Thursday, June 4, 2015

In facing reality, we're protagonists or nobodies

This morning I am aware of very many things, which sounds good, but such awareness is not really good for me. It usually causes me to be anxious and run the risk of falling, again, into depression. I remember gaining this kind of what I call "universal awareness" at about the age of 9. I don't mind saying that it results in a most unwelcome and exhausting struggle.

In the midst of my struggle this morning, which began early, I came across this on Facebook:



Given the incontrovertible truth of Malcolm Muggeridge's observation - "The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable reality but at the same time the most intellectually resisted fact" - I can't grasp believing in any religious or philosophical schema that does not provide some explanation for this human predisposition, what Francis Spufford, in his book Unapologetic, denoted as the HPtFTU (i.e., "Human Propensity to Fuck Things Up"), let alone in a religion, claiming to be Christian, that explicitly denies original sin.

Just before seeing Fr McCabe's meme, I prayed the Office of Readings (I prayed this office because one can pray it at any time during the day and I missed the window for Morning Prayer). The Scriptural reading for today was Job 11:1-20. This passage is a discourse by Zophar the Naamathite giving his "take" on Job's afflictions. Zophar's disquisition includes this: "An empty head will gain understanding, when a colt of a wild jackass is born human" (Job 11:12).

But what really resonated with me in light of McCabe's insight was the responsory to the reading from Job, taken from the fourth chapter of St Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians:
"We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body" (verses 8-10)
In light of the many things that prompted my anxiety today, it occurred to me that, as Christians, we have to face our difficult and painful cultural/societal/political situation in the West and elsewhere head-on. This means we need to stop acting defeated.

We're not defeated. The hope that comes from being a Christian, which can never arise from being merely a cultural Christian, is precisely that in Christ Jesus we are always, already victorious no matter what. We need to live in and engage from this perspective.



Evangelization is not some defensive, rear-guard action. If I am not mistaken, I think this the most urgent message Pope Francis is trying with all his might to convey. Let's face it, no matter what happens, we will never return to the status quo ante.

I have to say I would not be able to cope without what I have learned from Msgr Giussani and what I am reminded of and have reinforced by reading and re-reading what he wrote and said, along with following the charism given him, even if in my own, distant way. According to Don Gius our choice is clear: We're protagonists or we're nobodies. Our protagonism does not depend on living in circumstances that we find favorable. To engage reality according to all the factors that constitute it is always a provocation (Pro+vocaton= "for your call"). This is what Paul constantly emphasized in light of his lived experience.

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