ConAltriOcchi blog – 以不同的眼光看世界-博客

"C'è un solo modo di vedere le cose finché qualcuno non ci mostra come guardare con altri occhi" – "There is only one way to see things, until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes" (Picasso) – "人观察事物的方式只有一种,除非有人让我们学会怎样以不同的眼光看世界" (毕加索)


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Ever more rich ever more poor

Fr. Francesco Pesce

The British NGO Oxfam has recently published a new report on global wealth on the eve of the World Economic Forum taking place in Davos in the presence of many top world economists and politicians. «Reward work not wealth», is the title of the report using data prepared by Credit Suisse based on the latest information on the nouveau riche in China, Russia and India. The wealthiest 1% of the world population owns as much as the remaining 99% and their wealth continues to grow. Every day the arrival of a new billionaire is registered.

As Christians we have the duty, not only to give good witness but to speak out clearly. Riches are not the end the means in the hands of men; they have often become an iniquitous instrument because man has used wealth to dominate other men and subject entire populations to the power of the privileged few. We have even reached, in our history, the planned and calculated extermination of the poor, as the prophet Amos reminds us. Thanks to God the cultural progress of populations is increasing awareness about the need for a more equal distribution of global. Some international organizations and some of the more developed nations are fighting for new social equilibria but the battle is still a long and difficult one. Jesus invited his disciples to be “shrewd” in managing wealth. He asks each one of us to have a different relationship with riches both on an individual and community level. Indeed, it is for this reason that a personal charitable gesture is not enough, we must act to ensure that wealth becomes an instrument of liberation and reconciliation among peoples. This is the substance of the Gospel which is by its very nature a social reality. History teaches us that many have become estranged from the Church and the Faith because they have been shown a bad example in the use of money and wealth.   We have witnessed during the past years as Christians and citizens of the world two important facts. Pope Francis is showing us the concrete possibility of a poor Church for the poor; he is an extraordinary gift from the Lord, an example encouraging new conversion. Moreover, at the same time we are witnessing the fact that many poor people are – we could state it like this – going back to the Gospel, often hidden to them behind words of circumstance and humiliating charity. The poor today are aware that the Gospel is first and foremost for them and they are no longer willing to wait for their rights and their dignity. We have read and meditated carefully in this regard on the prophetical words of Father Mazzolari, a poor priest among the poor:”I have never counted the poor because the poor cannot be counted; the poor must be embraced, not counted. And yet there are those who keep statistics of the poor and are afraid of them; afraid of their patience which could also tire, afraid of their silence which could erupt into a scream, afraid of their complaints which could become a song, afraid of their rags which could become a flag, afraid of their tools which could become a barricade”. I believe this is already happening.

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Great care for the family 

In  a “Motu Proprio” issued on 8th September and published yesterday, Pope Francis re-founded the Institute for Marriage and Family set up by Saint John Paul II.

The title of this pontifical document is “Summa Familiae Curaˮ (Great Care for the Family) and right at the start recalls the steps taken by the Church after the Bishops’ Synod in 1980 and the Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (On the Christian Family in the Modern World) promulgated in 1981, which gave a more definite form to the Pontifical Institute at the Lateran University.

Today, after two Synods on the family in 2014 and 2015 and after the publication of the Exhortation Amoris laetitia (The Joy of Love), the Church has reached, says Pope Francis «a renewed awareness of the Gospel of the family and the new pastoral challenges to which the Christian Community is called to respond».

On reading the Pope’s document, the great importance of this text and the centrality of the pastoral perspective do not escape us. The Pope talks of an indispensable requirement in his reflections on the family, saying that: “also at the level of academic formation the pastoral perspective and attention to the wounds of humanity must never be lacking”. We do:« well to focus on the concrete reality of the family», given the «anthropological-cultural changes that today influence all aspects of life and require a diversified and analytical approach» and «do not permit us to limit ourselves to pastoral and missionary practice that reflects forms and models of the past ».

A new way of looking at the reality of the family; looking with the eyes of the Spirit, looking with the eyes of the Church as a mother and not just a teacher.

The academic work of the Pontifical Institute, too, is broadening its horizons” both in relation to the new dimensions of the pastoral task and ecclesial mission and with reference to the developments in human sciences and anthropological culture in such a fundamental field for the culture of life».

No-one can question the beauty of the family as announced by the Church. This “Christian” family has contributed much to the good of society and the history of humanity. Now we are seeing that the institutions are creaking, that what once were our certainties and our ties are wavering, and these same sentiments are seeking new forms of expression. Where and how does the Christian family fit in to all this transformation? The foundations of the Christian family are not written on the stone tables of the law, but as Jesus said, the law of the Spirit is written on the “tables of our hearts”. For this reason, above all today, with the strength of the Spirit the Christian family can be an efficient witness to the beauty, the nobleness and profundity of its vocation. With all this in mind, let us now ask ourselves a question: Christian family, what can you tell us about yourself? Allow us to see the beauty and originality of your calling, let us feel the presence of the Lord in your midst. This is almost a silent appeal that the world is making to the Church. The problem is that often it is the Christian families who have lost the “taste of the salt”, they are no longer the “yeast” in the flour of history, no longer the light which illuminates the path. The birth rate in our Western World, the cradle of Christianity, is close to zero and this must make us all think deeply.

