Yesterday we left off with the encouragement for people to keep in mind Christ’s incarnation and the Paschal Mystery. What does that give us? The ability to penetrate a bit more deeply into the universe, and move from the sin of exploitation into a grace of deeper respect for all:
55. Faith, on the other hand, by revealing the love of God the Creator, enables us to respect nature all the more, and to discern in it a grammar written by the hand of God and a dwelling place entrusted to our protection and care. Faith also helps us to devise models of development which are based not simply on utility and profit, but consider creation as a gift for which we are all indebted; it teaches us to create just forms of government, in the realization that authority comes from God and is meant for the service of the common good. Faith likewise offers the possibility of forgiveness, which so often demands time and effort, patience and commitment. Forgiveness is possible once we discover that goodness is always prior to and more powerful than evil, and that the word with which God affirms our life is deeper than our every denial. From a purely anthropological standpoint, unity is superior to conflict; rather than avoiding conflict, we need to confront it in an effort to resolve and move beyond it, to make it a link in a chain, as part of a progress towards unity.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a synthesis that places respect for the environment, just government, and reconciliation so close.
I think that more than an anthropological principle, unity is also of biological benefit in the many ecological relationships that emphasize cooperation, symbiosis, and dependence.
When faith is weakened, the foundations of humanity also risk being weakened, as the poet T.S. Eliot warned:
“Do you need to be told that even those modest attainments
As you can boast in the way of polite society
Will hardly survive the Faith to which they owe their significance?”["Choruses from The Rock", in The Collected Poems and Plays 1909-1950, New York, 1980, 106]
If we remove faith in God from our cities, mutual trust would be weakened, we would remain united only by fear and our stability would be threatened. In the Letter to the Hebrews we read that “God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them” (Heb 11:16). Here the expression “is not ashamed” is associated with public acknowledgment. The intention is to say that God, by his concrete actions, makes a public avowal that he is present in our midst and that he desires to solidify every human relationship. Could it be the case, instead, that we are the ones who are ashamed to call God our God? That we are the ones who fail to confess him as such in our public life, who fail to propose the grandeur of the life in common which he makes possible? Faith illumines life and society. If it possesses a creative light for each new moment of history, it is because it sets every event in relationship to the origin and destiny of all things in the Father.
These are good questions for any believer. They should also be asked when we retreat to enclaves where it is easier to call God our God, rather than remain in our neighborhoods, marketplaces, civic halls, and the very boundaries of human society and be, perhaps, the lone voice of faith.
I also like that last sentence which speaks of faith bringing a creative light into history. Biological life is eminently adaptable. Darwinism might suggest that organisms adapt or go extinct. I think a posture of creativity is essential for illuminating the world. We don’t get it by repeating tired formulas or continuing with methods and programs that have faded in effectiveness.