We all find ourselves asking critical questions concerning the meaning and purpose of life. The world in general — and politics in particular — seems to be saturated with immense challenges and difficulties, leaving us deflated and unsure. Contributing to this experience is the plethora of real and fake news that comes our way. High-tech devices and TV channels confront us with reports of all kinds of problems, upheavals and atrocities, both abroad and in our own backyards.
We may come to the realization that even the most basic trust in our common humanity appears to be breaking down. Societies around the world that traditionally have been welcoming and places of hospitality are gradually tightening their borders, closing their way of life to others. The gentle and humane spirit of past generations is being replaced by an apparent hardening of the human heart, and a judgmental attitude that thrives on and cultivates sentiments of fear.
This same resistance and rejection of others manifests itself in social interactions, especially with those who disagree with us. More than ever, we find ourselves wondering how we got here in the first place, and what can be done to alleviate this situation. As we look around us, we can detect an air of mistrust and estrangement that makes it harder to find common ground. And in our personal engagement with others, we see an increasing divisive and polarizing culture. In short, finding our way out of this current state of affairs seems difficult.
While it’s easy to grow cynical or to simply ignore what is around us, our faith shows that the problems we face require long-term commitment, beyond any kind of Pollyannaish attitudes or reactions. Over the centuries, we have learned to trust and to actively reconnect to the voice of God that shows us the way. For Christians, no matter how significant our problems or how vast the darkness may be, we believe that it will never overpower the light that comes from faith in Christ (John 1: 5). As followers of Jesus, we respond to the difficulties that confront us not with an exaggerated sense of optimism, but with real hope (Psalm 33:20-22; 1 Timothy 1:1).
Moreover, for the believer, the way forward is never far from the person and life of Jesus. So, as we strive to move beyond this current malaise corroding the trust in one another and diminishing our common humanity, it’s helpful to pause and go back to the words and message of Jesus: “I am the way, and the truth and the life” (John 14: 6). This retrieval of Jesus’ affirmation will not only serve as a correction, but can be our guide as we seek greater communion and solidarity.
The Gospel stories prove that Jesus’ words and actions are also words of truth. While we may feel overwhelmed by the insincerity around us, and feel uncertain about the future, we rest assured that God’s word stands firm and will not disappoint us. “For, ‘all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.’ And this is the word that was proclaimed” (1 Peter 1:24-25). To allow the words of truth that have been given to us to shape our hearts and minds during difficult times will take courage and endurance.
Together, then, we must hold fast to the life that Christ brings to us. To have encountered the Lord, to be committed follower of His way, and to have heard His words of truth must prompt and renew in us a fresh take on life. Yes, there is no doubt about the difficulties that confront us, but our eyes are also fixed on the Lord who made heaven and earth (Psalm 121).
Orozco is executive director of Human Dignity and Intercultural Affairs for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.