The Way of the Cross, the 'filth' in the Church and the 'decay' of ideologies
Rome (AsiaNews) The leitmotiv of this year's meditations on the Way of the Cross is the grain of wheat which falls to the earth and must die to bear fruit.
Written by Card Joseph Ratzinger, the meditations view the death of Jesus, the true grain of wheat, as the event that bears fruit.
The parable gives the theologian Ratzinger a chance to reflect on the relationship between God and the men and women of our time, a relationship marked by a culture that wants to put God aside, by a form of neo-paganism that is based on pride and by the trivialisation of values and even faith.
In such a context people do not see that they are on a path to self-destruction, a sin that is also found among the clergy.
"How much filth there is in the Church," writes the Cardinal, who sends a terrible warning for we accept "only the gentleness and love of God and Jesus, and quietly set aside the word of judgment"
Cardinal Ratzinger looks at the whole of humanity. "How often," he says in the second station when Jesus is forced to carry the Cross, "are the symbols of power, borne by the great ones of this world, an affront to truth, to justice and to the dignity of man! How many times are their pomps and their lofty words nothing but grandiose lies, a parody of their solemn obligation to serve the common good! [. . .] The price of justice in this world is suffering".
Speaking in the third and seventh stations, he calls attention to the sin of pride in man. "In Jesus' fall beneath the weight of the Cross, the meaning of his whole life is seen: his voluntary abasement, which lifts us up from the depths of our pride. The nature of our pride is also revealed: it is that arrogance which makes us want to be liberated from God and left alone to ourselves, the arrogance which makes us think that we do not need his eternal love, but can be the masters of our own lives. In this rebellion against truth, in this attempt to be our own god, creator and judge, we fall headlong and plunge into self-destruction."
What is more, recent history shows "how a Christianity which has grown weary of faith has abandoned the Lord: the great ideologies, and the banal existence of those who no longer believing in anything, who simply drift through life, have built a new and worse paganism, which in its attempt to do away with God once and for all, have ended up doing away with man"
Finally, the third fall perhaps reminds us of "the fall of man in general, and the falling of many Christians away from Christ and into a godless secularism. Should we not also think of how much Christ suffers in his own Church? How often is the holy sacrament of his Presence abused, how often must he enter empty and evil hearts! How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that he is there! How often is his Word twisted and misused! What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words! How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him! How much pride, how much self-complacency! What little respect we pay to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where he waits for us, ready to raise us up whenever we fall! All this is present in his Passion. His betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his Body and Blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer."
Jesus' own words in the eight station, when he reproaches the women of Jerusalem who follow him and weep for him, should be seen as "directed at a piety which is purely sentimental, one which fails to lead to conversion and living faith".
"It is no use to lament the sufferings of this world if our life goes on as usual. And so the Lord warns us of the danger in which we find ourselves. He shows us both the seriousness of sin and the seriousness of judgment. Can it be that, despite all our expressions of consternation in the face of evil and innocent suffering, we are all too prepared to trivialize the mystery of evil? Have we accepted only the gentleness and love of God and Jesus, and quietly set aside the word of judgment? 'How can God be so concerned with our weaknesses?' we say. 'We are only human!' Yet as we contemplate the sufferings of the Son, we see more clearly the seriousness of sin, and how it needs to be fully atoned if it is to be overcome. Before the image of the suffering Lord, evil can no longer be trivialized. To us too, he says: 'Do not weep for me, weep for yourselves . . . if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?'"
"Amid the decay of ideologies," writes Ratzinger by way of conclusion, "our faith needs once more to be the fragrance which returns us to the path of life. At the very moment of his burial, Jesus' words are fulfilled: 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit' (John, 12:24). Jesus is the grain of wheat which dies. From that lifeless grain of wheat comes forth the great multiplication of bread which will endure until the end of the world." (FP)