The Pope Speaks: December 2017
What Is a Hero?
As We were flying down the road toward home the other day we got to thinking. Many people today are on a super highway. They are flying along at 80 to 90 miles an hour, but where are they going? There are many exits to this highway, but these are ignored. Soon we top a hill and see a large pile of cars in front of us, but it will be too late. We are simply traveling too fast and will crash into this pile of cars.
This pile of cars is hell, where we all will spend eternity if we do not stop, think and then do things differently than we are.
The road to heaven is not always the easiest to travel, but it is a beautiful road.
Stop and think what you see along the side of a super highway? Is there anything to really LOOK at? Instead, think what one can see by taking the back roads. There is scenery in most places.
But let us not get side tracked by getting onto the road some people get on. This road is a mile to three miles long and runs around in a circle. One person we know calls it the "round a round", because it is truly a road that goes nowhere. Men will happily spend their afternoon driving around this road at breakneck speeds, while millions more will spend their afternoons watching them do it. And yet, how many of us will spend any time in studying the atlas of life, that is spiritual reading and catechism? Some of us are on this road to nowhere whereas the rest are on the super highway to hell. It is time to take the exit and get on the road to heaven.
And let Us begin with a true story. There was a woman who lived in World War II Germany. She was married with two children, a girl and a boy. During the last years of the war and the early part of the American occupation, food was short. So this woman fed her husband, so he would have strength to go out to work and earn money to support the family and then her two children. When food was short, she cut her own ration back. In fact, during three to four years, she so deprived herself that she lost her mind due to malnutrition. Indeed, this woman is a hero, for she fulfilled her duty, even sacrificing herself in the process. We all could and should learn from this woman's heroic self-sacrifice.
We can look at the heroes throughout the centuries. Let us first ask our self, who we consider heroes. Next we must ask our self why we consider them heroes? When one analyzes this it becomes immediately apparent that all heroes have one thing in common, self-sacrifice. The self-sacrifice can be a momentary thing, such as the story of a pro-football player who died while rescuing two drowning children some years back. He was successful in rescuing the children, but was unable to get himself back out of the pond. Others live whole lives of self-sacrifice like the mother above. However, these heroes are remembered for their act(s) of self-sacrifice.
My friends, we are all called to be heroes. Jesus says: "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13) And Jesus gave us The example on Calvary. This may be one reason why the Saints, the true heroes, tell us to meditate often on the Passion. Jesus also says: "This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you." (John 15:12)
All should be familiar with Saint Augustine's book, "The City of God". In his book he wrote this to explain two cities. The City of God is that of the heroes, who follow the path of self-sacrifice. The other city is the City of Satan, which follows the maxims of the world, the flesh and the devil. Each has its own doctrines. Jesus also makes this division, but He makes it quite clear: "He that is not with Me, is against Me; he that gathereth not with Me, scattereth." (Matthew 12:30; Luke 11:23) So, if we are not citizens of the City of God, then we are citizens of the City of Satan. If we do not follow the path of self-sacrifice Jesus has shown us, then we are following the path of self-indulgence and selfishness, which the devil teaches us to follow.
Take out the examination of conscience, which can be found in most prayer books and missals. Mark down all of the self-indulgent things we do. Then let us consider how we spend our time and how many acts of self sacrifice we do in a week. We will find we have several pages of self-indulgence and a 3x5 card is more than enough to mark our self-less actions. We are entering the season of Advent. Let us make this a little lent and get off of the super highway to hell and on to the road to heaven.