Sunday, July 24, 2005

Finding Our Way

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
~ Romans 12:21

In the wake of the tragic shooting of an innocent youth suspected of terrorism in London, we are left with the immensely difficult challenge of how to face the dangers of our time without harming the innocent. We have learned that we must pick our way carefully through a shadowed maze of wrong turns before we can find our footing. And it is with great sadness that we realize we must sometimes stumble and fail before our feet reach a sure path.

I have been reading the books of John Paul II since his death last April. I remember when Crossing the Threshold of Hope was on the bestseller list. Although I was interested in reading it, my life was at a particularly overstressed point at that time. I finally caught up with it, and it has proved well worth the wait, especially in view of our troubled current events.

John Paul the Great was more that a holy man unparalleled in our time. He was a scholar, a historian, a philosopher, a writer, a teacher, and a visionary of the future. The pages of this book are saturated with his strong yet gentle wisdom as well as his rock-bound faith.

I was especially fascinated by his discussion of different religious faiths and how he perceives them fitting into God's plan. And yes, indeed, John Paul II speaks of Islam in this book, telling us on page 93 that, despite their “very distant” theology vis-a-vis Christianity, “the religiosity of Muslims deserves respect”.

The emphasis upon those words was the Holy Father’s.

In the closing chapter of Memory and Identity: Conversations at the Dawn of a Millennium, John Paul II discusses his brush with death from the bullet of a would-be assassin’s gun. In this riveting discussion of his suffering in the aftermath of the shooting, John Paul makes this statement of faith from which we can all draw hope today:

There is no evil from which God cannot draw forth a greater good. There is no suffering which he cannot transform into a path leading to him.

It would do us all good to reflect upon those very wise words in light of the heavy sorrows this July has seen. We need the downtime for a moment. We very much need to find that path.