Sermons

Summary: Ultimately, to get anything real accomplished, we must succumb to the will of God in joy.

Thursday of Fourth Week in Course 2016

Joy of the Gospel

Every human ruler, every human manager comes to office with wonderful plans for improvement in the domain of his rule. Just consider the political candidates for the presidency vying for our support: on one side we have candidates who spins dreams of utopian living in which everyone has enough by taxing the rich into poverty, and on the other we hear politicians who tell us that we can have so much economic growth that we can have enough for everyone, pay off all our government debt and live happily ever after. And both sides paint the other as agents of the devil. And both sides know that their visions will be dead on arrival in Washington. Did King David come to a similar realization toward the end of his forty years of rule? Did he foresee the ultimate misery and disaster that would befall his kingdom? Perhaps that’s the meaning of his psalms that tell us not to trust in princes.

The real solution to human problems is believing in and living the Gospel of Jesus. It is our task to bring everyone to that understanding. We live in such a way as to attract others to know the joy of the Gospel. The Holy Father has been speaking of peace, and now he gives us four principles by which we should understand our mission of peace. The first is that time is more important than space:

‘A constant tension exists between fullness and limitation. Fullness evokes the desire for complete possession, while limitation is a wall set before us. Broadly speaking, “time” has to do with fullness as an expression of the horizon which constantly opens before us, while each individual moment has to do with limitation as an expression of enclosure. People live poised between each individual moment and the greater, brighter horizon of the utopian future as the final cause which draws us to itself. Here we see a first principle for progress in building a people: time is greater than space.

‘This principle enables us to work slowly but surely, without being obsessed with immediate results. It helps us patiently to endure difficult and adverse situations, or inevitable changes in our plans. It invites us to accept the tension between fullness and limitation, and to give a priority to time. One of the faults which we occasionally observe in sociopolitical activity is that spaces and power are preferred to time and processes. Giving priority to space means madly attempting to keep everything together in the present, trying to possess all the spaces of power and of self-assertion; it is to crystallize processes and presume to hold them back. Giving priority to time means being concerned about initiating processes rather than possessing spaces. Time governs spaces, illumines them and makes them links in a constantly expanding chain, with no possibility of return. What we need, then, is to give priority to actions which generate new processes in society and engage other persons and groups who can develop them to the point where they bear fruit in significant historical events. Without anxiety, but with clear convictions and tenacity.

‘Sometimes [he says] I wonder if there are people in today’s world who are really concerned about generating processes of people-building, as opposed to obtaining immediate results which yield easy, quick short-term political gains, but do not enhance human fullness. History will perhaps judge the latter with the criterion set forth by Romano Guardini: “The only measure for properly evaluating an age is to ask to what extent it fosters the development and attainment of a full and authentically meaningful human existence, in accordance with the peculiar character and the capacities of that age.

‘This criterion also applies to evangelization, which calls for attention to the bigger picture, openness to suitable processes and concern for the long run. The Lord himself, during his earthly life, often warned his disciples that there were things they could not yet understand and that they would have to await the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 16:12-13). The parable of the weeds among the wheat (cf. Mt 13:24-30) graphically illustrates an important aspect of evangelization: the enemy can intrude upon the kingdom and sow harm, but ultimately he is defeated by the goodness of the wheat.’

In our Gospel we read that Jesus sent His disciples out, two by two, to preach the Gospel. But He was a realist. He knew that some would then, as they do now, look to selfishly fulfill their own plans rather than accept His plans. Many want quick results on their own terms, and will settle for nothing else. But it is true that man proposes and God disposes. Ultimately, like David, we realize that only by praying to God, “Thy will be done,” and acting accordingly can we make any real progress at all.

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