Pope Francis is once again is widening our outlook and reforming, rather re-founding an institute which, for a long time, was entrenched in principles often far from reality and refused any change. The Theological Institute will have: «the power to confer iure proprio on its students the following academic degrees: the Doctorate in Matrimonial and Family Sciences, the Master’s Degree in Matrimonial and Family Sciences and the Diploma in Marriage and Family Sciences».

 


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Eucharist bread for all

 

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes”

The earliest text on the Eucharist – the Letter to the Corinthians (53/57) – speaks to us about the fact that the Eucharist is in connection with the death of Jesus. The Lord is dead delivering himself and allowing himself to be taken from his enemies. Celebrate the Eucharist wants to teach us how to live. We hate to lives by giving ourself  as did Jesus and as also did the apostles. A Church that thinks to defend itself, is no longer a church.

It is the Gospel to live by delivery and it is the path to be fulfilled to have eternal life. We celebrate the Eucharist “as long as he comes”, waiting for him to return, believing that death has not defeated him, because those who live by giving for love have a stronger life than death.

The Eucharist is a way of life, not a rite. We are all very concerned at the risk of reducing the Eucharist to a private, intimate devotion, as if everything could be resolved in the exclusive relationship between myself and the Lord, closed to others and history. There are two current dangers in this regard.

In the book of Deuteronomy, we see the danger of nostalgia of other times: the people with the hard cervix resists the Spirit. Even today we have some people like that, resent the times of tranquility and of triumphant church, when the churches were full, and the lavish liturgies, the imposing ostensors to “suffocate” the fragility of the Sacred Ostia; Times which were, however, of injustice, of power, of money, of clericalism, where Christ was not there.

The danger of spiritualism And the bread that I will give is my flesh.God’s life is not outside of human reality. There can be no gift of the Spirit where there is also the gift of the flesh. Jesus specifically says in chapter 6 of the Gospel of John: “Whoever meats my flesh.” The chewing verb in Greek is very strong and means “shredding, shattering”. The Gospel is not an ideal, but the concordance of bread and flesh.

imageLuke’s Gospel in the tale of the multiplication of loaves and fish also offers us a very important indication

Everyone ate and satiated, and twelve baskets were carried out of their advanced parts.

There is no one who, coming to the banquet of the Messiah, is forced to return to fast. Indeed, there are loaves that are reserved to those who are left out of the canteen. We think, and pray, for all Christians living in a state of persecution, and can not celebrate the Eucharist; Pray for those who can not approach the sacraments and await the mercy of the Lord and the Church, not the hardness of the law; We pray for churches on mission land, where the priest arrives once a month; Pray for all those who have never met who the Lord, and also for those who have gone away for our fault and our contradictions. Let us pray because at the table to which Jesus wanted to sit, there really is a place for everyone, and no one is excluded, no one is missing; Perhaps then that will be the day he will return.

 


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A light on our weakness

Thoughts on the II Sunday of Lent 

The First Reading on the second Sunday of Lent  from the Book of Genesis talks about the vocation of Abraham, called upon to set out trusting solely in the Word of God.  We, too, like Abraham are called upon to leave our land. We are at an historic time when crossing the land from the old to the new world has become vital.  Our Western land, our Europe of the cathedrals, is under siege by millions of people seeking dignity and safety. It is not rhetoric to affirm that a new world is being formed.  A Church that still wanted to stay closed up in Noah’s Ark during the deluge, i.e. an Eurocentric Church strong only in its own certainties and traditions, would simply be out of step with the times.  Even worse it would be shut off from the pain of the world.  This pain of the world is illuminated by the light of Jesus which today in Chapter 17 of the Gospel according to Matthew  unveils, for an instant, His Glory.

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Following in Jesus’ footsteps, all Christians are called upon to share the faith in that common territory, among all the latitudes, among all believers and non-believers, that is suffering.  «Jesus alone» in the Transfiguration, which ends with the anticipation of Easter, is only a man among other men.  But it is in that “weak” Jesus, tempted just like us by everything, lives the Glory of God. In Jesus alone and abandoned by everybody, God reveals His Glory and tells men and women that weakness is the home of God.

This is why we must pursue our Lenten journey with trust and confidence in God; life’s hardships do not diminish our Easter momentum because the Lord lights them with His glory and asks us to always know how to recognize His saving presence both in and outside us.

