Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Field of Faith: "Jesus offers us something bigger than the World Cup!"

I have been away from home (and will be again from tomorrow). This means that I have only been able to dip in to the coverage of Pope Francis' visit to Brazil and the World Youth Day.

The two texts that I have so far had time to read are Pope Francis' address at the Way of the Cross on Friday evening and his address at the Vigil on Saturday evening. This vigil included a time of Eucharistic Adoration. Both texts are well worth reading in full.

A thought occurring spontaneously to me as I read both texts was that, given a certain difference in style, "this could be Benedict XVI".  Pope Francis drew a contrast between what Jesus offers to young people and a contemporary context that was very pertinent to Brazil:
..... Here in Brazil, as in other countries, football is a national passion.

Now, what do players do when they are asked to join a team? They have to train, and to train a lot! The same is true of our lives as the Lord’s disciples. Saint Paul tells us: “athletes deny themselves all sorts of things; they do this to win a crown of leaves that withers, but we a crown that is imperishable” (1 Cor 9:25). Jesus offers us something bigger than the World Cup! He offers us the possibility of a fulfilled and fruitful life; he also offers us a future with him, an endless future, eternal life. But he asks us to train, “to get in shape,” so that we can face every situation in life undaunted, bearing witness to our faith.
And at the Mass which concluded the World Youth Day in Cologne in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI also offered an analogy between the living of Catholic faith and contemporary scientific culture:
In their hearts, people always and everywhere have somehow expected a change, a transformation of the world. Here now is the central act of transformation that alone can truly renew the world: violence is transformed into love, and death into life.  
Since this act [ie the Eucharistic consecration] transmutes death into love, death as such is already conquered from within, the Resurrection is already present in it. Death is, so to speak, mortally wounded, so that it can no longer have the last word.  
To use an image well known to us today, this is like inducing nuclear fission in the very heart of being - the victory of love over hatred, the victory of love over death. Only this intimate explosion of good conquering evil can then trigger off the series of transformations that little by little will change the world.

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