April 13, 2018

Be Our Guest / Gary Taylor

Are we about the resurrection?

Reflecting on Pope Francis’ words and teachings, I offer the following:

Almighty omnipotent Father, help “strip us of the arrogance” of the unrepentant criminal that was next to Jesus at his crucifixion, and to become more like the “good thief” who was filled with shame, repentance and hope when he gazed upon Jesus.

Pope Francis calls us to feel ashamed and repentant for so many sins in the world fractured by divisions and wars. He calls us to reawaken shame for:

having abandoned God or mocked him when things got difficult;

choosing power, appearances and money over God;

having many people, even some clergy, who let themselves be misled by ambition and vainglory;

leaving younger generations a world broken by divisions and wars, a world devoured by selfishness where the young, the least, the ill and the elderly are marginalized;

a love that is no longer a gift of self but only the possession, often violent and tyrannical, of another;

being devoured by egotism in which the young, the sick, and the old are marginalized by our allowing abortion and euthanasia to dominate over life.

There is a world out there that has nothing to do with God’s plan, the pope said. It is a world that has come “under the dominion of Satan and sin,” and plays a “decisive role in public opinion,” which is then spread in infinite ways.

These mistaken ways are then seen as “the norm” so that when people “act, think or speak against this spirit [it] is regarded as nonsensical or even as wrong and criminal.”

Repentance comes from recognizing one’s “nothingness” and knowing with certainty that only Jesus can save us from evil, only Jesus can heal us from our leprosy of hatred, selfishness, pride, greed, revenge, cowardice and idolatry.

Jesus on the cross is an example of giving himself for others carried to the extreme, and Christians are called to be courageous in going against the current cultural stream of selfishness and the crowd that chases worldly things.

For the faithless and those without hope, a wasteland of darkness is returning. At every turn, the hardened hearts make attempts to discredit the Church.

Only good can win over evil. Only forgiveness can conquer rancor and revenge.

Only a fraternal embrace can dissolve hostility and fear of the other.

Pope Francis calls us to challenge humanity’s “sleeping conscience” by risking our lives to serve others, including immigrants and the exploited.

(Gary Taylor is a member of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Milan.)

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