We need more citizens and Christians who are ready to inhabit this world with freedom, embrace it with the compassion and the care for others demonstrated by Jesus, always with an inner joy in spite of the insecurity and fears, Christians are asked to love their own time and imitate God who loved the world and gave Himself up for it.
A stylized human being, with an affectionate grin on his face, embraces a globe. On the globe there are bleeding wounds corresponding to places such as Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Congo, Myanmar, Libya and many others. We have seen this image on the cover of a children’s book; in its simplicity, it conveys an important message: we all need to love this world, in spite of the many ugly conflicts that are defacing it.
The temptation to run away from the world is always strong. To condemn is easy, too easy. Perusing a daily paper can confront us with a litany of horrors. Somewhere in the world, there is always a war that is about to break out, defenceless children who are exploited for labour or for sex, the poor and weak who have to endure violence, overbearing and arrogant politicians who, with selfish lack of concern for others, impose their will.
Nevertheless, the first thing asked of us Christians is that we love our own time. God has become human and loves the world. We do not have to indulge in shallow day-dreaming of a peace which does not stem from the Cross. We must re-discover the responsibility, the pain and joy of being alive in our time, and the radical demands for renewal coming from the present. What is it that the Lord asks of me today? What do my brothers and sisters expect today? These are the right questions.
We should not try to escape from the present with the excuse that we are living in difficult times, full of insecurity and dangers. Anyone who is incapable of risking his own human security has not yet learnt to be a Christian. We have to re-discover the irreplaceable joy of fully living in this time, the only time that God has given me.
We do not belong to the world, yet we are meant to love the world. God did not send forth His Son into the world to condemn it, but so that the world may be saved through Him (John 3: 17). God does not judge, does not condemn, does not destroy; God saves and loves. Jesus is His messenger, announcing the news yes, difficult to believe! That God loves this world full of evil and contradiction, and God wants to save it, not by fire and brimstone, like in the Old Testament, but in a gentle process of love and self-sacrifice. Jesus is not only the messenger, but the example: He allows the
God has shown new attitudes, accepting sinners in His presence, talking with them, in order to create a climate of human sharing that is indispensable to understand oneself and then to overcome shortcomings that otherwise would be insurmountable. Jesus entered into a relationship with everybody without asking for preventive purification. Conversion, in His case, was happening later, urged by His unconditional acceptance. Acceptance is the only attitude able to remove fears, blockages, make the position of others understandable and dismantle ones defensive positions. Certainly, Jesus did not agree to water down his message, but His approach started with an extended hand and a smile of understanding.
We need more citizens and Christians who are ready to inhabit this world with freedom, embrace it with the compassion and the care for others demonstrated by Jesus, always with an inner joy; able to build a society where nobody is marginalized, left behind, forgotten, or uncared for; a world where there are less condemnations and more love or, to use the words of a Russian poet, a world where My bread is a material issue, the bread for my neighbour is a spiritual issue.