The Father and I are one. (John 10:30)
Archbishop Jozef Michalik
Archbishop Jozef Michalik
Such words must shock because they destroy the order of our logic built on our daily experiences. Such a declaration can be accepted only through faith otherwise it is impossible!
In the next verse John the Evangelist relates what he has seen, 'The Jews fetched stones to stone him ... for blasphemy; you are only a man and you claim to be God' (10:31-33).
However, there were Jews who did not fetch stones. There were some who knew his voice and followed him, observed the deeds he performed and these were deeds no man could perform: he calmed the storm, cast out devil and healed with one word. It was only a while ago that he cured the man born blind.
In this big mixture of events and words it was difficult to preserve what was most important. That is why the Lord Jesus said that those who knew him would follow him and he would give them the eternal life.
This is an extremely important message directed to the frightened and lost man: do not fear, do not scare, God is, Jesus is God and he gives the eternal life.
A new perspective is opening. Eternity, supernaturality. We touch it; we enter it through Jesus, who rose from the dead and lives in the Church; through Jesus who nourishes us with his Body in the Holy Communion. Let us then comfort ourselves and deepen our faith and animate our love 'so that we shall not perish for ever and no one snatch us out of his hand'.
The Gospel is not only the good news about the eternal life but also about the fact that every day leads to the eternal life. The call to live a life of faith is the call to sanctification in daily contact between God and men, in relationship to oneself and to tasks we undertake ourselves or the tasks our lives impose on us. Let us not fear the world and new challenges, let us not fear people, and let us not shut our homes and hearts before them. New difficulties are always experienced in a new way. We face unexpected situations many times but we are not alone. There are people, our brothers and sisters, there is God, the Risen Christ is alive and 'for where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them (see Matthew 18:20).
Do people know today, do they want to know which way is the path to universal progress and constant growth, to happiness, joy and daily satisfaction with life? The answer is simple but it is as ordinary as it is difficult, in faithfulness and truth about God, about my own self and other men.
Here is the news which is shocking to many: All men are children of one God and that is why one man is a brother to another man and brotherhood is the skill to share and make place at the common table of the Father; it is daily help to the weak, the sick or the helpless only because they are my brothers and our common Father watches over them.
Today we stand at the threshold of new times and perhaps we can say that we enter a period of new responsibility, our responsibility for new tasks in our Fatherland, in Europe and in the world.
We witness an extraordinary event. Nations and countries open their borders; the canons and barrels of rifles are not directed at a man standing at the border of Poland, Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, France and Hungary... Will it be a beginning of new thinking; will it be a school of new European culture, the culture of trust, of presence through co-operation and brotherly love, through truth and respect for other nations? Here is a new task for us: respecting every man in a new way, we respect what is beautiful and good in our Fatherland.
What is this fatherland for me? It is the place and home we were born and received the grace of faith, or got to know the important truth that God is our Father and Jesus is the Son of God, and our Saviour...
It is here that we, thanks to our family, entered the heritage of faith, knowledge and national culture, which became our new window onto the world, gave us 'a passport' to our presence in the world of people and nations.
Fatherland is also our common responsibility. It is our hardship to work out its spiritual and material wealth. It is readiness to sacrifice for the sake of its heritage. It is a feeling of responsibility for its history and for its future.
Poland, which has always been in Europe, stands at the threshold of new responsibility in the big family of nations today.
Let us mention the historical fact that Christianity created Europe and the very word 'Europe' was first used in modern times by Pope Michael V (1447-1455) in the year 1453 when Constantinople fell and people facing the Ottoman threat knew that they had to unite their forces to save what the Church had created through centuries in the peaceful co-operation with the Greek and Roman cultures as well as the Jewish and Arabic cultures.
In contemporary Europe we should respect the identity of every nation and be aware of 'the difficulty to connect a strong tendency to integrate everything and everybody in the European Union with the right to preserve the identity of every nation' (Giscard d'Estaing). The last months have shown how difficult it is to create good works, how difficult it is to acknowledge a sound hierarchy of values, where God and man have the right to citizenship and where the right to faith and the right to practice faith should be respected without breaking freedom of the unbeliever. It must be stated that new Europe without ethical foundations will be a continent of nations and countries, where there are 'equal' and 'more equal'. Therefore, we regard any attempts to write the European constitution as provocation, the constitution which does not mention God and his Ten Commandments, which does not guarantee the right to life from the moment of conception and which is open to special privileges to make subjective interpretation of the individual's good without paying attention to serious infringement of fundamental rights of another man, and those rights are the right to live, the right to religion or the right to accessible achievements of culture. Pope John Paul II was right when observing the absence of God in the text of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (Laeken) he warned us that 'in the light of the events in the 20th century it is evident that God's Laws and man's rights are confirmed or abolished together' (speech delivered on 16 December 2000).
