Here's the link for the entire poem, but here are the verses just about love:
"Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."
Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.
What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance."
It sounds to me as if the poet is in search of the same path that our Encyclical already clearly lights.
God bless our new president and America!
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