The Pope, the Pundits,
and the Wisdom of this World
"The wisdom of this world is foolishness with
God" (I Corinthians 3.19)
It is at least a little amusing to have
watched, for some days now, the pundits, sages, priests and prophets
being brought out by the various news originations to assess the aptitude
of the man chosen by God for the job. Wise and perceptive — mostly apperceptive
— some with many years, some with few, and all passing a learned judgment
on the perspicacity of God. With a growing sense of bewilderment, and
not a little consternation, they attempt to articulate the apparent
folly that has been enacted before them. Their questions, by and large,
can be summarized rather simply: "Has He done well, this God?" Has He
chosen well, suitably — correctly.
Such terribly momentous questions call for terribly monumental minds,
and so they are trooped out by the news anchors, and with an air of
both erudition and perplexity ... and not a little inanity ... they
attempt to second guess God and either repudiate or applaud His election.
They will articulate their reasons why God has chosen poorly or well,
and the reasons adduced are appropriately commensurable with their own
disposition toward the Church. To say that their own attitude toward
both God and the Church is most often transparently inimical is to utter
In a sense, God has violated democracy. He has been heedless of the
plebiscite of the learned, the scholars, the progressive clergy and
the strident religious who are deficient in, or rueful of, their vocations.
He has not heard – and therefore His Church has not heard — the
voices crying out for divine ratification, for holy approbation, of
abortion, homosexuality, condoms, contraception ... in short, He has
been heedless of the cries against the perpetuation of life. This is
unacceptably incorrect of God, and point by point they will enumerate
His arrogance and folly. Who does He think He is, after all ... God?!
Well, yes. And that piques many who are not God – and the few who apparently
deem themselves such, at least in the way of infallible judgment, very
clearly resent the competition. And that the Church would collaborate
in this audacity is clearly a sign that it is out of touch with men,
women, whales, and time. But we are quite smug that we have known this
all along. After all, being good democrats first, and Catholics second,
we exercise our franchise rigorously, choosing what we will accept and
obey, leaving the more stringent anomalies to the unenlightened "others"
— you know, "the sheep" who "just follow" because, really, they do not
know better or are less enlightened, less educated ... rather like the
Apostles who followed Christ the Good Shepherd. And among them, who
was the least enlightened? Peter! And whom has God now called to the
shoes of the fisherman?
Of course, it eludes many, utterly, that God chose Abel over Cain, Joseph
and not Benjamin, David over his elder brothers. Such behavior is not
correct. Such choices are gratuitous, and seem arbitrary – running deeply
against the grain of men. Look at Cain's response. And but for Judah
and Ruben, the brothers of Joseph. When God does not act in a way that
is pleasing to us, that accommodates our own sensibilities, we become
We cannot, however – and to the dismay of many – directly attack God.
Like petulant children who have been deprived of their will, we set
about to attack whom is closest to Him, much as a bully, unable to access
his victim, settles for his little brother. We attack His Body the Church,
the College of Cardinals, the Bishops. Such childish malice. And all
the more malicious because it euphemistically masques itself as "progressive",
"enlightened", "in touch" and above all, "tolerant" — however
intolerant they be of God, Church, and the genuinely faithful.
Fortunately, God has chosen, and all our malcontent and irascible displeasure
avails us nothing.
In the end, we are all fools. We do not know that we do not know. The
path that Pope Benedict XVI will walk is traced by the finger of God,
and perhaps the wisest admonition has already become axiomatic: "It
is better to keep ones mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open
it and remove all doubt."
May Benedict's days be long and blessed ... for in the end, all our
days are short and few.
Boston Catholic Journal
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