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"O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest" (Ps 55:6)

And now, what? If the problems in which man finds himself involved and those into which he involves are too many and too serious and although the fronts accumulate, they continuously demand from us an answer or a search for a solution or for a way out. We cannot escape an obstinate reality that constantly challenges us to fight: "Do not human beings have a hard service on earth?" (Job 7:1).

Mystery. All human beings search for happiness. However, our experience frustrates and contradicts this longing. Many of the problems that harass us constitute a mystery for a human being, and they are beyond our capability to explain them and therefore it is not so simple to respond to them in a proper way.

  • Pain. This is perhaps the most feared experience. Many human efforts are aimed at running away from pain! But the truth is that the life of human beings is marked one way or the other by experiences of pain, some punctual, some continued: infirmities, depressions, losses, frustrations, personal dramas, traumatic experiences, an endless number of wounds that the soul can store. We do not only struggle against pain and want to be set free of it, but we can never assume it as ours, and will to detach it from our existence and send it to the other world. But there it follows us, stepping on our heels and threatening mercilessly our lives: "But when I looked for good, evil came; and when I wanted for light, darkness came. My inward parts are in turmoil, and never still; days of affliction come to meet me" (Job 30:26-27).
  • Death. This is the mystery par excellent that challenges us and leaves us without arguments. Many times we wish to forget its existence, but it implacably reminds each one of us, that soon or later it would visit us. And questions crop up: What sense death makes? What sense life makes, if we are going to die? And especially "What is there after death?".
  • Injustices. In this apparent disorder into which man gets himself involved, we may ask ourselves if there is any reward for those who seek virtue and for those who try to do good. Or if this is a fruitless effort in the light of an apparent triumph seen many times in those who work without respect for anything or anybody? How can so many injustices take place in this world where the most innocent and helpless suffer almost always the most? Will there be a punishment for those who commit these injustices and oppress and exploit the rest? Job was always questioning: "Why do the wicked live on, reach old age, and grow mighty in power?" (Job 21:7).
  • Natural calamities. With a frequency that notwithstanding does not allow us to get used to them, great tragedies occur with loss of many lives on account of earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and other implacable natural calamities. We feel impotent, helpless, small when the elements revolt. A question that is repeated among those who have lost everything, or worse, have lost their dear ones: Why?
  • Evil in itself is a great mystery than man confronts, an opponent with a thousand faces, one we never known which side would attack us. Its very existence makes us experience the near abyss-dizziness of which we do not know how to escape: "For wickedness burns like a fire, consuming briers and thorns; it kindled the tickets of the forest, and they swirled upward in a column of fire" (Is 9:18).

Solutions. Which solution people opt for? They are many and varied. Generally speaking they are a search for means to escape from the evils and to enjoy the good, to overcome problems and to achieve the much longed for happiness. Finally they are a search for exits or ways of salvation. They are "solutions" upon which human beings place their trust:

