The fraternal wisdom of our words

Tags: crisis, hope, mercy, reign of god, solidarity

In the midst of a world wracked by fear and hopelessness, our words and actions as Christians are called to bear the burden of being testimonials. As prophetic provocation, they must also bear the message of hope and the possibility of a global future in which people of good will struggle for reconciliation among all cultures and religions of our world. Today, many people desperately bewail like Qohelet: «Vanity of vanities, all is vanity» (Qo 1:2). This is a clamor that as Christians we are called to heed and, amid these cries, to strive for a true, authentic, honest serenity on the wings of new signs that give hope to our brothers and sisters.

Bitterness and fear about the future, apathy toward cultural enrichment and professionalization, the increasing elements of dehumanization through continual political and ideological discrimination, and the de-structuring of institutions and democracy in many countries, all cry out for and demand urgent attention from the  community of followers of the Christ (Acts 11: 26ff), even while recognizing that the lives of so many believers have been endangered when they confessed him to be their only Lord amid so many of the other lords and powerful masters of this world.

We can't permit ourselves to be defeated by the lament that bemoans: «Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun» (Qo 2: 20). Our words must learn, amid sweat and tears, to bear the complaints of the many inhabitants of this world; they must learn to be the voice and the historical mediators of our poorest and most forgotten brothers and sisters, so that our reality can begin to recognize that there are indeed signs in our times that express a true longing for the restoration of authentic fraternity in our society, and hence still inspire genuine hope in our future. We hope that we need not shout one day: «What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?» (Qo 1:3). Instead, we are all called to assume the burden of our current history and thus be able to measure the height of our humanity by the truthfulness of our daily brotherly service, given as much with our lives as with our words.

The believers' faith is neither abstract nor generic, and even less can it be conforming and servile. As stated in the Vatican II encyclical Gaudium et Spes, our «faith illumines everything with a new light and manifests the divine purpose about man's integral vocation, directing intelligence thus towards fully human solutions» (GS 11), that is, solutions that are truly fraternal.

We can't acquiesce to what German writer Max Picard sj referred to during the times of national socialism as Zusammenhangslosigkeit―a loss of our ability to relate to the irrational events that occur in society as a result of the ideologization of reality that turns faith into something merely instrumental and accommodating, rather than constitutive and counter-cultural. Can it be that hidden behind the fear of making our voices heard is the loss of our capacity to question the absurdity of the situations that arise around us, accepting them in the end as normal or as necessary evils? In the background lurks the latent danger of falling into an apathetic de-humanization that eventually results in an unfortunate incapacity to discern in a Christian way the sociopolitical, economic and religious methods being practiced by the powers established in the day-to-day life of our peoples.

What a great responsibility every human subject has in this world. Of what immense value are our lives and the words that we can use―even in trembling and humility―in this history. If our words learn to carry the air of prophecy and wisdom, we'll discover that only from love can we demand an urgent restoration in our societies of the many fractured relationships that suffocate and torment our lives. Only from love is it possible to experience authentic fraternal reconciliation. Only from love can we become new signs of authentic hope in the midst of our society.

by Rafael Luciani



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