Publicador de contenidos

Back to 2020-03-20-Opinión-TEO-Una nueva cercanía

Ramiro Pellitero Iglesias, Professor of Theology, University of Navarra, Spain School

A new closeness

Fri, 20 Mar 2020 16:10:00 +0000 Posted in Church and new evangelization

The global crisis of the coronavirus prompts us to reflect on the meaning of our lives and the course of the world. Pope Francis has given two brief interviews, in the newspapers La Repubblica (18-III-2020) and La Stampa (20-III-2020). In them he gives some advice on how to live these dramatic days and proposes to rediscover a new closeness based on fraternity.

The value of the concrete

1. First of all, he refers to the evaluation of the small things, of the concrete, of the care we can give to our family and friends: "There are small gestures, which are sometimes lost in the anonymity of ordinary life, gestures of tenderness, affection, compassion that are nevertheless decisive, important. For example, a hot dish, a caress, a hug, a phone call.... These are familiar gestures of attention to the details of every day that make life have meaning and that there is communion and communication between us"(Interview 18-III).

The Pope stresses that we should discover what he calls "a new closeness". And he describes it as "a concrete relationship made of care and patience" that improves the relationship in families between parents and children, beyond television and cell phones, that attends to the needs, efforts and desires of each one. "There is - Francis affirms - a language made of concrete gestures that must be safeguarded. In my opinion, the pain of these days must open us to the concrete"(Ibid.).

Being close, open to hope

When many have lost their loved ones and many others are struggling to save other lives, the Pope prays for all and supports them as the successor of Peter, and thanks them for being an example of this sensitivity to the concrete. "And I ask - he adds - that everyone be close to those who have lost their loved ones and try to be close to them in every possible way. Consolation must now be everyone's commitment"(Ibid.).

Francisco says he was impressed by a article from Fabio Fazio about the things he is learning these days. Among others, the ethical question of taxes, which allow for sufficient beds and breathing apparatus in these circumstances.

Significant, to capture the mood of the Pope in these days, is his answer when asked: How can someone who does not believe live with hope these days?

It is worthwhile to collect that answer, in order to read it carefully:

"We are all God's children and we are under his gaze. Even those who have not yet found God, those who do not have the gift of faith, can find their way there, in the good things they believe in: they can find strength in love for their children, their family, their brothers and sisters. One can say: "I cannot pray because I am not a believer". But at the same time, however, you can believe in the love of the people around you and find hope there"(Ibid.).

Solidarity and prayer

2. To live this Easter 'behind closed doors Francis proposes a response with three words: penance, compassion and hope, with the complement of humility, "because many times we forget that in life there are 'dark areas', dark moments. We think that this can only happen to someone else. Instead, this time is dark for everyone, without exclusion. It is marked by pain and shadows that have crept into our homes. It is a status different from those we have lived through. Also because no one can afford to be calm, everyone shares these difficult days"(Interview 20-III-2020).

Along these lines, the Pope proposes that Lent can help us to find meaning in what is happening to us, to the extent that "it trains us to see in solidarity with others, especially those who suffer. Waiting for the radiance of the light that will once again illuminate everything and everyone"(Ibid.).

This is a time - he continues in his answers - when we rediscover the importance of praying, like the apostles when they cried out to the Lord: Master, we are drowning: "Prayer," Francis explains, "allows us to understand our vulnerability. It is the cry of the poor, of those who are sinking, of those who feel in danger, alone. And, in a difficult, desperate status , it is important to know that the Lord is there, and that we can cling to Him"(Ibid.). Then God gives us strength and closeness. Like Peter, he gives us his hand to pull us out in the midst of the storm.

Again he is asked about non-believers: where can they find comfort and encouragement? And he answers along the lines of the previous interview, clarifying that he does not want to distinguish between believers and non-believers: "We are all human and, as men, we are all in the same boat. And for a Christian nothing human should be alien. Here we cry because we suffer. All of us. We have humanity and suffering in common. We are helped by the union, the reciprocal partnership , the sense of responsibility and the spirit of sacrifice that is generated in so many places. We must not distinguish between believers and non-believers, we must go to the root: humanity. Before God we are all children"(Ibid.).

Roots, fraternity and hope

Faced with the cases of the sick who are dying alone and isolated, the Pope appreciates and thanks the comfort and closeness provided by staff health care, which is at the forefront of this battle: "I thank all those nurses, doctors and volunteers who, despite the extraordinary fatigue, bend down with patience and kindness of heart to make up for the forced absence of family members"(Ibid.).

At the end, he was asked in what sense this experience could be useful for the future. The Pope sees this as an opportunity to rediscover universal brotherhood: "To remind people once and for all that humanity is a single community. And how important and decisive universal fraternity is. We have to think that it will be like after a war. There will no longer be 'the other', but there will be 'us'. Because we can only get out of this status all together"(Ibid.).

As human beings, he concludes, we will have to start again from there: "We will have to look once more at our roots: our grandparents, our elders. To build a true fraternity among us. To make report of this difficult experience lived among all of us, all together. And to go forward with hope, which never disappoints. These will be the words core topic to begin again: roots, report, brotherhood and hope"(Ibid.).