Wisdom can sometimes be found in the most unlikely of places.
Those who are familiar with the Miami Herald’s online article comment threads know that it’s home to some of the most asinine, vile, cynical and downright idiotic behavior one will experience in an ordinary day. It’s hard to come up with examples to support this because it’s so prevalent. Pick just about any Herald article or op-ed, especially those involving politics or Cuba, scroll down to the comments and you’ll clearly see what I’m referring to.
Imagine, then, my pleasant surprise when I read this comment from “Mary C” to an article on the pope’s visit to Cuba by UM’s Vanessa Lopez:
Wow, I would never expect the Pope to do all the things that (Vanessa Lopez) wanted him to do. I would expect him to be Peter, not Jesus. From my perspective, that is who he was in his trip to Cuba – he brought the Good News and proclaimed it. Such high expectations that the Pope should be Jesus or God seems to set oneself up always for disappointment. It is too bad this author fails to appreciate this Pope for the one thing he really does do very well is bring God back into focus, back into the picture if people would listen, hear. He didn’t have to make the trip at all. At 84 I wouldn’t. Every time he does he puts himself at risk. Every time he does he sacrifices. So, What does he get out of going – power? fame! I doubt it. He didn’t have to go but what he wanted was for Cubans to hear something. Perhaps some people in the Cuban community did listen, did hear. Perhaps something significant did happen after all – Peter did come.
I’m guessing Mary C is detached enough from the Cuba issue to be able to make this kind of statement with such clarity. “Such high expectations that the Pope should be Jesus or God seems to set oneself up always for disappointment“. That is exactly what so many of us felt and are still feeling almost two weeks after the pope’s visit. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that only a few days after the successor of Peter returned from Cuba, Christians recalled that Peter, the rock upon which the Church was built, denied Jesus. Not once, not twice, but three times. This even after Jesus told Peter only a few hours earlier that he would deny Him. Despite Jesus’ warning, Peter’s sheer humanity got the best of him in the Lord’s great time of need.
Mary C’s comment made me harken back to Dr. Carlos Eire’s excellent “Let Peter Weep” post right after the pope left Cuba two weeks ago. Peter indeed wept. He wept because he failed, because of his cowardice, because of his broken humanity. The same broken humanity that affects us all, from the pope to the pew-warmers. That Jesus would entrust Peter to build His Church, fully well knowing Peter’s weaknesses and imperfect humanity, speaks volumes for the undeserved graces and love we receive every day. The same applies to Peter’s successors. All of them. I’m just thinking out loud here, but in our weakness and inability to do the right thing all the time, especially when it’s most needed; when we let down the people who love and look up to us…this is precisely the time when God shines in us the most.
It’s only after reading Mary C’s comment that Dr. Eire’s post and the whole Cuba trip starts to make real, full sense. God entrusts us imperfect beings to run things on Earth, not just because we’re made in His image, but because only by failing, falling and picking ourselves and each other up can we truly appreciate what Jesus did on our behalf on that Good Friday almost 2,000 years ago. He picks us to live and proclaim His Word not because we’re going to represent and deliver it flawlessly and immediately touch everyone’s souls, but because only through our shared witness as humans can we truly relate and convert souls in total faith.
There’s no Easter without Good Friday.
Jesus picked a very select few to “see and believe”. Those “lucky ones” had it easy when it came to believing because they saw and experienced first-hand. The rest of us? We just gotta have faith: “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). This faith and assurance that it’s God’s will, not ours, that counts continues to sustain me and gives me hope that the pope’s visit to Cuba had and will continue to have a positive impact.
The more I think of it the more I feel that in the end, we who have to rely on the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen are the true lucky ones.