|The Potentate and his people|
Supposedly that's the way things go when your army is composed of a bunch of guys from a neutral country. It is quite impressive to see how those same "neutral" guys maintain law and order in their back yard. They don't look like they're packing heat, but then, who can tell with those baggy suits they wear? Not only that, but when you get to size up the halberd that they carry around, I can assure you that whatever nerve you might have had to get wise in their back yard, calms itself down mighty soon.
Before I get serious, let me show you a picture of the commander-in- chief with his minions.
Over the last 600 years it has been automatic that the pope, the Leader of the Catholic Church, would take the job and get carried out feet first. It was expected. It was a testimony to the fact that it was not the individual human who was really in charge, but God Himself through the person. That's one way of looking at it. That is indeed the way that Joseph Ratzinger sees it, but with a twist. He sees it through the eyes of the God whom he knows. The God of Benedict XVI is a God who needs only the best, the brightest, the healthiest and the strongest to do His work. The Jesus Christ of Benedict XVI is the Head of the Church who insists that His collaborator at the top be in the best Spiritual and Human shape possible, from beginning to end. Joseph Ratzinger would never let Jesus Christ down because he did not feel up to the job any more. This tough minded and strong willed apostle would never burden Jesus Christ with a weak body that could not stand the annual trip from Galilee to Jerusalem. No. This Holy Father is taking his martyrdom standing up. All but one of the apostles were put to violent deaths. The one who lived the longest produced some of the best doctrinal teachings of the Bible. Joseph isn't going to write for the Bible, but he is going to write to enrich the world with thoughts pleasing to God, you bet!
If you doubt that shrugging out of the mantle of authority can be called martyrdom, consider the behavior of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. The examples that we have seen over the last couple of years have certainly shown us the reality of the sway that authority and power have over people.
Pope Benedict XVI has taught us many things over the last eight years or so. This however is perhaps the most powerful lesson that he has placed before us. This is the lesson that the Kingdom of Heaven is the target. The earthly calling that we pursue is measured by how closely it is related to the heavenly one. Benedict XVI is making the point that he is not afraid to live the faith with which he has been blessed, that the heavenly calling comes first and the earthly duties to which he has been called must give way to the higher reality. He doesn't want to be a weak human being serving a strong God. He doesn't want to be a weak husband serving a healthy Bride. He knows that there are other things that he can do to serve the Church. He will do them. He will have the time. His Bride, the Church, will still have him around. He just doesn't want her to be worried about him. He wants her to have a strong and healthy leader while the 21st century of her life is still young. Yes, I am convinced that Joseph Ratzinger is teaching us that earthly power and authority are nothing compared to the power and authority of the God whom we all serve. Joseph Ratzinger is not afraid to die to himself for the greater glory of God. He is one head of state who will not have to be brought down by an anonymous drone. He has opted for the love of God over the crown of authority, yes, even infallible authority.