On the day of the spectacular descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Apostles were so filled with strength and courage, that Saint Peter went out and converted three thousand people that very day with his preaching. From these conversions we have the first ecclesial testimony: ‘They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life. […] All who believed were together and had all things in common’ (Acts 2: 42–44).
In concentration camps, diabolical methods of torture abound. Besides the various forms of physical abuse, prisoners are also subjected to harrowing psychological pressures.
One of Cicero’s famous sayings defines history as a thing ‘which bears witness to the passing of the ages, sheds light upon reality, gives life to recollection and guidance to human existence, and brings tidings of ancient days’ (De Oratore II, 9, 36). And it is precisely the witness of history that shows us how the ancient peoples lived, with their cultures given to idolatry, slavery and even human sacrifice.
There is a brief observation we would like to make to Francis. It can be noted in his prolific pronouncements that he often mentions the Church as if it were merely a socio-economic organization, rather than a divine institution. There is almost no situation or aspect of the Church that he has spared criticism.
‘My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me’ (Jn 10:27). No one can but be enchanted at the sight of a flock led by its shepherd.
‘He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him takes care to chastise him’ (Prov 13:24).
The natural love that parents have for their children such that they are even willing to sacrifice their lives for the good of their offspring is familiar to all. Due to this love, parents experience much concern when a young person begins to take the wrong path… They must teach them, reprehend and warn them, and when necessary, resort to a more severe measure: punishment.
A dedicated university student diligently prepares for final exams. His professional future will depend on his good results. Besides attending classes, the student will consult various sources, ask for advice from people who have already completed the same studies, and he will also seek the opinion of those who have mastered the topics at hand….but in all cases, his main attention will be focused on the lectures received from the professors. No one studies for exams depending merely on the assistance received from their companions! Security comes from following the guidance received from those who have the task of teaching.
‘Charity begins at home’. This popular expression clearly transmits the attitude that an apostle of the Gospel should have. In fact, no one can give to others what he himself doesn’t possess.
‘What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun’ (Eccles 1:9). Those who lived the years previous to the commemoration of the 5th Centenary of the Discovery of America (1992) were perhaps not surprised with the words that Francis pronounced a few days ago in Ecuador and Bolivia.
Spiritual realities surpass natural realities, often evading the capacity of our limited intelligence. That’s why the Divine Master frequently used analogies when he explained the marvels of his kingdom to his followers.