I am deeply convinced that the future of Europe will be decided by the fact whether God has a right to citizenship in it and whether the basis of relationships between nations and people is the conscience, which acknowledges the right to live and the right to the dignity of each person whom God created in the image of himself.
Brotherhood of men without acknowledging common Father is devoid of the strongest foundation. Jesus said, 'My Father and I are one' and thanks to him we become children of God.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today we are at the place where the Temple of Holy Providence will be built. The temple which is to commemorate the Polish cry for freedom and to remind us that God saw this sadness and heard the cry for help when Poland faced partitions, and that God allowed us to taste the fruits of freedom once more. For many of us this taste is sour and bitter sometimes but we all know very well that it was not so that freedom lost its taste but human egoism and self-interest ruin God's plan of love for each man and sows a new disease, against which we all should defend ourselves.
The Constitution of 3rd May was adopted in 1791 in dramatic circumstances but it was an expression of wisdom of the whole nation and its will to live in freedom. Although the nation was to lose this freedom soon it has never renounced it. Two days after the bill had been adopted the assembled estates of the Polish Commonwealth declared to the whole world that the gift of liberty was above all a great gift of the Providence and that is why it was approved, I quote, 'as thanksgiving to God for the moment which happened... we order Polish bishops to acknowledge the day of Saint Stanislaus, bishop and martyr, patron of the Polish Crown as a solemn feast, which we and our heirs will celebrate as a day devoted to the Highest Providence... With the aim that future generations will feel more strongly that we did not lose this time, so favourable for the salvation of the nation, we declare that a church ex voto of all classes is to be erected and dedicated to the Highest Providence, to commemorate this event'.
It is worth remembering St Stanislaus and his day, which is solemnly celebrated in Krakow, the city of the Pope. According to the will of the Parliament, the day should be regarded as solemn in the entire Poland and the second obligation that was accepted is that all classes should stand beside the Primate and bishops in order to have the Temple of Holy Providence built.
Today, a day after the historical act of voluntary demolition of borders by ten new European countries, which we should interpret as an opening to the countries of Slavonic cultures, it is worth reconsidering the words of the Polish Parliament and the Constitution of May 3rd. It is worth doing because the history of Poland shows that when God's Providence is omitted in the world, the house, which is built together, has no stable foundations.
One should say that in those days the truth of the gift of liberty, received from God, was spoken by the representatives of the nation, which despite its weaknesses and moral deficiencies, hosted those who were even more humiliated... In this voice of thanksgiving for liberty one could hear the gratitude of the sheltered refugees - the Czech Brothers, and the gratitude of the Jews, who had settled in those lands since the 11th century, and after waves of persecutions in other European countries, after the hecatomb of martyrdom for the alleged spread of plague, protected by the privileges granted in 1264 by Boleslaw Wstydliwy (Boleslau the Bashful), found their second homes here, and as history tells us they found their Fatherland here for seven hundred years. It is true that afterwards there was a horrible period of the Nazi slavery, which was born out of contempt for God, and another hecatomb of millions of Jews, Gypsies, Poles, Russians and other nations, which we should remember and warn against because going away from God of Love, who is God of the Truth and Life, always bears hatred, disaster and pain.
One should remember, speak and caution others that in Poland during World War II - as in no other country - the Nazis condemned to death for hiding one Jew, and despite this fact what country can recall 50,000 families (the data of the Institute of National Remembrance), who gave up their lives to save Jews.
I know that there are Oswiecim and Jedwabne in my Country, which were humiliated with suffering, violence and their own weakness, but there is also Markowa on this earth, which we could not hear about in our and world's press although TV and press were invited to the ceremony of dedication of a unique monument to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the events which had happened there.
Markowa is a village near Lancut, which sheltered numerous oppressed Jews during World War II. The family of Jozef and Wiktoria Ulm was known for their involvement in parish life, in the Catholic Youth Association and then in Polish Catholic Action. They lived very modestly on a very small peace of land; had six children and expected another one. During the whole period of occupation they sheltered eight Jews, two families, under their roof. They were not an exception in this village. There were several heroic families there.
