Making [Christ’s yes] present and actual is possible because the Lord lives even today in his saints and because in the love that comes from their faith his love can touch me directly.
To Look on Christ, 94
Reflection – In surveying the landscape of the world in the dying days of 2011, one could diagnose many illnesses, many pathologies in what we see. There is fiscal irresponsibility in high places, environmental irresponsibility (perhaps) in other places. There is moral confusion, corruption, and a breakdown of community in almost all places.But I would say honestly that I think the great poverty afflicting us in the world today is precisely what Ratzinger touches on here. We have a poverty of saints. We need to touch Christ, you see. We need, not an endless profusion of words (hearken, o blogger!), not the endless chatter and clatter and debate of the public square, not more programs in our governments and churches, not even (principally) more services to the poor and needy, good though all these things may be.
We need saints. What ails humanity, always and everywhere and in every age, is the great ‘no’ to God that I have been reflecting on with the Pope this past week or so. This great choice in humanity to go its own way, to make a life apart from God, away from Him, in opposition to Him perhaps, but certainly separated from Him. And this ‘no’ places us in a terrible wilderness, a terrible darkness, a strange sort of hell of the self, an endless hall of mirrors where all we can see is our own egoism reflected back to us.
This is, as I say, the perennial complaint of the human race, our chronic illness. And Christ is the remedy. His ‘yes’ to the Father, made as man, but made an eternally fruitful ‘yes’ by the fact that he is God, this yes is powerful enough to heal all of our ‘nos’.
But we need saints. We need to see that yes. We need to see what it looks like when a sinner like us through some unaccountable miracle says ‘yes’ to God and so is transformed by the power of Christ.
Everything that ails the world—all the fiscal, environmental, moral, communal, etc. failures we see on all sides at this time—traces back to the rampant ‘no’ to God, the endemic choice in our time to build a world apart from and without God. And nothing will ever be made right in this world until we repent of this choice and return to Him without whom the world does not exist and cannot be what He designed it to be.
And it is the saints who in every age show us what this repentance, this return, looks like, and what God want the world today to look like. Only they know, because only they have attacked the problem at its root. The saints are radicals; they attack the problem at the root, and the root of the problem, now and always and forever and ever, is sin. My sin, your sin.
There is a poverty of saints in the world today, a poverty of people who can make visible Christ’s yes to the Father, the human yes to God that is the healing of the nations. A poverty of saints… hmm. Now, where will we find them? Where are they going to come from? Hey! How about you and me! Do you think that could work?