It is not news to anyone that we, as a country and as a world, are in trouble. The immorality we see around us; the abandonment of the Religious; the political order in disarray; our climate gone crazy; and violence, often random, have made us wonder if we can ever feel safe again. Then on top of this we have Covid and whatever else can develop biologically against us.
Yet, as Christians and specifically as Catholics, God is at work; and, because of that simple fact, we, as people of faith, can be filled with God’s peace because with God on our side (as St. Paul reminds us) who can be against us (Romans 8:31).
We are admonished in our Scriptures to be willing to give reasons to the world for this hope. We are not on our own to find the way through this bad news: we are guided by Christ, the Good Shepherd.
That is what this lonely lost world cannot understand. Even when things do not go our way, even when all seems dark and broken, a person of faith goes down into the depths of his or her being to find the meaning and the promise and the hope that comes from belief in God and in His providential care of all of us: that sense of being created and sustained by a love that is so much stronger than human love and more faithful and more fruitful which can raise a person out of the misery that we often find ourselves in, giving us new purpose and new hope.
As Jesus promised, it is like a river of living water that never stops flowing and that takes away the thirst of living a marginal material life (John 4). There is more than matter to reality because we matter to Him. (Please excuse the pun!)
The delights of this world, though wonderful, cannot slake the thirst of wanting and desiring and craving that turns our days into continual quests for fulfillment. There is a truth in one of the insights of Buddhism: desire is the cause of suffering. We are cast to-and-fro with all the desires that cause such unrest in our beings. We want, and when we get what we want then we want more; and the cycle continues.
To this endless cycle of misery, Christ says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God” (Matthew 5:3). To no longer be the slaves of desire, to be humble before the Lord and ask only that His will be done, is the landscape of freedom and the joy of the Christian life. It is the reason why we can face so many difficulties but still feel the peace that only God can give.
This is so difficult to communicate to anyone who has not made the surrender of faith, the submission to God and to His will, that to the world seems like a defeat and the worst thing imaginable. But once we believe and say “Thy will be done, Thy kingdom come”, everything falls into place and hope rises in our hearts, a hope that cannot articulate this vision of the mystery to which the person is now oriented and for which the person now lives. It is incomprehensible to the non-believer, but is the reason for our hope.
This is why I feel so alienated from much that parades as important in our culture, society, and media. The quest for the material as ultimate, the exaltation of the idol of the self that undergirds much of the writing in the media, the anti-religious perspective of the newscasts (both liberal and conservative), conspire to weave a web of lies and falsehood that makes me want to get far away from this so as to pray for everyone concerned.
How can we not pray for people who are so lost and who commit so many evils against the order of creation given to us by God? We are meant to be collaborators with God and not competitors.
Given all the wrong turns and the evasions and falsehoods that undergird modern life, it is not surprising to me anymore that we are making no progress toward healing the climate of the world, that killing unborn human life is seen as a positive right, that guns are easier to get than healthcare, that wars and injustice are a worldwide epidemic, that we inspire demagogues and dictators to be our leaders and build our political platforms on falsehoods and egocentric visions of fulfillment. When did the pursuit of happiness become an absolute?
I feel such gratitude to have been saved from this heartless and mindless kingdom of this world. I look forward to the future and say with true conviction: Thy Kingdom Come!