Wednesday, November 27, 2013

With open eyes

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
December 1, 2013

Matthew 24:37-44

The first Christian communities experienced very difficult years. Lost in the vast empire of Rome, in the midst of conflict and persecution, those Christians were seeking strength and encouragement by waiting for the prompt coming of Jesus and remembering his words: Keep watch. Stay awake. Have your eyes open. Be alert.

Do Jesus' calls to stay awake still mean anything for us? What is putting our hope in the living God with open eyes for Christians today? Will we let hope in God's final justice for that vast majority of innocent victims who suffer through no fault of their own, run out definitively in our secular world?

Indeed, the easiest way to distort Christian hope is to expect our eternal salvation from God while we turn our backs on the suffering there is in the world right now. Someday we will have to acknowledge our blindness before Christ the Judge: When did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and we didn't assist you? This will be our final dialogue with him if we live with eyes closed.

We are to wake up and open our eyes wide. Be vigilant to look beyond our narrow interests and concerns. The hope of Christians is not a blind attitude, because they never forget those who suffer. Christian spirituality is not just looking inward, because their hearts are attentive to those who are abandoned to their fate.

In the Christian communities, we are to take more and more care that our way of living out hope doesn't lead us to indifference or neglect of the poor. We can't isolate ourselves in religion so as not to hear the cry of those who die daily of hunger. We are not allowed to feed our illusion of innocence to defend our peace of mind.

Can a hope in God that forgets those who live on this earth without being able to hope for anything not be considered a religious version of optimism at all costs, lived without clarity or responsibility? Might not a search for one's own eternal salvation with back turned to the suffering be accused of being a subtle "selfishness extended into the beyond"?

Probably the little sensitivity to the immense suffering in the world is one of the most serious symptoms of the aging of Christianity today. When Pope Francis calls for a "poorer Church and for the poor," he is crying out his most important message to Christians in well-off countries.

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