"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Time Horizons

We worry about tomorrow's tasks.  We worry about our children completing this year's grade, or doing well in this sport's season.   We imagine our lives only so far forward; perhaps next year; perhaps only until the end of summer.   Perhaps, if of a political bent, we think about the 2012 elections, and imagine that event to be the be-all-and-end-all.   Perhaps we think of our "careers," a span of a few decades.  

Pope Benedict XVI has a different time horizon:  eternity.   Today was his 60th anniversary as a priest, and his homily captures the scale and stakes of what he worries about and focuses on (and what we should worry about and focus on):
I know that forgiveness comes at a price: In his Passion [Jesus] went deep down into the sordid darkness of our sins. He went down into the night of our guilt, for only thus can it be transformed. And by giving me authority to forgive sins, he lets me look down into the abyss of man, into the immensity of his suffering for us men, and this enables me to sense the immensity of his love. He confides in me: “No longer servants, but friends.” He entrusts to me the words of consecration in the Eucharist. He trusts me to proclaim his word, to explain it aright, and to bring it to the people of today. He entrusts himself to me. “You are no longer servants, but friends”: These words bring great inner joy, but at the same time, they are so awe-inspiring that one can feel daunted as the decades go by amid so many experiences of one’s own frailty and his inexhaustible goodness.
It's like suddenly looking through a telescope and seeing the universe, after focusing your eyes for too long on the motes of dust in front of your face, kicked up by your own meanderings in the desert.

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