“It is good”, says Peter to Jesus.  Let us start anew from goodness;  even if life is not always easy, it can always be happy if we live it with Jesus, if we know how to understand ourselves and others better with a compassionate eye.

The many things we have to do, preoccupations, the  “noises of the world” often prevent us from listening to the tiny whispering sound by which God makes his presence known. (1 Kings 19,12).

To live a good and aware Christian life requires us to listen to the voice of God within and among us.  God moves our lives, he takes care of us. Nobody is excluded, nobody is left out.


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Pope Francis, true witness of the Joy of the Gospel

22nd February, the Church is celebrating the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. The Chair marks the primatial role of Peter in the Apostolic College  when Jesus assigned him the task of  “feeding” his flock. Today, on this Chair sits Pope Francis and it is shining with a special light, allowing us to catch sight of the holy Spirit at work in the Church.

Evangelii Gaudium, Laudato Si’ e Amoris Laetitia.   Joy, Praise, Delight. The very names of the documents of the Pope’s teaching  enable us to understand clearly the faith in God and trust in men which live in Francis’s priestly heart.  Biblical joy erupts powerfully:  “I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” A joy which came into the world and is not reserved only for an exclusive club.

Those who speak always and only of  “doctrine” are sad Christians and cannot be good witnesses of the Gospel which, in regard to witnesses, speaks thus of John:” the disciple beloved of Jesus”. The disciples must be taught first and foremost with love, by loving them, welcoming them just as they are,  walking along a stretch of road with them, “infecting them” with a coherent testimony of Christian life.

If we don’t: “stop seeking those personal or communal niches which enable us to maintain a distance from the issue of human drama”(AL) we will be unable to understand the “drama” of the Kerygma;  the Kerygma isn’t doctrine but drama. Announcing the Gospel without personal involvement is not only a useless illusion, it is also counterproductive.  Without the odour of his sheep, the Shepherd is no longer a shepherd and becomes a wolf, smelling only of incense and ink and no longer has the shepherd’s dirty garments but robes of Constantinian memory and so the sheep flee from Him.

«No one has seen God at any time but the one and only Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared him». Unless he is the God who makes himself known through the Word Incarnate of the Son of Man, this God is not the Christian God but a mere concept or even an ideological instrument who says nothing to our hearts.  God’s people need Shepherds who warm their hearts not Instructions for Use. After all,  warm hearts are like clay, more malleable and gradually masterpieces emerge; hearts full of instructions for use are beautiful on the outside but do not beat within and cannot be shaped in any way whatsoever.

At times not only do we not want to make the effort to get to know the God of Jesus Christ, but often not even Man; man is a mixture of mud and Spirit. The mud is an important thing; it is the sweat we see every day in our streets;  it is the blood that so many families spill to reach the end of the month with dignity; it is the “marvellous complexity” of life. The Spirit needs this mud, the Church needs it, we all need it; in order never to forget that All is Grace.

“But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God”.  In a certain sense, we are not born Sons of God but become them; we become them by welcoming Jesus and imitating his life of love, which are the beatitudes.  We also gradually become a family; and when we are unable to for many reasons, the people remain, forever, the image and likeness of God.

Often we waste too much energy fighting evil; “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it”. To receive the love of God and then manifest it immediately to those we meet, simply, with joy and unconditionally, like a secret of the heart. To love unconditionally.  Many times in the countryside, we have seen the light expanding gradually at dawn and the darkness fleeing from the sunlight. It is only light which overcomes the darkness, because it overpowers it, the law can sanction it but no more than that.

The Magisterium of Pope Francis is a “perilous” light; it is enough to go to a parish and talk to the people to experience how people feel respected, loved and encouraged by His words and His example.  We can almost feel the fatherhood and motherhood of the Church physically.

A testimony, that of Pope Francis, of life, fidelity to the Gospel and to the Tradition of the Church (not to the precepts of men). A faith which is coherent with honesty, sobriety, justice and charity and which knows how to transmit the joy of meeting the Resurrected Christ to the new generations.

The Spirit summons us to an original and ever new identity to which we must abandon ourselves with faith.  The Spirit tells us that Jesus Christ isn’t the guardian of the fort,  he’s not a point of reference of the past, he is not a footrest for every egotism, even ecclesial, but a guarantee for the future.

We know very well that there is no future without memory of the past. Our memory, however, cannot exist of professions of faith proclaimed with a sword in hand, with the tendency to exclude the weakest. The unity of the Church cannot be maintained by a criterion of egotism and the desire to raise barriers, by widening the “the walls of Jericho” even more.

The language of Christianity is a universal language; it is a language of unity but not uniformity; The Spirit teaches us to speak this universal language every day of our lives.


