Sunday, April 24, 2005

"It's Time" for Pope Benedict XVI

First, here is a photograph taken when the newly-elected Pope Benedict XVI made his first balcony appearance to the gathered people in St. Peter's Square.
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Second, here is the photo that appeared on the front page of the Honolulu Advertiser this morning (scanned)
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Can you see what caught my eye in both pictures? This.... !
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It looks to me like a watch. It is not a digital watch but the old-fashioned kind with the watch hands twirling about that I prefer to wear myself. If anyone can identify the brand please leave me a comment!

My question is, "Why does the Pope need a watch?" Is he going to cut short his comments if the Sunday homily is going overtime? Will he ever need to leave a committee meeting early to get to a doctor appointment on time? Does he have to keep track of time so he will remember that it's time to feed the dog? or take the car down to the shop for a tune-up? What's with the watch?

Isn't his day laid out minute by minute for him by his personal secretaries? Don't others tell him when to stand up and sit down and when to say "Amen?"

What does it say to someone who, having waited for many days to have an audience with the Pope, sees him glance at his watch just as they approach him for a blessing and exchange of greetings?

I always have read that Rome was the "timeless city." Apparently Pope Benedict XVI doesn't see it that way.

For some reason, with all the elegant trappings of the papacy wrapped around him with the same sort of care that goes into dressing up one of the Swiss Guards, the watch seems somehow out of place.
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Especially when his hands are raised in front of his face as he give a sign of greeting or of blessing.

Even as a Presbyterian pastor I have always associated the Pope as being a sort of eternity personified, the representative of the Roman Church as a bearer and caretaker of the eternal Gospel, a sort of Beginning and End all wrapped up together, a reflection, so to speak, of the Alpha and Omega.

The watch, on the other hand, symbolizes mortality, the sand flowing inexorably downward through the timer.

Perhaps the new Pope already is aware of this and sees this as a reminder that he, too, is human just like the rest of us. Amidst the power and the glory, that watch looks to me like a small nod to humility and to the transitory nature of temporal wealth and power. In that sense I suppose that it serves a greater purpose than simply reminding Benedict XVI that it is time to take his blood pressure medication.
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Now, all I need to figure out is why Queen Elizabeth needs to carry around a purse? And what in the world does she keep in it?

Oh! It just came to me! I bet the Pope wears this kind of watch! It would make sense, yes?

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