GUEST COLUMN
The Pope & the Laborer

May 2011By Kevin Bezner

Kevin Bezner is a poet, teacher, and catechist who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. He teaches English at Belmont Abbey College.

Some years ago, I found myself out of work. Since I could not find work in my field, I took a job working at night in a warehouse where I unpacked flowers in the refrigerator room from about 8 PM to 1 AM. The work was tedious, the room wet and cold, but no one bothered me and I enjoyed the steady, repetitive work we did in silence.

The Russian immigrant who was in charge of our two- to three-man team showed me how to open the cardboard boxes we unloaded and remove the long-stem roses, soon to fill vases for Valentine’s Day, without getting too many cuts from the thorns. Once we unloaded the roses, we stacked them on tables for the cutters.

At the end of the night, we broke down the numerous boxes we’d unloaded with efficient kicks and put them out in the trash. If we finished early, as we did some nights, we joined the assembly line and helped the women put the flowers we had unpacked into the vases. I found this work more difficult than the work in the refrigerator room — the vases came down the line very fast for my still cold and fumbling hands. But the women worked flawlessly even as they talked incessantly.

I would get home about 1:30 AM and would welcome the time alone, especially on the nights that had ended on the line. Before I would settle in to read and perhaps write poems for a few hours before going to bed, I would have a beer or a glass of wine and something to eat in front of the television in the kitchen. One morning, while looking for something to watch, I settled on EWTN, the Catholic station I usually passed by. I watched for about ten minutes, the way a curious tourist might stop to watch a street performance in a country vastly different from his own.


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Back to May 2011 Issue

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I have to confess that this is not the first time this happened. On a number of occasions for many years now since my conversion to the Catholic Church [that too was uneventful and unnoticed, except for the fact that no Catholic talked me into becoming one, and give the credit to our Blessed Mother], I would be pondering on a certain subject, or a Scriptural passage or actually discussing something with a friend, without having read the Reading in the next Mass I was going. And in the Mass when listening to the Reading, it is exactly about what I was pondering or discussing with someone about...
And now reading this personally touching essay - because I intuitively observe people in the church also, always in admiration and respect - the apparent theme is about how God does many things in a hidden way. But just hours before I read it, I finished reading Chapter 9 of our Pope's Jesus of Nazareth-Part2 where towards the end, the Pope touches on God's mystery of acting gently. Here is the excerpt from pages 276-277:

"To conclude, all of us are constantly inclined to ask the question that Saint Jude Thaddaeus put to Christ during the Last Supper: "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?" (Jn 14:22). Why, indeed, did you not forcefully resist your enemies who brought you to the Cross? - we might well ask. Why did you not show them with incontrovertible power that you are the living one, the Lord of life and death? Why did you reveal yourself only to a small flock of disciples, upon whose testimony we must now rely?
The question apllies not only to the Resurrection, but to the whole manner of God's revelation in the world. Why only to Abraham and not to the mighty of the world? Why only to Israel and not irrefutably to all the peoples of the earth?
It is part of the mystery of God that he acts so gently. that he only gradually builds up his history within the great history of mankind; that he becomes man and so can be overlooked by his contemporaries and by the decisive forces within history; that he suffers and dies and only through the faith of the disciples to whom he reveals himself; that he dontinues to knock gently at the doors of our hearts and slowly opens our eyes if we open our doors to him.
And yet - is not this the truly divine way? Not to overwhelm with external power, but to give freedom, to offer and elicit love. And if we really think about it, is it not what seems so small that is truly great? Does not a ray of light issue from Jesus, growing brighter across the centuries, that could not come from any man and through which the light of God truly shines into the world? Could the apostolic preaching have found faith and built up a worldwide community unless the power of truth had been at work within it?
If we attend to the witnesses with listening hearts and open ourselves to the signs by which the Lord again and again authenticates both them and himself, then we know that he is truly risen. He is alive. Let us entrust ourselves to him, knowing that we are on the right path. With Thomas let us place our hands into Jesus' pierced side and confess: "My Lord and my God!" (Jn 20:28)."

Time and again, God's foolishness proves mightier than the noisy wisdom of men. From bed-ridden mystics and unknown sufferers, to poor children who experience authentic visions, to ordinary church goers and Mass attendants and daily Communicants, God chooses His Elects to build His Body.
Posted by: humblesoldier2
May 31, 2011 09:34 PM EDT
Thanks be to God.
Posted by: fallace@optonline.net
June 15, 2011 09:42 AM EDT
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