  • Money. Is the first emergency solution. When there are problems, we human beings are in the habit of trusting in money, hoping that it would protect us from evil and give us happiness. For many it ends becoming an obsession and the master of their lives. Many argue that money does not bring happiness but helps. Notwithstanding in many occasions instead of being a blessing it becomes a real curse, bringing where it is plenty moral ruin, family division, confrontations and quarrels, selfishness and inclusive crimes. Any disaster can occur where money is the master: "For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil" (1 Tim 6:10). Those who trust in their wealth can end up in this terrible way: "You fool! This very night your soul is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?" (Lk 12:20).
  • Pleasure. For many the search for pleasure is the only aim of their lives, and the motivation of all what they do. However the pleasure that this life offers us, in addition of being transient, do not lead us anywhere, except to the depths of the ocean of emptiness, driven by waves that left on the shore the foam of their shame. Whoever becomes slave of the pleasures may promptly lose any nobility of spirit and their own dignity. These are those who say: "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow will die" (Is 22:13).
  • Knowledge. Many make their studies or sciences their god. But we cannot place our trust in the knowledge or expect from it our salvation; knowledge only puffs up (cf 1 Cor 8:1) Knowledge is necessary, but by itself is not capable of changing our hearts, or of giving life to our spirit.
  • Human efforts. There are humanistic doctrines that exalt man’s capacity to go beyond him, or certain philosophies of positive thinking, that try to teach us to see the reality in a more pleasing way. Many try to follow all norms they find: the moral, the law, the psychology, and also what others expect from them. True that man’s efforts can help him to go quite far; but attending the nature of the problems we are dealing with, trusting in our own strength is beside naivety, a fraud, "since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23). If we all are sinners, how can any of us save himself and being a sinner have a solution for sin?
  • Evasion. Selfishness and individualism offer us another escape door: evasion from reality. Many prefer to "live in their own world", or to taste drugs or opt for suicide (these days disguised as euthanasia). In addition to be a coward attitude, evasion does not appear to be a real solution.
  • Religions. These are man’s search for God, an attempt to reach the transcendent and to prolong his own life into life after death: "Oh, that I know where I might find him, that I might come even to his dwelling!" ( Job 23:3). But, will God answer to this longing of a human heart? Is man searching for God in a right way? Many are the religions that exist, and this speaks of an almost universal search for the supernatural and for God by humankind, but very often these religions tie man to the practice of a series of precepts and to carry out a series of sacrifices whose efficacy looks baseless: Will a simple human effort be sufficient to please God (more so the way men think that they can please God)? The religious practices are many times a sort of varnish that is of no use except to deceive ourselves, because only on the outside we may look presentable. The same happens with the whitewashed tombs, the outward whiteness of them does not change the inside reality: corruption and death!
  • The preternatural. Within the spiritual search there is a field that we shall call preternatural to differentiate it from the supernatural. It is the field of the devil. Many by mistake or more or less consciously, enter it searching for some help for their lives and relief for their problems. In this area enter the magic, the witchcraft , the spiritism, the divination, certain techniques, philosophies and Gnostic cults or of the New Age (par example the pantheistic doctrines that speak of a spiritual reality in which there would exist a series of positive and negative energies which the "Initiated" after paying the respective course, explain how to use them supposedly for our benefit) and finally the satanic cults. Unfortunately there are many who venture into this field of terrible consequences for those who walk therein. It is like trying to put off fire with petrol or dynamite. The ones who have petrol or dynamite might think that they have achieved some power, but this is the wrong power that will turn against them, exploding in their hands or making them burn in the fire instead of putting it off. If anyone seeks salvation by being in the hands of the devil, he must know that he goes nowhere except into the abyss.

We could continue increasing this list. But, so many saviors, and yet so much of evil in the world? With so many roads to achieve happiness and to overcome the problems of the world, the world of our days should have become a bed of roses by now; but it is not; on the contrary it seems that the problems are greater and the happiness more and more distant. Would this mean that our "saviors" have failed?

Summarizing. The moral, the law, the conscience, the politics, the religions, etc. only show that we are sinners and unable to get out of this confusion that has no human solution: "For if a law had been given that could make alive, then righteousness would indeed come through law" (Gal 3:21). But in our sin we are "imprisoned and guarded under the law" (Gal 3:23).

The great fall. One of the fundamental problems at the time of finding the correct solution, arises from the fact that the origin of all evils is not adequately analysed, therefore due to our not coming face to face with the reality of sin and its seriousness and with our relationship with God. Today more than ever it seems that we human beings do not want to hear the word sin, as if it were a cursed word. Any explanation or any escape from reality is good as long it does not remind us of the existence of sin and its ugliness. Perhaps because sin challenges us personally and does not allow us to throw up disguises, but bares the reality of our life, the hidden things that are in our hearts…. And this are something of which we want to run away. However, precisely because we want to silence the reality of sin, without searching a remedy for it, the human experience becomes one of failure after failure, at all levels, especially spiritual as sin is an infirmity of the spirit. Although we may try to dress up ourselves with the economic progress, the leisure and the culture for the soul, the search of health for the body, search for friendships, interpersonal relationships or love… the human spirit remains in need, and more than poor, seriously infirm, paralytic,… half dead.

Questions for sharing:

  • How do people known to you react to the mystery of death?
  • What do the presumed "saviors" that we have been mentioning in this theme, have in common?
  • Why do you think that we human beings trust so much in so limited and fake "saviors"?

 

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