Blessed John Paul II and Osama Bin Laden: Coincidence?

You might be thinking, what the heck does this blog entry title have anything to do with vocations?  Give me a few paragraphs to tie it all together for you. 

As we all know, on the morning of Divine Mercy Sunday, two events of great significance happened.  In Rome, Pope Benedict XVI presided over the Beatification Mass of the now Blessed John Paul II.  Perhaps the most moving part of the Mass came at its start, when Sr. Marie Simon Pierre, the French nun who was cured through John Paul’s intercession, carried the relic of John Paul to the altar in St. Peter’s Square.  Next, the beautiful picture of Blessed Pope John Paul was unveiled from the facade of St. Peter Basilica.  The crowd, over 1.5 million, erupted with such joyful, sustained celebration that a PA announcer had to come over the loudspeaker to quiet the crowd, lest they ruin the solemnity of the Mass!  It was an incredibly wonderful celebration of everything good about life, and about our Catholic faith.  John Paul II, we believe, is in heaven, interceding for us! 

Also, at the same time, Navy Seals were conducting a covert raid into Pakistan, to capture or kill the terrorist Osama Bin Laden.  As we all found out late Sunday night, much to our amazement, the long anticipated day had come.  Our military personnel had finally found, and in this case, killed, the mastermind of the attacks of September 11, 2001; those events etched in the memory of our generation as firmly as Pearl Harbor was to our grandparents. 

For someone of my age (30 as of this Friday), there could not be  more notable symbols of good and evil than John Paul II and Osama Bin Laden.  These two men, one dead for 6 years, another holed up in hiding for 10 years, re-emerged to the world on the same day, with such radically different stories to tell?  Is that a coincidence?  I think not.  As someone once said, there is no such thing as a coincidence.  While we have to be careful in ascribing motives to God (as if we could know the mind of God), I can share with you what this coming together of two drastically different lives means to me.

This is the question of vocation.  For what purpose do you and I live our lives?  What motivates us?  What do we believe?  How will we relate to those around us?  How will we be remembered?  What story will our lives tell?  What story will our deaths tell?  God’s providence set before us, on Divine Mercy Sunday, two radically different lives, Blessed John Paul II, and Osama Bin Laden.  On few occasions are we able to see such stark contrast.  This contrast is good, because it presents us with an opportunity for discernment.  Which path will we choose?  Will we be a witness to peace?  Or will we live by the sword, only to die from it? 

Maybe our lives are not as consequential, we may think.  Maybe the choices in front of us are not that weighty.  However, each choice we make is important.  Each choice we make will change the world forever!  How will you choose to live your life?  It’s an important question, which shakes our lazy consciences.  

You are no accident.  You are not insignificant.  What you choose determines who you are.  Who you are will change the world forever, and will have eternal significance. To what purpose are you called?  Will you listen?  What will you do when you hear the response?   

TESTIFY II RETREAT – May 20-22nd, St. Thomas More House of Prayer, Cranberry, PA. A retreat for men high school and up, with the theme of Discipleship.  Are you looking for a quiet, semi-silent retreat to help you to grow closer to the Lord, and hear His voice?  Are you interested in journeying along with others who have that same desire?  Visit and get all the details.  If interested, please contact the Vocations Office, 814-824-1111.


About erievocations

I am a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie, PA. I am an Assistant Vocations Director, tasked with the promotion of seminary recruitment. My blog deals with discernment of vocations, especially to the priesthood, as well as our universal call to be holy.
This entry was posted in Pro-Life/Family and Vocations, The Popes and Vocations. Bookmark the permalink.

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