PAULINE PILGRIMAGE TO ROME - CATECHESIS TO THE YOUTH (I)
SAINT JOHN, MAY, 30th, 2009
Dear young, the Apostle Paul describes and reveals us the deepest experience in his life. It's beautiful for us to approach these big friends of Jesus when they talk about their relation with him. How did Paolo live? In the following way: 'I live not for me, but Christ lives in me' (Gal 2,20)
The apostle reveals us he has cheated himself, deprived from his ego, from all that defines his personality: his tastes, his way of thinking, his preferences. Another 'ego' has taken his place: the 'ego' of Christ. It's Christ who lives in him: it's about Jesus' tastes, Jesus' way of thinking, Jesus' preferences.
Something grandious has happened to Paul: his identity has changed. Christ is not thought about, is not followed as something distant, or absent. He is really present, because he is a presence who takes possession of the person in his totality. We could put on the mouth of Paul addressed to Jesus the words of Romeo addressed to Juliet: 'I am you; you are me'.
As someone could interpret and understand in a wrong way this first description that Paul makes of his life, like if he were a kind of crazy spiritual, he makes a further clarification adding 'this life that I live in the flesh, I live it in the faith of the Son of God'.
It's like if the apostle said: 'I live as all people live: I work as everyone does; I have friends like everyone has; I suffer and I am delighted like everyone'. In one word: 'this life that I live in the flesh'. And at this point he adds something extraordinarily important: '... I live it in the faith of the Son of God'. That means: 'I live the human experience with a depth, an intensity, an awareness generated from a new element that is in me: the faith in the Son of God'. What does this new element that the apostle calls 'the faith in the Son of God' mean?
Pay attention to me. Jesus the Son of God is absolutely trustworthy. The absolute trustworthyness of Jesus justifies that I totally rely on Him. By means of this act of faith Christ takes possession of myself, so that - the Apostle says - 'it's no more me who lives, but Christ lives in me'. All the life - the normal life of the men - is lived inside this presence of Christ.
'But why - we could ask Paul - 'do you rely on Christ to such an extent? What makes you think that Jesus is trustworthy right to the end, and that He won't disappoint you? The answer of Paul is the following: because 'He has loved me and he has given himself up for me'. We have touched the very bottom, dear young. What makes Jesus totally trustworthy is the fact 'He has loved me...'.
The telling of this event is worthy of being listened to in all its details.
Note that the apostle doesn't say 'He has loved us...'. He says: He has loved me. It's a love that deals with the person in his singularity.
Note the sign, the proof of the love: 'He has given himself up for me'. Be very careful. In the Bible this verb means 'to give someone to his enemies', 'to abandon him to their power'. Beyond doubt Paul is thinking to the passion and death of Jesus. But the strange thing is that the verb has the reflexive form: he has given himself up; he has put himself into the hands of his enemies for being derided, mortified, crucified and all that because he has loved me.
Dear young, the apostle has told you everything about himself. As he has 'felt' that the Son of God has loved him to the point to surrender to the most degrading humiliation, one can totally trust Him. One can trust Him so deeply that the life is finally lived with Him and in Him: He takes possession of the person.
Dear young, what do you feel in the front of this confidence of the apostle? Maybe you are tempted to think: it's a fact that concerns him; but what has it got to do with me? I won't answer immediately this question, because first I would like to draw your attention onto a fact of your life.
Do you know there is an experience that the experience of S. Paul reminds us? It's the love between a man and a woman. I am talking about a big love, beautiful, pure, luminous, that boys and girls like you can live or are living now.
In this love there is a confidence, a reliance, that finds its reason in the fact that he/she will never betray your trust. Why? Because he/she simply loves you. And the more the love grows the more the unity grows. K. Woitila has expressed this experience in the following way: 'now I have to find myself in you, if I have to find you in myself. Don't you understand that in this case you are not completely free? Love, in fact, doesn't let the freedom of wanting neither to the one who loves nor to the one who is loved - and, at the same time - love is a liberation of the freedom, because freedom in itself would be orrible ('Person and act', Bompiani, Milan 1989, page 727).
But now let's come back to S. Paul. He has told us his experience not simply to inform us about something happened to him. He tells this event to the community of his believers, because every disciple of God is called to live this experience: the same experience. Even each of you can start this way.
Let's recall it in short. The apostle - the Christian has been crossed from a light, like a lightning which has hurt him: Jesus has loved me to the point that He has died for me. So the apostle, the Christian, realizes that Jesus is one you can trust with no exception and so he totally relies on Him. That is: he trusts in what Jesus says and tries to observe his word: he sees what the tastes, the preferences of Jesus are, his way of thinking and tries to be like Him. In a few words: the apostle - the christian says: 'It's not me who lives in me, but Christ lives in me'.
The apostle - the Christian lives his normal life: he works or goes to the university; he begins to love a girl; he has fun. But studies, work, love of a woman, fun, become the sign, the expression of the presence of Christ in him.
That is not something of a day, and not even of some years. It's something of an entire life.
And the beginning of this process has already been put in you with the sacrament of Baptism. Jesus has already bound you to Himself in it. Now it’s tine to let this presence, this bond grow.
The growth, dear young, can only take place if you stay in a suitable ground. There is only one: the Church. It's in it that you are introduced more and more in a personal relationship with Jesus.
Christianity is that! And when Christ will be everything in everyone and in eachone, so the Father has listened to our prayer: 'Father... let your Reign come'.
I will finish with the beautiful words by S. Thomas: 'Joy necessarily follows love. Every lover enjoys for his bond with the beloved' (2,2, q.28,a.2, ad 3um).
La traduzione, non rivista dal Cardinale Caffarra, è di Stefania Floridia.