spiritual writings | retreat center directory

You're invited to visit our sister site DanJoseph.com, a resource site
featuring articles on spirituality, psychology, and A Course in Miracles.

Home | Writings | World | Pope John Paul II | Crossing part 3 | back   

Excerpted from Crossing the Threshold of Hope by His Holiness John Paul II. Copyright © 1994 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, distributed by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"Do not be afraid of God, but invoke Him with me: 'Our Father' (Mt 6:9). Do not be afraid to say 'Father'!"

Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Part 3

Returning to your question, I would like to recall the words of Christ together with my first words in St. Peter's Square: "Be not afraid." Have no fear when people call me the "Vicar of Christ," when they say to me "Holy Father," or "Your Holiness," or use titles similar to these, which seem even inimical to the Gospel. Christ himself declared: "Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one master, the Messiah" (Mt 23:9-10). These expressions, nevertheless, have evolved out of a long tradition, becoming part of common usage. One must not be afraid of these words either.

Every time Christ exhorts us to have no fear, He has both God and man in mind. He means: Do not be afraid of God, who, according to philosophers, is the transcendent Absolute. Do not be afraid of God, but invoke Him with me: "Our Father" (Mt 6:9). Do not be afraid to say "Father"! Desire to be perfect just as He is, because He is perfect. "So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48).

Christ is the sacrament of the invisible God - a sacrament that indicates presence. God is with us. God, infinitely perfect, is not only with man, but He Himself became a man in Jesus Christ. Do not be afraid of God who became a man! It was precisely this that Peter said at Caesarea Philippi: "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God" (Mt 16:16). Indirectly He affirmed: You are the Son of God who became a man. Peter was not afraid to say it, even if these words did not come from him. They came from the Father. "No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son" (cf. Mt 11:27).

"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father" (Mt 16:17). Peter uttered these words through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Church also continues to utter them through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Peter was not afraid of God who had become a man. He was afraid, instead, for the Son of God as a man. Peter could not accept that He would be whipped and crowned with thorns and finally crucified. Peter could not accept that. He was afraid. And for this Christ severely reproached him, but He did not reject him.

Peter had goodwill and a fervent heart and Christ did not reject him, this man who at Gethsemane even drew his sword in order to defend his Master. Jesus only said to him: "Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed…and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers" (cf. Lk 22:31-32).

back to index ->