John Paul II warned against the “Gospel of Winning” a la Charlie Sheen

In Crossing the Threshold of Hope, John Paul II speaks about “Is there really hope in the young?” He explains his close connection to the youth throughout his ministry. He said this: “anywhere the Pope goes, he seeks out the young and the young seek him out. Actually, in truth, it is not the Pope who is being sought out at all. The one being sought out is Christ, who knows ‘that which is in every man’ (cf. Jn 2:25), especially in a young person, and who can give true answers to his questions! And even if they are demanding answers, the young are not afraid of them; more to the point, they even await them.”

Forum advisor Mitchell Thomas found a powerful homily given by Pope John Paul II to the young from the mount of the beatitudes. Almost exactly 11 years ago (March 24 2000) the Venerable John Paul II walked the hills of the Holy land and spoke to the young people. (Entire homily is here) It stands in stark contrast to the gospel of winning preached by Mr. Charlie Sheen whose words and actions reveal  the true gospel of Hollywood — “happy are the exceedingly wealthy and wasteful, happy are the self-assertive, happy are those who laugh with scorn as they drink Tiger Blood, happy are those who thirst after fame, happy are the mean and revengeful,  happy are the lustful, happy are those who fuel dissension. and happy are you when the press persecutes you for all publicity is good publicity.” His father, Martin Sheen, asks us to pray for Charlie: “We lift him up and we ask everyone who cares about him to lift him up and lift up all of those who are in the grip of drug and alcohol abuse,” Martin continued. “Because they too are looking for transcendence.”

The  Holy Father warns us against the voice of the evil one and then points us to the truth. John Paul anticipated this false gospel– in 2000 he identifies the Screwtape of such sentiments — “Yes”, says the voice of evil, “they are the ones who win. Happy are they!”

 To the youth John Paul offers true hope and the challenge the true gospel will bring — “His call has always demanded a choice between the two voices competing for your heart.”

“Blessed are you!”, he says, “all you who are poor in spirit, gentle and merciful, you who mourn, who care for what is right, who are pure in heart, who make peace, you who are persecuted! Blessed are you!” But the words of Jesus may seem strange. It is strange that Jesus exalts those whom the world generally regards as weak. He says to them, “Blessed are you who seem to be losers, because you are the true winners: the kingdom of heaven is yours!” Spoken by him who is “gentle and humble in heart” (Mt 11:29), these words present a challenge which demands a deep and abiding metanoia of the spirit, a great change of heart.

You young people will understand why this change of heart is necessary! Because you are aware of another voice within you and all around you, a contradictory voice. It is a voice which says, “Blessed are the proud and violent, those who prosper at any cost, who are unscrupulous, pitiless, devious, who make war not peace, and persecute those who stand in their way”. And this voice seems to make sense in a world where the violent often triumph and the devious seem to succeed. “Yes”, says the voice of evil, “they are the ones who win. Happy are they!”
Jesus offers a very different message. Not far from this very place Jesus called his first disciples, as he calls you now. His call has always demanded a choice between the two voices competing for your hearts even now on this hill, the choice between good and evil, between life and death. Which voice will the young people of the twenty-first century choose to follow? To put your faith in Jesus means choosing to believe what he says, no matter how strange it may seem, and choosing to reject the claims of evil, no matter how sensible or attractive they may seem.
You hear his voice on this hill, and you believe what he says. But like the first disciples at the Sea of Galilee, you must leave your boats and nets behind, and that is never easy – especially when you face an uncertain future and are tempted to lose faith in your Christian heritage. To be good Christians may seem beyond your strength in today’s world. But Jesus does not stand by and leave you alone to face the challenge. He is always with you to transform your weakness into strength. Trust him when he says: “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9)!.  .  .  .
 For two thousand years Christ’s followers have carried out this mission. Now, at the dawn of the Third Millennium, it is your turn. It is your turn to go out into the world to preach the message of the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. When God speaks, he speaks of things which have the greatest importance for each person, for the people of the twenty-first century no less than those of the first century. The Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes speak of truth and goodness, of grace and freedom: of all that is necessary to enter into Christ’s Kingdom. Now it is your turn to be courageous apostles of that Kingdom!
Young people of the Holy Land, Young people of the world: answer the Lord with a heart that is willing and open! Willing and open, like the heart of the greatest daughter of Galilee, Mary, the Mother of Jesus. How did she respond? She said: “I am the servant of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).
O Lord Jesus Christ, in this place that you knew and loved so well, listen to these generous young hearts! Continue to teach these young people the truth of the Commandments and the Beatitudes! Make them joyful witnesses to your truth and convinced apostles of your Kingdom! Be with them always, especially when following you and the Gospel becomes difficult and demanding! You will be their strength; you will be their victory!

Israel – Korazim, Mount of the Beatitudes
Friday, 24 March 2000



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