Co-Workers of the Truth 7/21

Benedict XVI“Everyman” -this is the story of a man who is exceedingly rich and not really extraordinarily bad, but who has postponed love of God and neighbor until his old age…His whole desire is to live, live, live…His riches seem to be a key to every door.  But then, while he is feasting, death lays its hand on him and sends him on his last journey. 

Everyman seeks despairingly for a companion.  But his beloved wife is just as unable and just as unwilling to accomplany him as are any of his friends; his money, in which he had placed so much confidence, is now a mere mockery.  It makes fun of him.  At this crucial moment, on his last journey, he is all alone.  No one can help him. 

Or, perhaps?  There appears on stage a lovable but badly crippled figure; again and again she tries desperately to raise herself up and take a few steps.  But her condition is truly like that of the man in the Acts of the Apostles.  She colapses; there is no strength in her bones.  She can neither stand nor move.  This good but weak woman symbolizes the good works that should have been able to protect and support Everyman as he goes before his judge.  But they are unable to do so. 

Hugo von Hofmannsthal, the author of Everyman, gives him -and us, for we, too, are Everyman -a glimpse of what we are like interiorly.  That is the way you are, too, he says; that is the way you are interiorly.  If we look attentively at ourselves we shall know that this is true.  We are interiorly stunted and crippled.  We lack interior strength because we live only exteriorly. 

“Everyman”, who abounded in health and life, was interiorly completely crippled, but he did not know it.  In his efforts to draw all life to himself, he had failed to learn what life truly is.  There appears now on stage a second female figure, who teaches the dying Everyman how to pray again.  Thus faith helps to give strength to his works.  Supported by faith, his works are able to move, and he, too, is able to move- to move along the right, the true road to salvation.  Faith gives him from Christ’s strength what Eceryman does not have of himself.

From: Roman homilies, July 17, 1984

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