01 December 2013

Weekend Reading

The forces of darkness are at a zenith, and the love of many grows cold because of the increase in wickedness.

I think that the boundary lines of the engagement have been drawn, unequivocally. And they are well done.

There will be those who will embrace or reject this based on the great message which is included, of the equality of all people as people, and the liberation of God's love which makes us fully human, and alive. Even though we will have to return to that love, again and again, for strength and forgiveness, given our weaknesses. The door is open.

This message stings the pride of those who would ascend to the throne of God themselves by themselves, who consider themselves superior to their neighbor, and the gifts of God which come from God as their own, and profane them in their use. Their greed is a reflection of the emptiness that is pride.

The choice is between life and death. And we all choose, one way or another, whether we fully realize our choice. We may try to rationalize it, and hide the face of that darkness whom we serve from our own hearts. But we will choose.

The first sin was that of Lucifer, in his pride. And those who fall will fall with him, in it.

Let go of your foolish pride, and choose life.

"The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.

This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.

I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.” ...

There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter. I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved.

I understand the grief of people who have to endure great suffering, yet slowly but surely we all have to let the joy of faith slowly revive as a quiet yet firm trust, even amid the greatest distress: “My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is… But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness… It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

Sometimes we are tempted to find excuses and complain, acting as if we could only be happy if a thousand conditions were met. To some extent this is because our “technological society has succeeded in multiplying occasions of pleasure, yet has found it very difficult to engender joy.”

I can say that the most beautiful and natural expressions of joy which I have seen in my life were in poor people who had little to hold on to. I also think of the real joy shown by others who, even amid pressing professional obligations, were able to preserve, in detachment and simplicity, a heart full of faith. In their own way, all these instances of joy flow from the infinite love of God, who has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ.

Thanks solely to this encounter – or renewed encounter – with God’s love, which blossoms into an enriching friendship, we are liberated from our narrowness and self-absorption. We become fully human when we become more than human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest truth of our being. Here we find the source and inspiration of all our efforts at evangelization.

For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Francis I, Evangelli Gaudium