The Good Steward — Spring of hope or winter of despair?

Daniel Conway

We live in difficult times today. From one perspective, humanity has made enormous progress, suggesting a “spring of hope.” But from another point of view, millions of people remain in poverty, the victims of war, injustice and a bitter “winter of despair.” What should our response be to the difficult times we are living in today?

Pope Francis’s homily on Sunday, Nov. 13, the World Day of the Poor, responds as follows:

“Let us take to heart the clear and unmistakable summons in the Gospel not to be led astray. 

“Let us not listen to prophets of doom. Let us not be enchanted by the sirens of populism, which exploit people’s real needs by facile and hasty solutions. 

“Let us not follow the false ‘messiahs’ who, in the name of profit, proclaim recipes useful only for increasing the wealth of a few, while condemning the poor to the margins of society. 

“Instead, let us bear witness. Let us light candles of hope in the midst of darkness. Amid dramatic situations, let us seize opportunities to bear witness to the Gospel of joy and to build a fraternal world, or at least a bit more fraternal. 

“Let us commit ourselves courageously to justice, the rule of law and peace, and stand always at the side of the weakest.” 

The pope’s words speak to our role in the unfolding drama of hope and despair. If we are passive in the face of the world’s evils, then we are guilty of the sin of indifference, which Pope Francis observed during the pandemic is a greater evil than COVID-19.  

If we are able to overcome our indifference in the face of the crises we are facing in healthcare, poverty, social justice, wars and the economy, what courses of action can we take to make our world “at least a bit more fraternal?” 

Pope Francis says:

“Every crisis is a possibility and offers opportunities for growth. Every crisis is an openness to the presence of God, openness to humanity. But what does the spirit of evil want us to do? He wants us to turn crisis into conflict, and conflict is always closed in, without a horizon; a dead-end. 

“No. Let us experience a crisis like human persons, like Christians, let us not turn it into conflict, because every crisis is a possibility and offers opportunities for growth.”

The world thrives on conflict — reported hourly in the media — and our human tendency is to categorize everything as either black or white as we take refuge in opposing red or blue camps. But there is a significant difference between endless conflict, which is a dead-end, and genuine crisis, which can present us with opportunities for growth.

We can either remain passive and indifferent or we can accept these “difficult times” as grace-filled moments of opportunity. As Pope Francis says, “Let us light candles of hope in the midst of darkness.”

Dan Conway is a member of Holy Trinity Church, serves as a member of The Record’s editorial board and is a writer, consultant and stewardship educator.

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