“Do not extinguish the Spirit”

“It is this peaceful Christianity that is routine to constitute a true antithesis with the Christian asceticism that we should live and witness” (E. FIORENTINO, Christian Ascesis, 13).

There are words that should perhaps be deleted from the Christian vocabulary.

  1. ” You”… “ we”

These are the words that declare a distance, that want to mark an alternative, which aggregate in a contrast. These are words that hurt those who feel challenged by “you” because they are defined by an exclusion. These are words that crystallize positions within the community, within the Church, within the families.

They said: “You who command (in the Curia, in the Institute, in the Parish, etc.)” to say “we instead” declaring that we are not disposed to the cordiality of a consensus, but we intend to insist on dissent; it is said so to denounce a misunderstanding.

They said: “You, the old timers” to say “we instead” declaring the intention of a break, introducing the innovation as a protest, the new or presumed ideas such as an urgent contrast between black and white, right and wrong .

They said: “You friends / friends of the same” to characterize a party with the errors and defects of a person, to attribute to the convergence of sensitivity the rigidity of an ideology.

The Lord disputes the inhabitants of Jerusalem who say: “You go far from the Lord: we have been given possession of this land”. The Lord sows in the complicated story of history a new principle of unity: “I will gather you … I will gather you … I will give them a new heart”. The new people are born of a grace of God that changes the heart and makes it capable of feelings and docility, overcoming the temptation to stiffen as a stone in the insensitivity, resentment, formalism that in the correctness of the stroke hides the unquestionable decision of the coldness.

  1. “By now”

“By now” is the word of resignation, the one that justifies inertia, the one that is faced with reality with the attitude of those who have adapted, even if it doesn’t give up complaining about what makes it uncomfortable and deplore that which doesn’t correspond to his expectations.

“By now” is the word of unbelief: he believes that history is already written and that outcomes are inevitable, he doesn’t expect the Spirit of God to renew the earth, he doesn’t think there is room for surprise: what has been will be, history repeats itself, it’s always the same thing.

“By now” is the word that declines responsibility: people are what they are and I have nothing to do; everyone will realize what he does, but I can’t do anything about it.

The apostle challenges the people of the “By now” because he invites Christians to feel responsible for each other, to want everyone to correct themselves, to take responsibility for the situation of those who live in community so that everyone can reach the goal that is holiness and joy. The apostle writes: “Ammonite who is undisciplined, give courage to those who are discouraged, support those who are weak, be magnanimous with everyone”.

The apostle also challenges those who live under the sign of “By now” considering their condition as irreversible, the season of novelty as an irrecoverable past, when they say: “Now we are old; we are of another generation; we are out of the game, now “. In fact, the apostle proposes a rule of life that isn’t reserved for a category of Christians, whether they are young or endowed with particular qualities or in positions of particular responsibility. The rule of simple and inalienable life can be formulated like this: “Always be happy, pray continuously, give thanks for everything: this, indeed, is the will of God in Christ the Lord towards you”.

  1. “Go away”.

“Go away” is the word that excludes, that of those who don’t want to be disturbed and deny others the right to enter, for beeing part of the community, for feeling accepted. It is the temptation of Jesus’s disciples who presume to know who must approach Jesus and who doesn’t, and say: “Go away you children, you who don’t understand, you who have nothing to ask, you who have nothing to give”.

Go away is the word that defends in their prejudices and doesn’t accept the stranger, doesn’t accept the news, doesn’t open the door, doesn’t get involved in what is changing. Sometimes it’s not a word that is said, but a discomfort that insinuates itself, like a discontent, like an impatience.

Jesus challenges the disciples animated by dull zeal and says: “Leave them, don’t stop the children from coming to me”.

An Institute that has given itself the name of “missionaries” is the contestation of the closure, enrolled in its program to welcome and go where Christian witness can animate the human with renewed hope.

The memory of Ezia Fiorentino and the re-reading of his words can help to erase from our vocabulary the words that would extinguish the Spirit: “You … we”; “By now”; “Go away”.