Last summer, a columnist named Peggy Noonan wrote a piece entitled “A World in Crisis, and No Genius in Sight.” Noonan explains that throughout history, there is a trend for a cluster of genius people to rise up during pivotal moments of world crisis. Noonan posits further that genius clusterings require deep crises; historic figures need historic circumstances, and genius clusters tend to pursue shared goals. One of the members of the genius cluster in the 1980s, according to Noonan, is Saint John Paul II.
Today is the optional memorial for Saint John Paul II. Indeed, John Paul II was a powerful genius of his time. His papacy was marked by his courage to stand up for the right to life of the unborn. While St. Augustine is remembered for his Confessions or City of God and St. Thomas for his Summa Theologiae, John Paul II’s greatest theological contribution will likely prove to be the Theology of the Body. While rarely known or read, his writings on faith and reason (Fides et Ratio) is one of his greatest contributions to the Catholic intellectual tradition. Catholicism, for better or worse, is a religion of intelligence. Above all, through the vast amount of his writings, John Paul II wished to defend the capacity of human reason by advocating for the knowledge of the truth. By addressing the fundamental questions, “who am I? where have I come from? and where am I going? Why is there evil? What is there after this life?”, John Paul II helped to lead the Church to this sought after truth.
Sadly, as Peggy Noonan said, the current leaders of the world are not an impressive group. The world is in crisis and there is no genius cluster. “The villain has arrived while there is no hero around.” Let us pause and reflect on what St. Paul said in the first reading. “God gives some as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to equip the holy ones for the building up the Body of Christ.” Let us pray that God will raise a new genius like Saint John Paul II who can be a witness of truth and love in this troubled world.