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I compose and post these articles with only one desire in my heart: to praise God and to offer modest help on your spiritual journey.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Waiting Still

 I think that it was Mark Twain who said that if only 1/10 of the president's state of the union speech would be true, nobody would talk anymore about heaven.

Of course, opulence and comfort, can bring a distraction from the spiritual dimension of life, it can go so far as to lead to a complete ignorance of it; "manufactured" idols can occupy and darken totally the horizon of one's life.

When I was young, I used to travel a lot by train and that gave me the possibility to meet many people of different social status. Talking to them, I realized that richness was not always the reason why people were atheists or simply indifferent to believe in God and in an ultimate meaning of life. Poor people can also be atheists or refuse to believe in an afterlife, keeping their eyes sternly oriented only toward the material aspect of life. I often heard well to do people saying "I do not have time for that kind of a stuff!", showing a clear discomfort at the question, meaning that their current involvement into their business world and mundane life gave them all the fulfillment and satisfaction life can offer. I also heard people who were scraping for a living proclaiming "Oh, I don't know if there is anything else beyond what we have here anyway!" and they continued scornfully "I won't give the bird from my hand for the one on the fence!".

 Nevertheless, most people from both categories, believers or not, were expressing with a big sigh the hope that there is something beyond the confines of this earthly life that would bring them genuine completeness and meaning. In the soul of those people, I think, I detected a most profound expectation for something, for Someone, transcendent to give their life what was congenitally lacking. There is an innate existential desire, a longing in the human life that generally is expressed in the fact of waiting. I remember often seeing people waiting at their gates for the mail man to bring some letter from their beloved ones gone to fulfill their military services, or to some school or to work in a faraway city. I remember seeing people in the train stations or at the airport gates waiting impatiently for the arrival of someone they loved. There was in this waiting like a new ingredient had been added to their life, there was hope, there was joy. In fact, in moments of solitude, or distress, people realizing the temporality, the shortness, the fragility and the unpredictability of this life, they almost unsuspectedly begin to wait for the unimaginable, incomprehensible, transcendental element that will confer meaning to their life and save it from its absurd finitude.

Samuel Beckett, in his famous tragic comedy "Waiting for Godot" has very well illustrated the idea of "waiting". He presents a few people in the open air waiting for the arrival of Godot. In vivid scenes he presents the ridiculous, comic, "brutish, nasty, short, and ugly" face of this life, to quote Thomas Hobbes. A messenger boy arrives from time to time announcing that Godot will soon arrive, but the protagonists soon realize the that boy's message is circular and therefore they become disillusioned and want to commit suicide. However eventually, they decide to continue waiting. I believe in his play we can see the destiny of the human being which is "to wait". When nothing else appears on the horizon to give the ultimate meaning to human life, the act of waiting becomes the meaning to it.

I don't know if we can talk about a "sensus divinitatis", "a sense of deity", as Jean Calvin proposes, namely that the human brain is so wired as to look for God and find him as the senses find their object of their search, like a natural instinct, but I know that there is in every human heart an unquenchable thirst for God. It is a burning panting for God, so beautifully expressed by psalm 42:

"As the deer pants for streams of water,
         so my soul pants for you, my God.
             2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
         When can I go and meet with God?
            3 My tears have been my food
         day and night".

To use saint Augustine's expression "restless is the human heart until it meets God".

Judeo-Christians believe that god has already manifested himself in human history in various ways always demonstrating his intention to save, to redeem his creation, out of love for it. Christians believe further that God has already operated the salvation of the world through his only begotten son, who became incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ. The fruits of this redemption are already on the table offered to those who want to partake from them. They are actualized, rendered present by the power of the Holy Spirit in the Word of God and the Holy Eucharist. And yet, they know that the Kingdom of God, inaugurated by Christ will find its total fulfillment when the Lord will come in his glory. They live the tension between all "already and not yet!". With vigilant souls, with lighted lamps, with faith and hope, engaging themselves as "yeast" that will make the kingdom of God grow in the turbulent history of the world, they all cry out during this advent season "Maranatha!", "Come Lord Jesus!" (Rev 22:20). I can assure you my voice is with the choir. 

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