Cardinal Ravasi: The River of Time, the God of History

2013-02-19 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) History as a place of encounter with God, and the figure of the Messiah, as read through the Psalms. This was the central theme of the two meditations preached Tuesday morning, the third day of the Roman Curia’s Spiritual Exercises, led by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Emer McCarthy reports:

Moving on from his reflections on the face of God revealed to man in the cosmos, on Tuesday time became the golden thread in meditations on Psalms 136 and 117. God’s theophany, in fact, takes place throughout history. The Cardinal noted that we particularly see this in the Old Testament, in what he defined as the historical creed of Israel, or the passages where we see a faith tied to facts, for example, the great gestures of God’s love: creation; exodus from Egypt, sign of liberation and hope for a people

Cardinal Ravasi says history reveals how we encounter God in the tangle of events, often those marked by suffering, but also joy. A fact made even more visible by the Incarnation:

"History is and should always be our favored place to meet our Lord, our God. Although it is a land of scandal, even if it is a land in which we often see maybe even the silence of God or apostasy of men".

Hope, he continued, is the central virtue to understanding that history is not a series of meaningless events, but as we see in the book of Job, it is controlled by God’s overriding project”.

“We consider the Lord as an ally, a strong and loving companion on our journey through the desert … a Pastor who protects from every natural and historical danger, and the journey towards freedom”.

Hope, said the Cardinal, is the “younger sister” of faith and charity. "Through hope, we are certain that we are not at the mercy of fate, an imponderable fate. Our God is defined in Exodus 3 with the first person pronoun 'I' and the fundamental verb 'I am'. So, He is a Person who acts, who enters into events and that's why our relationship with God is a relationship of trust, dialogue, contact. Yes, our hope springs from the belief that history is not a succession of events without meaning. "

In his meditation Monday afternoon, Cardinal Ravasi spoke of the liturgy as the place of God's revelation. There are two basic dimensions: the vertical gaze towards God, and the horizontal gaze towards our brethren. He noted that it is necessary to strike a balance between these two dimensions, otherwise there is a risk of a sacramentalism, when the liturgy is seen as an ends in and of itself or of reducing the liturgy to that of a general assembly.

But above all, Cardinal Ravasi spoke of the need for a deeper analysis of the heart, so that worship does not become a merely external rite, as the prophet Isaiah notes when he says that God hates offerings and sacrifices. Loving our brothers and sisters and well as the confession of sins are, he concluded, crucial moments to cross the threshold that leads to communion with the Lord:

"To go to Communion with God - one bread, one Chalice - you have to be one body, we must have communion among us."