Saturday, April 02, 2005

"Arise, Let Us Go Forth"

John 14:26-31 (King James Version)

26 “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
27Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
28Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
29And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.
30Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
31But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.”


Karol Joseph Wojtyla, a man whose face mirrored God’s inner work of love, grace, and mercy, has passed from death to life, from this life to the next.

He was known to his flock and to the world as the Vicar of Christ, but his most cherished title was “good and faithful servant.”

He was fluent in eight languages and, by some accounts, could converse in twenty-six. He communicated love and grace in all.

He’d known the sting of oppression and tyranny, yet he never surrendered to bitterness and hate.

Beyond the greatness of this man that scholars, journalists, and analysts will be remembering for years to come, there was common goodness, the reflection of the salvation he obediently worked out with fear and trembling. He was, in the truest sense of the words, a good man.

He will be remembered as a great and wise man, not because of greatness or wisdom that was beyond us. He will be remembered as a great and wise man because of his extraordinary humanity. He obeyed the “call” of God on his life and the words of Jesus became flesh in his life. He touched us all and he allowed himself to be touched by us as well. He was a man, a real man.

In his book, “Arise, Let Us Be on Our Way,” he looked at the call of Jesus in his life. That call, he believed, was a call to “Arise.” At the end of this wonderful work he described that call in lyric prose:

“When “His hour” had come, Jesus said to those who were with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, to Peter, James, and John, His closest disciples: “Rise, let us be on our way” (cf.
Mark 14:42). Not only He must be on his way” to fulfill His Father’s will: they, too, must go with Him.”

“That invitation, “Rise, let us be on our way,” is addressed particularly to us bishops, His chosen friends. Even if the words indicate a time of trial, great effort, and a painful cross, we must not allow ourselves to give way to fear. They are also words of peace and joy, the fruit of faith. On another occasion, to the same three disciples, Jesus said: “Rise, and do not be afraid!” (
Matt. 17:7). God’s love does not impose burdens upon us that we cannot carry, nor make demands that we cannot fulfill. For whatever He asks of us, He provides the help that is needed.”

“I say this from the place to which the love of Christ Our Savior has led me, asking of me that I should leave my native land so as to bring forth fruit elsewhere through His grace – fruit that will last (cf.
John 15:16). Echoing the words of our Lord and Master, I too say to each one of you, dear brothers in the episcopate: “Rise, let us be on our way!” Let us go forth full of trust in Christ. He will accompany us as we journey toward the goal that He alone knows.”

God’s final call to Karol Joseph Wojtyla came today. “Arise, let us go forth.”

I and fellow evangelical Christians around the world mourn his passing. And we also celebrate his life and work. God’s work on earth in this good man has been accomplished. But there is more for us yet to do. We must now not only honor his life with words, but with deeds. His work for social justice must be carried on. His work to affirm the dignity and beauty of human life must be affirmed. The good fight of faith must be pressed forward. “Arise, therefore, let us go forth!”

1 comment:

Bishop said...

Phil:
God richly bless you and your dear wife also. This is a tremendous study of Episcopal responsibility and union with Christ in his death and in his life. Thank you, my dear, dear man for it!

+Rt. Rev. Dr. Aaron R. Orr
The Interantional Free Protestant Episcopal Church Canada Section,
Hamilton Ontario.