Wojtyla’s Homily of Third Sunday of Advent, 1974

“Are you he is to come, or shall we look for another?”
Consider Cardinal Wojtyla’s Homily of 15 December 1974.

Thus the Church “wants us to hear this question in Advent, since this is the period of waiting and coming. Humanity waits for God, for Christ, asking ‘Are you he who is to come?’ The question, which was  asked by John’s contemporaries two thousand years ago, has been asked by each successive generation and is still asked by people today.”

Cardinal Wojtyla states that there is in Poland [in 1974] an “automatic expected reply” from the authorities that “denies Poles the right to ask about God or seek Christ.” But the people continue to feel a “deep, even if confused, need to ask this question,” and they are right to do so, despite official suppression, because this question is, according to Cardinal Wojtyla, “the most important
question in the history of the human race and cannot be stifled within
the soul since it concerns the meaning of human life on earth, which
cannot be sufficiently explained through means furnished by scientific
or technological progress. The reply is given neither by the West nor
the East.” 

We see into the past this courageous challenge Blessed John Paul II raised against the communist ideology, and we see an anticipation of what he would also say to challenge the free and affluent countries to the West. For they too suppress the question, or give an “automatic expected reply” of secularist negation and ridicule by the enlightened elites of media and culture.

But we must ask in our torment by turning our gaze to Christ. Look at the life and hear the words of Christ  – just he answered the followers of the Baptist. Report what you see — the blind see, the lame walk, the captive are set free. And who can help us contemplate the face of Christ more than his mother, Mary. The Polish people are blessed by the devotion to Mary, Our Lady of Jasna Gora.

Cardinal Wojtyla shares with his audience in Lodz a gratitude the Polish people feel for Mary (the icon of Our Lady Jasna Gora had recently visited the diocese) because “she has above all helped many of our brothers and sisters reply from the depths of their souls and consciences. Her maternal spirit, which is far greater than any ordinary human spirit, has brought us closer to God . . . Mary has moved among you, just as she moved through the life of Christ and the history of the Church, silently and discreetly, and in doing so, she has helped you toward spiritual renewal.”

He then addressed this prayer to Mary:

We pray that you may grant us perseverance — you who have made our land fertile and our souls fertile in love, you have brought us closer to Christ and helped us to find the answer concerning the meaning of life, you who have entered into our families. The Kingdom of God is brought about through patient and persevering work. Mother of Christ, Queen of Poland, our Mother, be an unceasing source of inspiration for us in the grayness of our daily labor. Help us to overcome the shortcomings and weaknesses that affect us to such a great extent. Help us not to lose sight of the task of human formation and spiritual development.

The prayer is extraordinary in its simplicity, celebrating what we take for granted, as gratitude always does.

Daily life can wear us down, distract us, and lead us to give up waiting and asking, seeking, and knocking. We need ever patient and persevering work, particularly in the task of human formation and spiritual development. The task of human formation should be constant — constant as our work and our daily tasks for survival. But we do lose sight of the need to continually educate our selves about the truth of faith, to return again and again to be nourished by the mysteries of faith (rosary, sacraments), and also to seek out formation and enrichment of our faith. As Bishop and as Pope, Blessed John Paul II never lost sight of the task of human formation and spiritual development. And Mary, the Mother of Christ, assisted him and will assist us, in looking daily to the face of Christ in sorry, in joy, and in glory, particularly in this season of Advent on our humble journey towards Bethlehem. We do not look for another, we look for Him.

The homily is found in The Word Made Flesh: The Meaning of the Christmas Season, translated by Leslie Wearne (Harper & Row, 1985) pp. 19-23.

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