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Taizé. Hoping in Season and out of Season.

In the last few months, many young people have shared with us their worries about the future: what hope can give us direction; what things can we trust and rely on when everything is so unstable? And still more deeply: what goal is worth living for?
Other voices rise up and say: we must resist becoming disenchanted and pay attention to signs of hope.

In the current situation marked by the pandemic, we are witnessing a growing precariousness in vast regions of the world. Bold political decisions are needed, but the solidarity and social friendship we can all undertake are just as indispensable. Many people are ready and willing to serve others. Their generosity reminds us that mutual aid opens a road for the future.

And so many young people are devoting their energies to save our common home, the planet! Initiatives are springing up everywhere: without providing all the answers to the climate emergency, they allow us already now to head towards ways of life which are more respectful of the environment. For those who are believers, the earth is a gift that God has entrusted to us so that we may take care of it.

People have become more aware of structures of injustice, sometimes inherited from the past. And unfortunately, power has not always been exercised to serve the good of all. In the face of such abuses, frustration and anger are comprehensible.
Who will be daring enough to be creators of justice and peace beyond the divisions that are splitting our societies apart?

Yes, in the midst of the difficult realities of the present, we can glimpse reasons to hope, and even at times to hope against all hope. For this, we need to come together with others who have made different choices—with Christians from other denominations, with believers of other religions, and with people who are agnostic or atheist and who are also committed to solidarity and sharing.

Joy is renewed when we live as brothers and sisters, when we remain alongside the most deprived: the homeless, men and women who are elderly, ill or lonely, children in difficulty, people living with disabilities, migrants…. Life’s circumstances can make us all vulnerable. And the pandemic is exposing the weak spots of our humanity.

We need one another more than ever. Pope Francis reminds us forcefully of this in his encyclical letter Fratelli tutti: “No one is saved alone.” And he adds that we do not find our true identity “without being sincerely open to the universal, without feeling challenged by what is happening in other places, without openness to enrichment by other cultures, and without solidarity and concern for the tragedies affecting other peoples” (§32 and §146).

In relationships between individuals as well as between peoples, let us do all we can to move from competition to cooperation. Let us support the agencies or associations that promote cooperation and solidarity, whether it be locally, nationally or internationally.

At Taizé, we notice that young people are reflecting in a new way about faith in God in order to stay on track. What does it mean to believe? And if God exists, is this God active in history, in our lives?
In the face of these questions, it is important to avoid reducing God to our concepts. God is infinitely greater than all we can imagine. We are seekers thirsting for love and truth. Wherever we may be on our inner pilgrimage, all of us are often just feeling our way forward. But, as pilgrims of trust, we can walk together, sharing our search—our questions as much as our convictions.

“Faith is a simple trust in God, a surge of trusting repeated a thousand times during our lifetime… even if in each one of us there can be doubts as well,” said Brother Roger.
Does believing not mean first of all trusting in a presence which is both in the depths of our being and in the entire universe, a presence which is elusive and yet so real? A presence that does not impose itself, but one we can welcome anew at every moment, in silence, as a kind of respiration. A caring presence which is always there, regardless of our doubts and even when we have the impression that we understand very little who God is.

A caring presence: what light does the Gospel shed on this mystery? Jesus drew life from this caring presence to the very end; he was constantly attentive to it. It was an inner light for him, the breath of God, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
From the depths of suffering and absolute solitude, when he was dying on the cross, when everything seemed meaningless, he let his feelings of abandonment burst out in a cry, but in words still addressed to God: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Betrayed, tortured, condemned to death, Jesus brought love into the deepest darkness. And that love was shown to be stronger than evil. Mary Magdalene and then the apostles communicated this unexpected, unbelievable news: he is alive. God’s love has conquered hatred and death.

Gripped by this news, the first Christians were overwhelmed and they bore witness to it: Christ is henceforth alive with God. Christ fills the universe by the Holy Spirit and is also present in every human being. Christ is in solidarity with the poor and will bring them justice; he is the fulfillment of history and creation; he will welcome us after death in the fullness of joy.
Beyond human violence, beyond environmental disasters and diseases, a new horizon is open. Will we be able to discern it?

From this horizon revealed by the resurrection of Christ, a light enters our existence. Again and again it dispels the shadow of fear and makes a spring of living water well up; because of it the joy of praise bursts forth.As a result we can sense that secretly, by a kind of mysterious attraction. Christ continues until the end of time to gather together into God’s love all humankind and the entire universe. And he makes us partners in his mission.

Christ makes us partners together, as the Church. That requires us to be ready to widen our friendship to include everybody. Christ asks us to love even our enemies; his peace reconciles even opposing nations. Let Christ change our way of seeing: through him we recognize more clearly the dignity of every human being and the beauty of creation. Far from being a naive trust, hope springs up again and again, because it is rooted in Christ. A serene joy fills us and, with it, the courage to take on the responsibilities that God entrusts to us on this earth.
With each of you who want to reflect on this message, I am in communion through prayer.

Brother Alois

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