Taken from the second of the Advent homilies to the Papal household:
Taking up Hegel’s affirmation according to which “Christians waste in heaven the energies destined for earth,” Feuerbach and above all Marx combated the belief of a life after death, under the pretext that it alienates from the earthly commitment. To the idea of a personal survival in God is substituted by the idea of a survival in the species and in the society of the future.
Little by little, suspicion, forgetfulness and silence fell on the word eternity. Materialism and consumerism did the rest in the opulent society, making it seem inconvenient to still speak of eternity among educated persons. All this had a clear repercussion on the faith of believers, which became, on this point, timid and reticent. When did we hear the last homily on eternal life? Who dares any more to mention eternal life in front of the suffering of an innocent child?
We continue to recite the Creed: “Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum et vitam venturi saeculi”: “I await the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come,” but without giving too much weight to these words. Kierkegaard was right when he wrote:
“The beyond has become a joke, such an uncertain need that not only does no one respect it anymore, but no one even expects it, to the point that we are amused even at the thought that there was a time in which this idea transformed the whole of existence.”
What is the practical consequence of this eclipse of the idea of eternity? St. Paul refers to those who do not believe in the resurrection from the dead: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32). The natural desire to live always, distorted, becomes a desire or frenzy to live well, namely, pleasantly, even at the expense of others, if necessary. The whole earth becomes what Dante said of Italy of his time: “the flower-bed that makes us so ferocious.” The horizon of eternity having fallen, human suffering seems doubly and irremediably absurd.
Here is the rest of the homily. Tomorrow, the last of the three.