Come back to me
Publish date 27-06-2023
Also this year the season of Lent began with a heartfelt Word: Return to me (Joel 2:12-18). Through the prophet Joel, the Lord addresses us all as to children and begs us to return to him, just like a father or mother begs their son who has strayed and lost, to return to his home of origin to find his roots. This word spoken by God resonates to me like his cry of pain, as in these days we commemorate a year of war in Ukraine: thousands of dead, thousands of displaced people, devastated territories, destruction everywhere.
I repeat like a rosary Return to me while memory visits dozens of other conflicts that have been open in the world for many more years, where entire generations have known nothing but the horror of war with its ravages. Return to me I repeat myself thinking of the nuclear threat that undermines the life of humanity and the planet. Return to me while the mind reviews our failures: we have squandered the most precious goods, we have wasted, polluted, devastated the earth, we still allow our sea to spit out the corpses of migrants and refugees in looking for some hope of a better life. Even God repeats: return to me, return to me, you no longer have anything certain in front of you, return to me. He shouts it to every woman, to every man, whatever the place he occupies because everyone with God can do more for his piece of the world than him. He shouts it to the great ones of the Earth, to those who have the power to decide the fate of peoples and nations, because without God they have embarked on a path with no escape.
And the invitation addressed to us through Saint Paul is even more heartfelt: "We beg you in the name of Christ: be reconciled to God" (2 Cor 5:20-6:2). He doesn't even ask us to make an effort to reach God with our own strength, because it is Jesus who has taken the decisive step towards us, it is he who welcomes, who cures, who heals; it is he who guides and leads and offers us the way to keep us from falling into the abyss. He asks us to seek him out and then to let him act in us, to trust him because he cares about our good and nothing else. He doesn't even ask us for the willingness to make sacrifices, he only asks us to correspond to his love and it is our tender heart, open to reconciliation that he seeks: "Go and learn what it means: I want mercy and not sacrifices" (Mt 9:13).
Reconciling ourselves with him also reconciles us with ourselves. His Spirit makes us new; in the name of Christ and in his image he transforms the water of our existence into good wine, heals our lives from the paralysis that prevents us from a full life, multiplies our little and makes us capable of great things. And he reconciles us with others, no longer adversaries but brothers, no longer enemies but friends. Only he makes us capable of changing the distrustful, hostile gaze that we often have between us, makes us capable of understanding and going beyond each other's reasons, of finding new strategies for living together. He enables us to go beyond the roles that each one covers and seek what is in the heart of God.
Often in the name of God we have armed ourselves with all the weapons at our disposal up to the point of going to war against someone declared an enemy. We have drawn God into our interests, without taking into account that from Jesus onwards the ancient law of an eye for an eye, evil for evil, no longer serves, because the commandment of mutual love is greater, and peace is its arrival point. Pope Francis reminded us of this when he met us on January 7: «The dream that animates the hearts of the friends of Sermig is the hope of a fraternal world. … for this I want to give thanks to God with you, because this is a work that cannot be done without God. Because war can be done without God, but peace can be done only with Him".
NP March 2023