By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton


This picture shows one of the panels on the holy door at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. I have always loved it, and it speaks beautifully of the Good Shepherd reaching out to save the lost. That's the reason for hope.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Code Breaker


A couple of months ago I saw an interesting movie about code breaking in the Second World War. It told the story of British people of extraordinary intellect investing enormous amounts of time and energy to crack the coded messages of the Nazis and thus unlock their meaning. They needed to discover the "key" that would enable them to decipher and interpret the messages they were intercepting. Fascinating stuff.

What key unlocks the meaning of life? I often get the impression that many people today - too many - are struggling with the question of the meaning of their lives. Life is indecipherable, and that causes great anguish. Nowhere is this felt more acutely than in times of suffering. When meaning and understanding lie beyond our grasp, in spite of great efforts to uncover it, the result is immense frustration and, often, deep despair.

The good news - the GREAT news - is that there is a key that unlocks the meaning of the whole of life. We've had it for quite some time now, yet for a variety of reasons this key has been laid aside and forgotten while others have been substituted in futility. The key of which I speak, of course, is Jesus Christ.

From the Second Vatican Council, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) has this to say about Jesus: "The Church fully believes that Christ, who died and was raised up for all, can through His Spirit offer man the light and strength to measure up to his supreme destiny....She likewise holds that in her most benign Lord and Master can be found the key, the focal point and goal of man, as well as of all human history." (GS, 10) Why are we looking elsewhere??!! As St. John Paul II would later put it, in a phrase I love to cite: "Jesus Christ is the answer to the question that is every human life."

When we encounter Jesus, we meet the key. In him we find the full truth about both God and ourselves (cf. GS, 22). We have unlocked for us the meaning of human life, as we discover the truth of our dignity and destiny. On Sunday we heard St. Paul remind us that "our citizenship is in heaven". The Gospel account of the Transfiguration of Jesus revealed his heavenly glory in which he wills us to share. In other words, it is toward eternal life that we are destined, and this goal shapes how we understand our "here and now" and how we are to live in it.

No need to spend great efforts to unlock what appears to be life's coded and hidden meaning. The meaning is given to us clearly in Jesus Christ.