THE CHURCH IS A PLACE OF HOPE
VATICAN CITY, 15 MAY 2010 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Pope to participants in the "Kirchentag", an ecumenical event being celebrated in Munich, Germany, from 12 to 16 May in the presence of Christians from various denominations, and followers of other religions.
Referring to the theme of the event - "that you may have hope" - the Holy Father highlights how "over recent months we have repeatedly had to absorb news that seeks to extract the joy from the Church, casting a shadow over her as a place of hope".
"Today, if we pay close attention, if we do not perceive only the darkness but also what is light and good in our time, we see how faith makes men and women pure and generous, and educates them to love", he writes. "Weeds exist also in the bosom of the Church and among those whom the Lord has called to His special service. But the light of God has not gone out, the good wheat has not been choked by the weeds of evil".
"Is the Church, then, a place of hope?", the Pope asked. "Yes", he said, "because from her the Word of God comes ever and anew, purifying us and showing us the path of faith. She is a place of hope because in her the Lord continues to give Himself to us in the grace of the Sacraments, in the words of reconciliation, in the multiple gifts of His consolation. Nothing can darken or destroy all this, and so we should be glad amidst all the tribulations.
"To speak of the Church as a place of hope that comes from God", he adds, "involves an examination of conscience. What must I do with the hope the Lord has given us? Do I really allow myself to be moulded by His Word? What weeds grow in me? Am I willing to uproot them? Am I grateful for forgiveness and ready, in my turn, to forgive and to heal rather than to condemn?"
The Pope explains how "we ourselves cannot achieve the greatest things (friendship, love, joy and happiness), they come to us only as a gift. ... Today almost no-one speaks of eternal life which, in the past, was the true object of hope. Since people no longer dare believe in it, they must hope to obtain everything in this life. Setting aside hope in eternal life leads to greed for life here and now, which almost inevitably becomes selfish and, in the end, unattainable. Precisely when we want to take possession of life as a kind of treasure it escapes us".
[Blogger Comment: That perspective--maximize what you can possess and experience--is the de facto, unconscious basis of the lives of many, including many believers. It is hard to escape that perspective of furiously getting more and experiencing more because, in the face of our encroaching mortality, we and the rest of society reflexively react with a ferocious busyness and avarice for more of this or more of that. This mode of more and more is actually a symptom of despair. ]
"God is alive. God loves us. In Jesus Christ He became one of us. I can address Him and He listens to me. For this reason, like Peter, in the confusion of our own times which encourage us to believe in many other paths, we say to Him: 'Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God'".
In closing his Message, the Holy Father expresses the hope that everyone at the Munich meeting "may be overcome with the joy of being able to know God, to know Christ. ... This is our hope and our joy in the midst of the confusion of the present".