There is a saying that some people often quip, "The only constant thing is change." It's a paradoxical statement, how we all yearn for something constant and unchanging yet on earth all we seemingly experience is change. Many times we don't want change and we fear the possibilities it might bring. Other times we are dying for change and fear the possibility of stagnation. The measure of time marks what changes on the earth. Time marches on. People are born and they die. Empires rise and fall. The sun rises and sets. And on it goes.
Yet, in all this change, we yearn for something eternal. Today was the last day of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. One of the names he is now officially referred to is "Pontiff Emeritus." Tears of sorrow, solidarity and gratitude flowed down my cheeks today as I watched the frail yet adept Holy Father leave his papal residence in Rome, enter into a helicopter and fly over the city in a quiet but marked exit from his authority as the Vicar of Christ on earth. This man pledged his respect and obedience to the new Pope and promised he would not abandon the Church but begin his last stage as a pilgrim on Earth, praying for us and offering the rest of his life in service of God.
His Holiness repeatedly mentioned these last few days that the Church belongs to Jesus, it is His Church and the Church will go on. Somehow, in spite of all of our broken humanity and sin, Jesus does not leave us orphans and He is the only Rock upon which we build. Jesus is the only Person who doesn't change. St. Paul reminds us that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) How amazing that the Timeless One builds in history upon finite creatures. How amazing He is.
Because Jesus is timeless, He can enter into every aspect of our lives. He is with us when change brings sorrow- when a loved one is lost, a child dies or a dream is seemingly shattered. He is with us when change brings joy- a new birth, a new marriage or a dream finally realized. He comes to heal the sick and bind up broken hearts and He never, ever leaves our side.
Even when things seem out of control and we shake with fear or anger, God still has a plan. Even when we can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, God still has a plan. Even when anguish seems to threaten our hearts and lives, God still has a plan. He loves us. He sees us. He already sees everything and He knows everything. God does not live captive in our time, He lives in eternity, He sees everything at once. He sits gently beside us and holds our hearts.
In this time of change, in the Church, in the world, in our personal lives; let us call upon Jesus to pour out His graces upon us. Let us offer our prayers for Benedict XVI and for the Cardinals who will select the new Pope. Let us pray for conversion for our own hearts- that we may turn away from sin and lies and turn toward the One who is Truth and Life- the One who unceasingly loves us. Let us be "simple pilgrims" on the path to the heart of Christ.