Below, we offer an excerpt taken from the Cardinal’s remarks delivered at the Time Banquet. The complete text can be found in an article entitled “Jesus, the Holy Name behind the Church” which was written for the Catholic New York:
“Last week, I was asked to toast the most influential person in my life. The glamorous occasion was a glittering banquet for those chosen by Time magazine as “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.” Can I share my toast with you?
“Good evening, everybody. It sure is a joy and an honor to be here with you, such distinguished and gracious company.
When the extraordinarily gracious folks from Time magazine came to visit with me in preparation for this happy occasion, one of them asked who I would consider the most influential person in my life. ‘That’s a no-brainer,’ I replied. ‘Jesus Christ is the most influential person in my life.’
The kind journalist clarified: ‘I’m sorry, I should have been more precise: the person has to be alive now.’
‘Same answer!’ I came back. ‘Jesus Christ!’
Jesus Christ is alive; that’s the significance of the feast we celebrated two weeks ago, on the Sunday called Easter.
‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?’ the angel asked those faithful women at the empty tomb down the slope from a hill called Calvary where He had been executed three days prior on a Friday strangely termed Good.
Colleagues, neighbors and friends: thanks for letting me toast this most influential person, confident as I am that many of you share my sentiments.
I admit He is a person of bewildering paradox:
true God, yet true man;
God’s son, yet born in a stable;
architect of the world, without a home of His own;
creator of the world’s resources, yet Himself possessing only the seamless garment He wore to the cross for which His executioners cast lots;
a king whose throne was a cross, whose crown was of thorns;
coming to bring mercy, but Himself condemned to death;
dead at a mere 33, yet alive forever;
a man of peace, whose followers have tragically waged violence in His Holy Name;
a man of love whose heart is broken by the sin, hatred, and division in the members of the Church He founded, even in its leaders, including me.
Yet, He never gives up on us, asking only our love, faith, and trust;
I toast Him as my Lord and Savior;
I toast Him as my best friend;
I believe He’s here with us this evening, He who invites each of us to enjoy with Him a future banquet of eternal life in heaven.
And I toast all of you influential people for your patience in letting me toast Jesus Christ, the most influential person in my life.” (Source)
Impressive. Very impressive. Not because he said it in Church, but because he said it in front of Time.