FAITH AND CULTURE | We are bigger in the Spirit

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It's easy to become discouraged by local and world events. Almost every moment of our lives seems permeated by disappointment, senseless violence and tragic occurrences. Neighborhoods, cities and the world mirror the human brokenness and profound divisions that make it difficult for us to feel safe and hopeful.

Moreover, the challenges and difficulties that face our world and humanity are no longer kept at a distance. Traditional and contemporary social media make it possible to experience events at an unprecedented speed and with real-time exposure. News of events that often took time to reach the privacy of our homes is now easily accessible, with an unavoidable intensity.

It's becoming harder and harder to be socially engaged — physically and virtually — and not be exposed to the limitations of humanity. And yet, deep within, we also recognize a genuine resilience not easily obscured or suffocated by the ugliness of the moment. While not dismissing the seriousness of personal and social sin, we, as believers, also point to the grace that abounds.

As people of faith, we affirm the power of the Spirit that is never far from our reach, as St. Paul did. "But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 5:20-21). Ours is a Spirit of life that far exceeds any human limitations and brokenness. Whatever may be lacking in human efforts is aided by the generosity of the Spirit of God in our midst.

Indeed, our Catholic spiritual tradition teaches us that God will give us what we need, especially as we seek to encounter and embrace our reality: "When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into the truth; for He will speak whatever He hears, and He will declare to you the things that are to come" (John 16: 13).

We might take great consolation in knowing that the truth found in the Spirit will not disappoint us, for in it we hear of the alternative path. For the believer, the darkness that results from the lie of sin in our world can't really overcome the brightness and radiance of the truth that has been given to us and continues to guide our social and cultural engagement.

Likewise, the community of faith holds that we are called to be bigger than the immediacy of our difficulties and struggles. In faith, the lie of division and separation gives way to an experience of community that comes from the Spirit of unity and truth. And, equally, the cynicism that results from disillusionment and discouragement with the world can't overpower the hope and trust found in the boldness of the Spirit.

Truly, in our social responsibility in and for the world, already we glimpse the beauty of things that are to come. "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away ... Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away" (Revelations 21: 1,4).

In mutual care for one another, in service to the most vulnerable in our midst, and in our deepest desire for reconciliation and peace, our lives expand without measure. Let us continue to walk with one another — confident and hopeful — knowing that the cross of the moment can never compare to the glory and goodness found us in the Resurrection of Christ.

Orozco is executive director of intercultural and interreligious affairs for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. 

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