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BEGIN THE REACTION

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Lc 3, 15-16 y 21-22

The Baptist doesn't let the people confuse him with the Messiah. He knows his limits and recognizes them. There's someone stronger and more decisive than he is. The only one that the people should be receiving. The reason is clear. The Baptist offers them a baptism with water. Only Jesus, the Messiah, «will baptize (them) with the Holy Spirit and with fire».

In the judgment of quite a few observers, the greatest problem in today's Church is «spiritual mediocrity». The Church doesn't have the spiritual vigor that it needs to face the challenges of today's moment. Each day it's more obvious. We need to be baptized by Jesus with his fire and his Spirit.

In many Christians there's a growing fear of anything that could lead us to renovation. They insist strongly on the continuity in order to preserve the past, but aren't worried about listening to the Spirit's call to prepare for the future. Little by little we're getting blind and becoming unable to read the «signs of the times».

We prioritize certainty and beliefs in order to strengthen our faith and attain a greater ecclesial cohesion in the face of modern society, but often don't cultivate the living adhesion to Jesus. Have we forgotten that he's stronger than all of us? Religious doctrine, expressed almost always in pre-modern categories, doesn't touch hearts or convert lives.

Having abandoned the renewing breath of the Council, we go about extinguishing joy in important sectors of the Christian people, and thus open the way to resignation. In ways that are silent but palpable, we see growing the disaffection and the separation between the church institution and quite a few Christians.

It's urgent to create right now a more friendly and cordial climate. Not just anyone could awaken the lost dream among the simple people. We need to return to the roots of our faith. Put ourselves in contact with the Gospel. Nourish ourselves on the words of Jesus that are «spirit and life».

In a few years, our Christian communities will be very small. In many parishes there won't be priests in full-time position any more. What's important is to take care right now of a nucleus of believers gathered around the Gospel. They will keep alive the Spirit of Jesus among us. Things will be more humble, but also more evangelical.

It's being asked of us to begin the reaction now. The best things we can leave as an inheritance to future generations is a new love of Jesus and a faith more centered on his person and his project. Everything else is just secondary. If we live from Jesus' Spirit, we will find new paths.

 

José Antonio Pagola

Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf

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