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There are no enemies

Often our system, in order to continue standing, has to identify an enemy, it has to create one.  This is also true in children’s education.  Many of us in Italy will remember when our grandparents used the term “Austrian” in a derogatory manner: if you don’t behave properly I’ll call the Austrians, they used to say. Later we referred to “the Communists” and today, perhaps, the “Muslims.

One of the first teachings of the Gospel is that of the idea of the enemy: there are no enemies, there are men.  Even the Church has enemies – we have been taught – and therefore we must defend it from relativism, subjectivism, laicism etcetera, but Jesus never defended himself; and similarly neither did Peter and Paul. There is an entire history of enemies we have fought against while evil was in our midst: power, money, fear of losing our dominant position.

Thus, when Jesus says “«whosoever smiteth thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also»”, he is telling us to go beyond the enemy.  In the Gospel according to St. John, Jesus was slapped but he rendered it ineffective: “if I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?”

Jesus is asking us not to return violence for violence otherwise this will grow and turn into an interminable crescendo.

The logic of offering the other cheek, being stripped of one’s garments and dragged before the tribunal means recognizing violence, giving it a name and  “fighting it” like the sun conquers  the darkness which is gradually overcome by the expanding light.

We must begin to live this change by modifying the private spaces of our responsibility. Only men of the Beatitudes can build peace and integrate naturally into the great peace processes of history.  The powerful, the privileged, the lobbies will always be foreign bodies in the peace process and become, almost without realizing it, allies of war.

When I want to qualify nonviolence, I say justice, respect of diversity, peace, the common good.  I say the Beatitudes, words which give multiple names to this single truth of which Jesus was the first witness. Jesus is the witness of nonviolence, this nonviolence of the many names which are the beatitudes.

When someone has authority, a company, a position of leadership, or when a country owns resources, they should not defend them by the sword. Jesus said to Pilate: if my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight. To fight with the sword is to kill, it is the violence which creates only defeats and no victors. In fact, our history is a river of blood spilt in the name of the principle that without a sword a kingdom cannot go on existing.  This is why we are always at war. «Put your sword back in its  place» said Jesus to Peter, otherwise right will always be with the strongest, the most violent, the cruellest and the best armed.

We must go back to the radical teaching of the Gospel, as St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Corinthians.  The Corinthians criticized  Paul for his simplicity in announcing the Gospel not at their level of knowledge and culture. Paul answered by comparing the announcement of the Gospel to a building: the builders will be judged by whether they have placed Jesus Christ as the cornerstone,  not by their highly cultural discourses but empty of spiritual content. Let us make the crucifix the foundation of our life and not an aggressive tool of civil religion.

 

 


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Replenish the Water of Baptism with a Word of Justice

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord which concludes the Christmas period helps us to reflect on the profound sense of our baptism. Today, thanks to the Holy Spirit and Pope Francis, we find ourselves in the midst of a crisis, a crisis which does us a lot of good. We are passing from belonging to a Church of a sacred nature, in which the sacraments are like military ranks, that is they mark your level of belonging (from baptism onwards), to  a messianic vision of the Church, built on Jesus the servant of  man.This providential crisis is the reason why we must rethink the form, language and access times of the sacraments. For example, more room should be given to the Word of God in the liturgy of the sacraments.  If I pour a bit of water on the head of a child while I baptize him or her, I am performing a simple act;but if I say “I baptize you in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”, this is the Word of God which lets you be born again; we really must give the Word back to the water, to the oil, to the bread. Otherwise we risk becomingsacramentalized, listed in a dusty old register in the Sacristy.

To be baptized means to be sent forth; it means Church on the Move. To be baptized means to profess faith in Jesus and state publiclyI wish to live like Him, doing goodand freeing all men and women from slavery. Peter’s words in this regard are of paramount importance:” Of atruth I perceive that Godis no respecter of persons but accepts from every nation he who fears him and does what is right ”(Acts 10,34).

First of all we must realize that whoever loves justice is in the heart of God, he is already one of us marching towards the completeness which is the act of faith. The distinctions between near and far, believers and non-believers, come later, they are important but they all come later,  not only later, but they must remain within this common human solidarity; we must be men among men like Jesus who put himself in line with other men and certainly not in the first row.   Thus the Lord will say to each one of us:” You are my beloved son” not because we have performed sacred rites and marched in processions, but if we have done so while serving other men.

Jesus saw heaven open and the Spirit descending like a dove. Heaven opened say the Gospels. Asign of hope  for the world, heaven open forever, and not closed menacingly in any law or doctrine.  Let us ask the Lord for forgiveness for the times we have closed heaven in someone’s face imposing burdens which we do not even  touch with a finger, like Jesus said.

From this open heaven the Spirit comes like a dove, i.e.  the very life of God. It descends on you, loves you, stretches out its hand to you and will never leave you.  No obstacle, no difficulty, no human or superhuman force will prevent God from loving us forever.