Wednesday, August 31, 2011

God's Sowing is Silent


God's sowing is always silent; it does not appear in the statistics, and the seed that the Lord sows with WYD is like the seed of which the Gospel speaks: part falls on the road and is lost; part falls on stone and is lost; part falls on thorns and is lost; but a part falls on good earth and gives much fruit. This is, in fact, what happens with the sowing of WYD: Much is lost and this is human. To use other words of the Lord, the mustard seed is small, but it grows and becomes a great tree. Certainly much is lost. We cannot say that starting tomorrow a great growth will begin in the Church. God does not act like this. [His seed] grows in silence. I know that other WYDs have awakened friendships, friendships for life; so many new experiences that God exists. And we trust in this silent growth, and we are certain that, although the statistics do not say much about it, the Lord's seed really grows. And for many people it will be the beginning of a friendship with God and with others, of a universality of thought, of a common responsibility that really shows that these days give fruit.
Press Conference while held travelling to World Youth Day, August 18,2011

Reflection – ‘Oh, what good does it do?’ This is the question, and it’s a serious one. Not just about World Youth Day, but about… well, everything and anything. The parish RCIA has a dozen candidates and catechumens one year… and three years later how many of them are in church on Sunday? Madonna House has several hundred guests passing through every year… and what lasting difference does it make in their lives? You get married and have children… and they all grow up and leave the church. What good does it do?
This is a profound question which afflicts almost everybody at some point or other, often with great anguish. Is the world ever going to get better? Is the Church ever going to be renewed? Am I ever going to become the person I want to be?
The Holy Father’s words penetrate this anguish at a very deep level. ‘God’s sowing is always silent… His seed grows in silence.’ Every serious Christian (indeed every serious human being, at some level) has to grapple with this unchangeable fact. The hidden quality, the silent reality of the true growth, the true action of God, of the Spirit in the world.
Evil is reflected in statistics: marriage breakdowns, violent crimes, war casualties, and all the grim metrics of tragedy in the world. Good is not measured thus: the actions of grace in the world, of forgiveness, of mercy, the slow growth of wisdom and love in a human heart, the choice made to persevere in a difficult situation, to serve and to give when it costs much. No Gallup poll can capture this; no psychological experiment track it under laboratory conditions.
So yes, I’m sure there are young pilgrims who went to WYD, clapped and sang and chanted ‘Benedito (clap-clap, clap-clap)’ and even ‘Esta es la juventud del Papa’ and then went home and partied wildly with their friends, had sex with their girlfriend or boyfriend and slept in the next Sunday! (And of course there are many pilgrims for whom that is utterly not the case).
But the action of God is not limited by this. WYD generates a sacred memory for those who attend it, presents a vision of the Church, of Christ, of the Gospel that abides, even if some or even many of the attendees turn away from it for a time or even for good. It plants a seed, and this planting is the very heart, the essence of evangelization, as Our Lord himself taught us in the Gospel. And this planting applies, not only to WYD, but to all of our lives. What good does it do? Wait until the Harvest, and see.

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