EXPERIENCING GOD BY LOVING
The feast of All Saints and the remembrance of our dead that we have recently celebrated help us look to the future with hope and to re-centre in God the Father our every thought and decision, finding peace and joy despite the difficulties, pain and hardships of our wounded world.
We all have before our eyes the recent images of pain and violence from Palestine, and those to which we have perhaps become sadly accustomed like the war in Ukraine and the many conflicts that stain and disgrace our world with blood. Dismayed, we question ourselves on the meaning of so much suffering and feel powerless, weak, perhaps guilty in our own small way of having contributed with our choices, our mistakes, our fragility to ruining the project so beautiful that the good God has for us and for our world.
Card. Pizzaballa, at the dawn of the serious events that have again shaken Palestine, invited all God's people to prayer, writing: “Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord truly grant us his peace! The pain and dismay at what is happening is great. We have suddenly been catapulted into a sea of unprecedented violence [...] Everything seems to speak of death. But in this moment of pain and dismay we do not want to remain helpless. And we cannot let death and its stings be the only word to be heard. That is why we feel the need to pray, to turn our hearts to God our Father.
Awaiting the encounter with Him, this is the centre of our prayer.”
Pope Francis writes (cf. homily 2 November 2022):
“We all live in expectation, in the hope of hearing Jesus' words addressed to us one day: ‘Come, you blessed of my Father' (Mt: 25, 34). We are in the waiting room of the world to enter heaven, to take part in that ‘banquet for all people’ of which the prophet Isaiah spoke to us (cf. 25, 6). He says something that warms our hearts because he will bring to fulfilment precisely our greatest expectations: the Lord will ‘abolish death forever’ and ‘wipe away the tears on every face’ (v. 8). Brothers and sisters, let us nourish our longing for heaven. It is good to ask ourselves today whether our desires have anything to do with Heaven. For, we are in danger of continually aspiring to things that pass, of confusing desires with needs, of putting the expectations of the world before the expectation of God.”
A prayerful expectation for us Christians is not to remain helpless, insensitive or heedless of the events of the world. Neither can we be crushed and oppressed by the world and its fragility. We need to be vigilant and ready, trusting and serene. But then in the face of sad and shocking events, what are we to do? In waiting for tomorrow, what are we to do? Again, Pope Francis commenting on chapter 25 of Mathew underlines:
“As we wait for tomorrow, the Gospel helps us [...]. There is great surprise every time we listen to chapter 25 of Matthew. It is similar to that of the protagonists who say: ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we ever see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and come to visit you?’ (vv. 37-39). When did we ever? Thus is expressed the surprise of all, the astonishment of the righteous and the dismay of the unrighteous.”
The only head of merit and accusation is mercy towards the poor and the discarded: "Whatever you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did to me", Jesus judges (v. 40). The Most High seems to dwell in the least of these. He who dwells in the heavens, dwells among the most insignificant to the world. [...] . So, to prepare ourselves, we know what to do: to love gratuitously and without waiting for reciprocation, those who are on his list of preferences, those who cannot give us anything back, those who do not attract us, those who serve the least.
When does this happen? Both the righteous and the unrighteous ask themselves, surprised. The answer is only one: the when is now, today. It is in our hands, in our works of mercy: not in polished points and analysis, not in individual or social justifications. In our hands, and we are responsible.
The Gospel explains how to live the waiting: we go to meet God by loving because He is love. And, on the day of our farewell, the surprise will be happiness if we now allow ourselves to be surprised by the presence of God, who is waiting for us among the poor and wounded of the world. Let us not be afraid of this surprise: let us go forward in the things that the Gospel tells us, to be judged righteous in the end. God is waiting to be caressed not with words, but with deeds.
The wish for us, the ADMA family, is then to live in our daily lives, like Mary, readiness and solicitude towards the weakest. That, like Mary, we may love in our daily lives in order to go towards God, certain that every gesture of love lived in the family, in the community, in our groups, in the workplace is a caress which - in God the Father - reaches today even the most distant and the most suffering.
Renato Valera, ADMA Valdocco President.
Alejandro Guevara, Spiritual Animator ADMA Valdocco.