I was going to post on St Joseph’s Day, and I’ll still do that later. But this quote that Chris offered for my previous post deserves to be elevated from the comment stream, I think. It’s from an interview Pope Francis gave in 2007, quoted in Chiesa.
“Jonah had everything clear. He had clear ideas about God, very clear ideas about good and evil. On what God does and on what He wants, on who was faithful to the Covenant and who instead was outside the Covenant. He had the recipe for being a good prophet. God broke into his life like a torrent. He sent him to Nineveh. Nineveh was the symbol of all the separated, the lost, of all the peripheries of humanity. Of all those who are outside, forlorn. Jonah saw that the task set on him was only to tell all those people that the arms of God were still open, that the patience of God was there and waiting, to heal them with His forgiveness and nourish them with His tenderness. Only for that had God sent him. He sent him to Nineveh, but he instead ran off in the opposite direction, toward Tarshish”.
“Running away from a difficult mission…” said the interviewer.
“No. What he was fleeing was not so much Nineveh as the boundless love of God for those people. It was that that didn’t come into his plans. God had come once… ‘and I’ll see to the rest’: that’s what Jonah told himself. He wanted to do things his way, he wanted to steer it all. His stubbornness shut him in his own structures of evaluation, in his pre-ordained methods, in his righteous opinions. He had fenced his soul off with the barbed wire of those certainties that instead of giving freedom with God and opening horizons of greater service to others had finished by deafening his heart. How the isolated conscience hardens the heart! Jonah no longer knew that God leads His people with the heart of a Father”.
“A great many of us can identify with Jonah”, the interviewer remarked.
Bergoglio: “Our certainties can become a wall, a jail that imprisons the Holy Spirit. Those who isolate their conscience from the path of the people of God don’t know the joy of the Holy Spirit that sustains hope. That is the risk run by the isolated conscience. Of those who from the closed world of their Tarshish complain about everything or, feeling their identity threatened, launch themselves into battles only in the end to be still more self-concerned and self-referential”.
“What should one do?”
Bergoglio: “Look at our people not for what they should be but for what they are and see what is necessary. Without preconceptions and recipes but with generous openness. For the wounds and the frailty God have spoken. Allowing the Lord to speak… In a world that we can’t manage to interest with the words we say, only His presence that loves us, saves us, can be of interest. Apostolic fervor renews itself in order to testify to Him who has loved us from the beginning”.
Last question: “For you, then, what is the worst thing that can happen in the Church?”
Bergoglio: “It is what De Lubac calls ‘spiritual worldliness’. It is the greatest danger for the Church, for us, who are in the Church. ‘It is worse’, says De Lubac, ‘more disastrous than the infamous leprosy that disfigured the dearly beloved Bride at the time of the libertine popes’. Spiritual worldliness is putting oneself at the center. It is what Jesus saw going on among the Pharisees: ‘You who glorify yourselves. Who give glory to yourselves, the ones to the others’”.