Sherry Antonetti is a freelance writer, blogger and published author of The Book of Helen. She lives just outside of Washington, DC with her husband and their ten children.
The Earth seethes with outrage, with demands for vindication against injustices both old and new, for retribution for all pains, past and present. The people of all nations cry out for healing, for health, for justice, for mercy, for peace, for kindness, for patience, for forbearance, for something other than the constant anxiety and rage, fear and wrath that dominates our news, our societies, and the not-so-quiet places of our hearts and minds.
Unfortunately, the only offer the world can make to address all these ills, both small and great, long standing and new, is distraction via entertainments subtle and gross, refined and otherwise and law, via force of societal norms and threat of either more force, or removal from society. The circuses keep upping the ante, because the entertainments grow duller by the day. The law also keeps upping the ante, trying to “get it right,” and grows more restrictive, more punitive, every day. The resulting system convicts and punishes, but it cannot heal or restore. It convicts and/or condemns, or commute or declares not guilty, but there is no forgiveness, there is no absolution.
The trouble is, we know God’s grace, God’s gift of the Holy Spirit is sufficient to bring about all those things we long for, but because we know this, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that God will restore Jerusalem — with us, the faithful, on top. We ought to know by now, sitting at the right and left hand is not what our mission is about, but feeding the lambs, feeding the sheep. We’re to believe and follow, which will eventually result in our witnessing, through joyfully taking up the cross. The Holy Spirit will guide us, support us, and embolden us, but any follower of Christ understands, success in this world, popularity in this world, honors and benefits in this world, aren’t proof of goodliness or Godliness, but rather snares designed to keep us from fully embracing God’s plan.
We’ve bought into the political/economic prosperity Gospel if we think there shall be no suffering while we’re on this Earth, if we live a good life. God’s grace and gifts make it possible for the world to be healed, and bring about even miracles, but it will not be a worldly solution. It will be in the world but not of it, it will have tangible results and heavenly ones. It’s a hard lesson, which we have to wrestle with and recommit ourselves to accepting.
In Catholicism, there’s always a tension born of faith, of living the both and. At Pentecost, we get the great commissioning to go out and bring the good news to the whole world. We’ve been at this for two-thousand-plus years, yet the world is starving for the good news. Clearly, we need to go out and spread the Gospel even more. Fortunately, Christ knows this, and sends forth His spirit to renew the face of the Earth.
So why isn’t it renewed?
It is, but not yet fully, it waits for each soul’s cooperation. How do we bring about forgiveness, peace, healing, mercy and justice? We imitate Christ to His apostles. We are to go out and bring the gift of the Holy Spirit we have to the wounds of the world through the wounds of Christ to begin the work.