“Things cannot go on like this, everyone takes advantage, cheats, the abuses are systematic, insupportable and moreover no new perspective is foreseen.” We have often heard complaints like these.
To complain is easy, to propose a solution is harder. To deplore violations of rights, to draft official communications, to proclaim one’s own indignation can also be of some benefit, but many times complaints, especially when they are reduced to formal gestures and diplomatic declarations, remain a dead letter.
Someone gets carried away by an irrepressible irritation, resentment, revenge before an injustice and comes to perform some rash gestures. The use of violence has never yielded positive results, in fact it has always caused trouble, often irreparable.
There is another possible choice: disinterest. It’s the option of one who closes himself in his own small world. He avoids to get involved, even just emotionally, in others’ dramas, unless the political events have repercussion on his personal or family life.
What to do? The social, political, economic reality of the world challenges us. We cannot back out on it, estranged ourselves, observe it from the outside as idle spectators. But how to intervene? There is only one correct way: today’s Word of God suggests it.
To internalize the message, we repeat: “The Lord is merciful and gracious. He frees us from all sins and heals all diseases.”
To fall for someone in popular language is synonymous with falling in love. The momentum of love does not deny the rational, but goes beyond it, ranges over new horizons, soars towards a world of unexpected emotions.
Faith is a conscious decision. Jesus reminds those who wish to become his disciples: “Do you build a house without first sitting down to count the cost, to see whether you have enough to complete it?” (Lk 14:28). But it is also a complete and unconditional trust in God, a hovering towards him and therefore requires a detachment from this world and its logic. It is losing one’s head.
Francis of Assisi who, during the crusade, helplessly presents himself to the sultan is mocked and taken for mad by the crusaders. He was not crazy; he followed a different logic. He was in love with Christ and really believed in the Gospel.
In the language of the Old Testament losing the head is rendered with the image of the half-sleep or dream. During Adam’s sleep the woman is created (Gen 2:21); When the torpor falls on Abraham, the Lord comes to make a deal with him (today’s first reading); on the Mount of Transfiguration the three disciples contemplate the glory of the Lord when they are caught by sleep (today’s Gospel). It almost seems that the weakening or blunting of a person’s faculties is a prerequisite to the revelations and intervention of God. It is true: only he who loses his head for Christ can believe that dying for love leads to life.
To internalize the message, we repeat: “To the Lord I have committed my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
From the analysis of biblical texts a curious fact emerges: the wicked are never tempted by God; temptation is a privilege reserved for the righteous. Ben Sirach recommends to the disciple: “My son, prepare yourself for trials. Accept all that happens to you, be patient when you are humbled because those acceptable to God are tested in the crucible of humiliation” (Sir 2:1,4-5). Misfortunes and failures put to hard test the fidelity to the Lord, but also luck and success can be a trap for the faith.
The temptation offers the opportunity to make a leap forward, to improve, purify and consolidate the choices of faith. It also involves the risk of error: “For the fascination of evil obscures true values—says the author of the Book of Wisdom—and restless desires undermine a simple heart” (Wis 4:12). Temptation is not a provocation to evil, but a stimulus to growth, a necessary step to reach maturity.
Paul assures: “God is faithful and will not let you be tempted beyond your strength. He will give you, together with temptation, the strength to escape and to resist” (1 Cor 10:13).
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds of another consoling truth: Jesus experienced our own temptations, so “he is not indifferent to our weaknesses. Having been tested through suffering, he is able to help those who are tested” (Heb 4:15; 2:18).
To internalize the message, we repeat: “Lord, we do not ask you to spare us from difficulties and temptations, but to get out of them matured.”
“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week…” (Mt 28:1). This is how the story of the manifestations of the Risen One on the day of Easter starts. That is why the Christians chose to celebrate their weekly feast, not on Saturday like the Jews, but on the following day which the Romans called “the day of the sun.” It was soon changed to the day of the Lord. They gathered “to break bread” (Acts 20:6-12) and to offer to the needy brethren what they were able to save throughout the week (1 Cor 16:2; 2 Cor 8:9).
The early Church did not celebrate Christmas day or feasts in honor of our Lady, or any other for that matter. There was only the weekly celebration of the Lord’s resurrection. This went on for the first few decades of the Church. The Christians felt the need to celebrate the central event of their faith in a special way. So the first of the feasts, Easter, considered the Sunday of the Sundays, the Feast of Feasts, was born. It was like the queen of all feasts, of all Sundays, of all the days of the year.
By the start of the second century it was celebrated by all Christian communities. The celebration culminated in the night assembly of prayer which concluded with the Eucharistic celebration. The Christians attached importance to attendance at this feast. A famous Christian writer of the time, Tertullian, speaking of the difficulties that a Christian girl would encounter if she were to marry a pagan boy, says: “Will her husband allow her out the night of the Easter Vigil?”