Wednesday, April 20, 2005

“This means something. This is important.”

The Movie: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1977 (Steven Spielberg, screenwriter and director)
Who says it: Richard Dreyfuss as cableman Roy Neary
The context: Neary contemplates the pile of dirt he’s made, which will become a replica of the Devil’s Tower.
How to use it: When something apparently random or insignificant has caught your attention.

Like many Catholics, I felt a terrible pang of disappointment yesterday when I first heard that Cardinal Ratzinger would be the new Pope. But I turned on the television in time to see him come out onto the balcony of St. Peter's, and I felt hopeful -- because Benedict XVI looked radiant and loving, and I thought I could see the Holy Spirit in his face.

Christianity is difficult, but simple. It begins and ends, for me, with John 15:12 -- "This is my commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you." That's all. Nothing about one religion being more valid than another. Nothing about meat on Fridays, or sins of the body, or shunning those we think are less virtuous than we are.

Love one another, as I have loved you. Jesus explains what that means: "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you." And he gave us plenty of examples to follow. Jesus refused to throw stones at the woman taken in adultery. He freely forgave his betrayers, including his closest friends, who deserted and denied him and left him to be tortured and killed. He cured the sick, fed the hungry, comforted the bereaved. He restored the dead to life, and he understood the importance of wine and the value of a good wedding. He shared everything he had, and raged at those who would take advantage of the pious and the poor.

So these are the questions that face the new Pope: how does God love us? How do we love each other? What does that require? Does it really mean denying the sacraments to anyone who loves God?

I can't believe that it does. I'm praying that this Pope will surprise us.


Madley said...

Thanks for this...

AnswerGirl said...

I missed Michael Novak's commentary in The New York Times yesterday, which was reassuring -- thanks to my mom for pointing it out. You can read it at

Dianna P. said...

This was great. I think your description of Christianity is about as elegant as I have seen. Thank you.