How much consolation we receive from this affirmation of the Apostle Paul! How much hope in knowing and enjoying this certainty!
The alternating events of our personal life and the history of our peoples, the urgency of dramatic news, “bellowed at us” by TV and social media, the violent aggression of the recent pandemic and environmental degradation sometimes seem to literally take our breath away, even to the point of depriving us of the joy of living and our determination to face the future.
How should we react to such challenges of life?
Often a useless and deceptive, albeit captivating, refrain is heard: “Everything will be alright”.
Captivating, because it promises a fullness of life and offers a winning perspective and sadly oftentimes deceptive, because it is not founded on something solid and truly reliable. It could be likened to a poor homeless person giving him or herself up to good luck, to an impossible magical resolution of problems, an illogical reliance on tomorrow without involving the free, responsible and enterprising will and help of the individual him or herself, and on the community at large. We know only too well: it is impossible to walk on quicksand!
We must remain steadfast and unshakable, progressing more and more in the work of the Lord!
The Apostle, on the other hand, exhorts us to be industrious, to get busy, and to carry out the work of the Lord in a progressively and ever increasing positive manner, without giving in or hesitating in the face of the hardships and adversities of life. This cannot begin from our fragility and our poverty, but from the certainty that our effort is not in vain in the Lord, entrusting ourselves to the One who deserves our unconditional faith and trust.
Today, it is urgent to recover some of the ancient wisdom from the Old Testament: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man, blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord!” (cf. Jer 17:5, 7).
Only the fidelity of the Risen and living Lord, his definitive victory over sin and death and his unfailing love for humanity and creation can open horizons of hope and revive the strength to live every hour, luminous or distressing, of our historical presence in this world.
In fact, no man or woman, not even the most brilliant or fascinating, can guarantee us life and future.
Thanks be to God, for it is He who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
The real challenge to be faced, then, is another: to allow the Lord to extend His victory over our personal lives, over our hearts.
How is it possible?
The Gospel passage shows us the way to go: humility of heart!
Recognize with sincere honesty and with a disenchanted gaze that the rotten fruit of our actions is the symptom and consequence of a sick heart, because they [the actions] are not inhabited by the truth of the Gospel, not shaped by the thought of Jesus and presumptuous in judging others and the world, without the humility of seeing, first of all, the evil that dwells undisturbed within us.
Making our heart a dwelling place of truth and true love, not using a path of psychological introspection, but truly enlightened by the Gospel and guided by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit: this is the necessary premise to welcome the victorious action of the Lord Jesus within us.
The persistent challenges of environmental ecology ( ls ) and the growing need for an authentic ecology of interpersonal relationships ( ft ) will not be able to achieve any satisfactory result if they are not supported by an unstoppable ecology of the heart.
This is the first, true and wise effort to which we are called: humility of the heart!
Let us ask for it as a gift from the Lord. Let us face this challenge with courage and confidence. For sure, we will not be disappointed!
The Lord is faithful and will bring to completion His victorious battle that may take place within us, within our brothers and sisters and throughout all of His wonderful creation!
Custody of the Holy Land
Fr. John Luke Gregory ofm