Reject Despair, Pope Urges Christians

Express Hope in Social Commitment, He Says

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 31, 2001 ( John Paul II is convinced that evil does not have the last word, and he appealed to Christians to reject the tempting refuge of despair and commit themselves to the construction of a better world.

The Pontiff focused this morning on the positive transformation of society, to which Christians must actively contribute. He addressed several thousand pilgrims from around the world, who attended the traditional midday general audience.

The Pope is engaged in a series of reflections on the commitment of Christians in social life. Today he took advantage of his catechesis to discredit the temptation to despair, which affects those who allow themselves to be crushed by «the weight of evil, contradictions and death.»

It is a temptation, the Holy Father added, that leads many to refuse «to make any commitment in the confrontations of history and its transformation.»

«They are convinced,» he said, «that nothing can change, that every effort is destined to be in vain, that God is absent and not at all interested in this minute point of the universe that is the earth.»

However, if «nothing can change, what is the point of hoping?» the Pontiff asked. In that case, «all that remains is to place oneself at the margin of life, letting the repetitive movement of human events fulfill its perennial cycle. Following this line, many men and women have lost heart on the margins of history, lacking in trust, indifferent to everything, incapable of struggling and hoping.»

Throughout the history of Christianity, he added, there has been no lack of believers who, in face of the evil in the world, respond by imagining «apocalyptic scenes of the Kingdom of God breaking out,» or, on the contrary, by closing «their eyes, heavy with the sleep of indifference.»

However, in the Gospel, Christ rejects these two answers and, instead, refers to God´s action, «without clamor,» and to man´s need to collaborate in the construction of «new heavens and the new earth,» John Paul II affirmed.

«God, therefore, has come into human affairs and the world and proceeds silently, waiting patiently for humanity with its delays and conditionings,» the Holy Father added. «He respects its liberty, sustains it when it is gripped by despair, leads it from stage to stage and invites it to collaborate in the plan of truth, justice and peace of the Kingdom.»

The Holy Father deduced that «divine action and human effort should, therefore, be intertwined.»

«Without falling into the opposite extremes of sacred isolationism or secularism, the Christian must express his hope even within the structures of secular life,» the Holy Father emphasized.

Finally, the Pope concluded: «Inspired by this certainty, the Christian walks with courage on the roads of the world seeking to follow God´s footsteps and collaborating with him in the birth of a horizon in which mercy and truth will meet, justice and peace will embrace.»

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