Unfortunately, someone brought shame upon himself by denunciating the merciful man, and on 24 March 1944 the Nazi police won; first they murdered eight Jews and then nine members of the Ulms. All were killed; the last baby was killed in mother's womb. The process of beatification of the Ulms is continuing. Let radio stations still remain silent about it and let the film sun lamps be switch off over them. They do not match the picture of a Pole, a European and man of faith. They do not match the present mentality. And especially another fact does not match this situation, namely that in Markowa, after this murder, none of the Jews hiding there was denunciated, and there were seventeen more. All survived. One of them, old and generous Abraham, came from Nazareth for this day in order to give his testimony of gratitude for the family that saved him when he was a child. For he regards this simple women, who died some time ago, as his second mother.
Yes, Brothers and Sisters, and this is also our heritage, which we bring into Europe. Who knows, maybe not only once but always should we give testimony of heroic love, which means love that does not fear the greatest risk to help another man, no matter who he is: an Arab, a Jew, a Russian, a Chechen or Kazakh. He is also a child of one Father in heaven.
My Father and I are one ... (John 10:30)
For I was hungry and you gave me food (Matthew 25:35)
The Temple of Holy Providence is not only a testimony of desire for liberty, it is not only a symbol of various ways to liberty but it is also a new sign of trust in God's Providence. It is a new call of faith for God's presence and for his commandments among us. It is also a reminder that we should follow the commandment of love of God and your neighbour today, and tomorrow, among all people and nations.
History shows that it is easier to make declarations than to fulfil them, but the will to build this temple may be a necessary symbol for the new Europe of nations, which cannot be built without a sanctuary, without faithfulness to the cross and the teaching of the Gospel. Here is what Poles bring to Europe - reminder and trust in God's Providence.
The way to build this temple is long and the way to Europe is still long and difficult.
The prophet Nathan accompanied David and Salomon in building the Temple. Let us also listen to the prophet of our times, who loves our country as each of us does, or perhaps more than each of us. He is a European more than we all are. Recently he has devoted a whole document to Europe. It refers to the presence of the Church on our continent.
Here is the voice of John Paul II: 'the loss of Europe's Christian memory and heritage' (Ecclesia in Europa, 7) and therefore, we need churches and we need a living Church of people in order to remind that 'this loss of Christian memory is accompanied by a kind of fear of the future... The signs and fruits of this existential anguish include, in particular, the diminishing number of births... we see an increased weakening of interpersonal solidarity... At the root of this loss of hope is an attempt to promote a vision of man apart from God and apart from Christ'.
Yes, we are thankful to the Holy Father that he loves every nation and that he strongly stresses the value of the European Community. We are also thankful that he does not stop loving us with a demanding love and that he does not move back from a prophetic mission, demanding a lot from ourselves.
Better future lies in our minds and hands. The Temple of Holy Providence is a sign, a symbol of trust in God. We must build it and take great pains, but the sacrifice, which is pleasing to God, is a clean and humble heart, faith and life according to faith, faithfulness to conscience, work and prayer for inner healing of each and of the whole nation, the healing of the very sick state, which lives with scandals and affairs and which does not live with its concern for the unemployed and those who are losing their jobs, the concern for man, whom we need to help find himself in the new reality so that it becomes for him a chance and not a threat. The way to the future is always difficult but there are no safe short cuts. Polish bishops have reminded us in their last letter that one cannot believe easy promises and false recipes for a painless prosperous future. What is important is that our next efforts and other chances will not be lost.
Today the Fatherland calls for people of conscience on all levels, at all posts and places.
The Spanish philosopher Mignel Unamuno lamented that 'we too often weave for ourselves a poor picture with our behaviour, deeds and words. In the end this picture makes us its slaves. Instead of judging our deeds and words before God, instead of judging them before our conscience, we direct our attention only to the impressions they create on our neighbours...' (Diary of the soul, 60).
Observing our social life, some journalist - thinker wrote that 'Polish life will not be renewed by any individual nor any separate group, but only by a definitive, clear, deeply moral, well-prepared... common, spiritual movement... only a political group, which will be able to organize the most vivid spiritual life, has the change to win...'
Unfortunately, in Poland there are many people who have not learnt anything ... and 'they imagine future Poland as a blessed land of party nepotism for them and their coteries'. These words were written in 1942 by Karol Ludwik Koninski (1891-1943) (cf. 'Arcana' 6/2003).
One should tell people about this, one should repeat and cry that we must not harden our hearts and lose hope.
One should tell God about this in prayer. Therefore, I beg you, Brothers and Sisters, I beg you, Brother Bishops coming from so many countries of Europe, America and Asia, to support us with your experiences and prayers. I beg you, our holy Patrons, to pray for us.
Mary, Queen of Poland, take our whole nation under your care, take your nation in your care at the beginning of this path of history. Amen.