Pope´s Address at Wednesday General Audience

«To Point Out Hope Is a Fundamental Duty of the Church»

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 24, 2001 (Zenit.org)
.- Here is a translation of John Paul II´s address at today´s general audience.

«Endeavor for a Worthy Future for Man»
1. If we look at the world and its history, at first glance the banner of war, violence, oppression, injustice and moral degradation seems to prevail. As in the vision of Chapter 6 of the Apocalypse, it seems that over earth´s desolate moors riders gallop who hold up the crown of triumphant power, the sword of violence, the balance of poverty and hunger, and the sharp scythe of death (see Apocalypse 6:1-8).

In face of the tragedies of history and rampant immorality, the question the prophet Jeremiah asked God is repeated, giving voice to the suffering and oppression of so many: «Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I complain to thee; yet I would plead my case before thee. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?» (12:1). Contrary to Moses, who from the top of Mount Nebo contemplated the Promised Land (see Deuteronomy 34:1), we are faced with a troubled world, in which the Kingdom of God has difficulty in making progress.

2. By way of explanation, in the second century, St. Irenaeus pointed out the freedom of man who, instead of following the divine plan of peaceful coexistence (see Genesis 2), lacerates his relations with God, with man, and with the world. Hence, the bishop of Lyon wrote: «The skill of God, therefore, is not defective, for He has power of the stones to raise up children to Abraham; but the man who does not obtain it is the cause to himself of his own imperfection. Nor [in like manner] does the light fail because of those who have blinded themselves; but while it remains the same as ever, those who are [thus] blinded are involved in darkness through their own fault. The light does never enslave any one by necessity; nor, again, does God exercise compulsion upon any one unwilling to accept the exercise of His skill» (Adversus Haereses IV, 39,3).

Hence, a continuous effort of conversion is necessary, which rectifies the defeat of humanity, so that it will freely choose to follow «God´s design,» namely, his plan of peace and love, of truth and justice. It is the design that is fully revealed in Christ, and that the converted Paulinus of Nola made his own with this touching program of life: «My only design is faith and the music is Christ» (Carme XX, 32).

3. With faith, the Holy Spirit also places in man´s heart the seed of hope. Faith is, in fact, as the Letter to the Hebrews says, «assurance of the things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (11:1). In a horizon often marked by discouragement, pessimism, death choices, inertia and superficiality, the Christian must be open to hope that springs from faith. This is represented in the Gospel scene of the storm that breaks out over the lake: «Master, Master, we are perishing!» the disciples cried. And Christ asked them: «Where is your faith?» (Luke 8:24-25). With faith in Christ and in the Kingdom of God one is never lost, and the hope of serene calmness reappears on the horizon. In order to ensure a worthy future for man, it is also necessary to make an active faith flower again, which generates hope. Of the latter, a French poet wrote: «Hope is the anxious waiting of the good sower, and the anxiety of the candidate for eternity. Hope is the infiniteness of love» (Ch. Peguy, «The Portico of the Mystery of the Second Virtue»).

4. Love for humanity, for its material and spiritual well-being, for genuine progress, should inspire all believers. Every act done to create a better future, a more habitable earth and a more fraternal society participates, even though indirectly, in the building of the Kingdom of God. Indeed, in the perspective of such a Kingdom, «man, living man, constitutes the first and fundamental way of the Church» («Evangelium Vitae,» 2; see «Redemptor Hominis,» 14). It is the way Christ himself followed, making himself at the same time the «way» for man (see John 14:6).

On this way we are called above all to rid ourselves of fear of the future. The latter also grips the young generations, leading them in reaction to indifference, to resignation in addressing commitments in life, to brutalization of themselves in drugs, violence and apathy. Therefore, joy should arise from the birth of every baby that is born (see John 16:21), so that he is received with love and preparations made for the possibility of his growth in body and spirit. In this way, one cooperates in the very work of Christ, who defined his mission thus: «I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly» (John 10:10).

5. At the beginning we heard the message that the Apostle John addressed to fathers and children, to the elderly and youth, for them to continue to struggle and wait together, in the certainty that it is possible to defeat evil and the Evil One, in virtue of the efficacious presence of the heavenly Father. To point out hope is a fundamental duty of the Church. Vatican Council II has left us in this respect this illuminating consideration: «Legitimately one can hope that the future of humanity will be placed in the hands of those who are capable of transmitting to future generations reasons for life and hope» («Gaudium et Spes,» 31). From this point of view, it gives me pleasure to propose again the call to trust that I made in my address at the U.N. in 1995: «We must not have fear of the future. We have in us the capacity for wisdom and virtue. With such gifts, and with the help of God´s grace, we can construct in the century that is about to arrive and for the next millennium a civilization worthy of the human person, a real culture of liberty. We can and we must do so! And, in doing so, we will realize that the tears of this century have prepared the terrain for a new springtime of the human spirit» (Insegnamenti XVIII/2, 1995, p. 744).
[Translation by ZENIT]

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