Times misconstrues John Paul II’s Gospel quote
In this ever-changing world in which we live, there is one thing we can expect with near-absolute certainty: when a liberal quotes or references the Bible, he will get the plain meaning of the passage wrong. (Think, for example, of every time Bill Clinton or Jesse Jackson or John Kerry have quoted the Bible.) In a front page article in the New York Times, Daniel J. Wakin writes that Pope John Paul II, in an entry in his will written on March 17, 2000, “appeared to anguish over a momentous thought: resigning the papacy.”
“Providence has seen fit for me to live in the difficult century that is departing into the past,” he wrote, “and now in the year in which I reach my 80’s, one needs to ask oneself if it is not the time to repeat with the biblical Simeon, ‘Nunc dimittis.’”Wakin continues:
He was referring to a passage, in Latin, from the Gospel of Luke in which Simeon takes the baby Jesus in his arms and says, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.”Wakin seems to believe that when Simeon said, “Let thy servant depart in peace,” he meant that it was time for him to retire. Of course, what Simeon meant was that it was time for him to die. This is clear from Luke 2:26, which is just three verses before the verse Wakin quoted, but which Wakin apparently didn’t bother to read: “And it was revealed unto [Simeon] by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”
Thus there is nothing in the Pope’s words suggesting that he considered resigning. What he was thinking, in comparing himself to Simeon, was that it was time for him to die, but, he continued, the timing of that was up to God.
Also, if the meaning of Simeon’s words was that he was ready to retire, what would he have retired from? From being a man in Jerusalem waiting for the Christ to appear?