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His Faithfulness Defines Me

The present situation provokes our desires for peace, rest, hope, meaning. But where are they to be found?

Fra Angelico, "Noli Me Tangere"

This time has been very intense, and I am incredibly grateful for it. The gratitude is born from the recognition that in all the mess around me and inside of me, I have an identity that is certain and given. As I face what is happening, particularly in recent days, emotions begin to swirl in my head and soul very quickly. There is a point, a question, though, that even these instinctive reactions point to: Who can give peace? Where can I find rest and hope? Who can give meaning to the unrest, to the pain, to the frustration?

If the Coronavirus clearly revealed how much we are not in control, the social conflict clearly reveals how much we are unable to love, to live justly, to forgive. I have a hard time clarifying what my position is, as I am one moment convinced of something and the next moment of the opposite, depending on whom I am listening to. But is it a problem of having a position? When everything can be used in one way or another, where does the truth lie? Who can satisfy my heart and its need for truth? 

In looking for an answer to this, I am certain of one thing: what saves the world is what saves me. The evil outside is no different from the evil inside of me. By Grace, there has been a moment (and then many others) in my life when I could start to live again, to experience that my evil was not the last word, when an inexorable hope had entered the horizon of my life. I cannot but start from this original experience and from the memory of it in my present to face myself and the world now. In that moment in which Christ has taken hold of my life, through Baptism and the life that continues now through His Church, I have started to discover who I am. I am when I am in relationship with Him; His faithfulness is what defines me and everything becomes part of it. 

In this experience, pain and suffering have a new meaning, and they can be lived without my wanting a cheap and quick fix, but rather as precious and dramatic opportunities for a conversion of my heart and a way to become more united with Him. They are part of the eternal history of the Cross and Resurrection. The cross is real. Pain is real. Evil is real--but so is the Resurrection that wins. His Presence, alive and encounterable in the unity among His people, is the only possibility for living and generating a newness and a hope (the experience of the Resurrection), both for my life and for that of the whole world.

Given this, and thanks to this belonging, I have a new interest and a new fascination for the reality I live in. I want to come to know the concrete details of the history and tradition I live in--not out of a generic cultural curiosity, but out of love, to know and understand it better. It is the same as wanting to learn about the family, the history, of a person I care about, someone who is part of who I am. 

I am interested in understanding what is happening around me. I want to to go to  the core of it. I know that this process is unsettling, that it implies an openness to letting myself be changed, leaving behind schemes and ideas about reality that I have naturally built up throughout life. But it is possible because I come from a place of certainty that generates a real desire to know. 

Concrete reality matters because that is where His kingdom starts. Within this tension, every accent of truth and goodness, wherever it comes from, can be recognized and valued and used as a starting point for a dialogue without schemes (including my own) to build His kingdom within this concrete world. 

Ilaria, Kensington, Maryland


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