Towards Understanding the Crisis, 2

Facing the crisis, we must cross “the threshold of hope.” Here is what that means.
In a previous blog, “Be not afraid as watchword” I quoted sections of the Pope John Paul II’s remarkable book Crossing the Threshold of Hope. I left off the last few paragraphs which I reprint today. They explain a point that lies behind the assumption made by many during this abuse crisis — namely, the demands of chastity are too high. Those who clamor for the end of celibacy, or attribute the crisis to the demand of celibacy, deny the possibility of chastity.
“You observe that contemporary man finds it hard to return to faith because he is afraid of the moral demands that faith makes upon him. And this, to a certain degree, is the truth. The Gospel is certainly demanding. We know that Christ never permitted His disciples and those who listened to Him to entertain any illusions about this. On the contrary, He spared no effort in preparing them for every type of internal or external difficulty, always aware of the fact that they might well decide to abandon Him. Therefore, if He says, “Be not afraid!” He certainly does not say it in order to nullify in some way that which He has required. Rather, by these words He confirms the entire truth of the Gospel and all the demands it contains. At the same time, however, He reveals that His demands never exceed man’s abilities. If man accepts these demands with an attitude of faith, he will also find in the grace that God never fails to give him the necessary strength to meet those demands. The world is full of proof of the saving and redemptive power that the Gospels proclaim with even greater frequency than they recall demands of the moral life. How many people there are in the world whose daily lives attest to the possibility of living out the morality of the Gospel! Experience shows that a successful human life cannot be other than a life like theirs.
To accept the Gospel’s demands means to affirm all of our humanity, to see in it the beauty desired by God, while at the same time recognizing, in light of the power of God Himself, our weaknesses: “What is impossible for men is possible for God” (Lk 18:27).
These two dimensions cannot be separated: on the one hand, the moral demands God makes of man; on the other, the demands of His saving love-the gift of His grace — to which God in a certain sense has bound Himself. What else is the Redemption accomplished in Christ, if not precisely this? God desires the salvation of man, He desires that humanity find that fulfillment to which He Himself has destined it, and Christ has the right to say that His yoke is easy and His burden, in the end, light (cf. Mt 11:30).
It is very important to cross the threshold of hope, not to stop before it, but to let oneself be led. I believe that the great Polish poet Cyprian Norwid had this in mind when he expressed the ultimate meaning of the Christian life in these words: “Not with the Cross of the Savior behind you, but with your own cross behind the Savior.”
There is every reason for the truth of the Cross to be called the Good News.”.

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