This article contains extracts from a talk given by Piero Pasolini in 1979 to a group of young people. Piero was a physicist and you can see evidence of this specialism throughout his reflection. Although the talk took place 42 years ago, he could have been speaking about the world today. He died two years later in 1981.
[New City Magazine – February 2021 page 14-17]
Looking at what is happening in the world (all the fake, false and artificial crises that we are going through regarding energy, politics, etc…), it seems that humanity is destined to be in the hands of a few wolves who control everything and do whatever they want. Such a pessimistic vision leaves little space for hope indeed.
The need for hope
But what is the hope we Christians have which we should remind ourselves of again and again? It is that things here on earth can no longer go wrong! Whatever happens on earth, it will go well, it will certainly go well, with a mathematical certainty. Why? Because Jesus was a human person. This means, that we are now attached to God in an irreversible way. And because Jesus was fully human, for us, both as individuals and as humanity as a whole, things can no longer go wrong. This is the great Christian hope.
Jesus, we know, died on the cross, he suffered, and so it is all true that in a certain way everything went wrong with Jesus as a person. But he said to his apostles: ‘Do not be afraid, I have conquered the world!’ And he said this at the moment when he was seemingly losing the battle. So this is the hope we have inside… We have this hope inside us because Jesus put it there.
The need for development
Nowadays the problems of development, consumerism and ecology are being discussed a great deal. Back in 1969, in Fontem, Chiara Lubich said: ‘Jesus was a human person, and as such he must fulfil himself within human evolution, and within the development of humanity as a whole. There is no humanity where there is no development.’
So if humanity is to become Jesus, it has to develop. It has also to develop in a material sense.
Now I am not saying that everybody should have a hundred cars, but everything that is needed to build Christ even in a material sense must be abundant… Christian development means having surplus and the hundredfold. Of course, all of this is based on having left everything behind and having looked, first of all, for the kingdom of God.
Consumerism is the opposite. Consumerism is a development that is being exploited in order to have control over others. It destroys the social fabric. It exploits wealth, it is like letting people die of thirst in a lake of fresh water. It is the negation of the hundredfold. It is surplus rotting away. It is society disintegrating because people are organising things in such a way that with all their production, with all their wealth, they are destroying their world. So I understand the reaction of young people against consumerism. They see consumerism as an instrument of power.
Wealth is an instrument of power, whereas development is the fruit of detachment. Detachment from wealth, detachment from self, all the while converting everything into love. As a result, we will see surplus and abundance, and we will create a social organisation that can distribute goods equally.
A social vision based on love
We need to promote a social vision based on love, based on gift, based on giving ourselves. It will solve all social problems.
I am trying to promote a clear distinction between development and consumerism. Development is Jesus who grows.
Those who try to dissolve humanity with consumerism make us return to that state. They are making us not-Christ. They are creating a civilisation where we feel the constant need to possess, to always eat, to affirm ourselves. This is anti-Christian, anti-personal. On the contrary we should breathe a different air, feel ourselves inserted in a society that develops, evolves and slowly becomes Christ.
This process of confluence towards Christ of the whole universe happens bit by bit through our mediation. It is our task, even in the face of social, technical and scientific problems. The whole person needs to develop. And this includes the progress of thought, the progress of knowledge and of the things that are necessary to function.
The seed that dies
When Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly during the last week of his life, on that donkey, he was praised by the people, but he also spoke these famous words: ‘If the seed of wheat thrown into the ground does not die, it does not bear fruit, but if it dies it bears much fruit’ (Jn 12: 24).
I imagine us being this seed of wheat of which the soul, its DNA, is Christ himself. This seed is rotting inside the humus of the earth, which contains all the evil of which we spoke before. But we know that from this seed Christ will be born.
Christ has already taken this step. He has really died, he has suffered the abandonment. We have to follow his example. So we too find ourselves in the right place when we feel helpless and unable to do anything to change the world. Helpless in the face of a world that is dissolving, degenerating, as if being in the hands of some kind of anti-Christ, when all it would take is something very small to make it become heaven on earth. But I was consoled by the thought of being that seed, together with all Christians and all people of good will. Yes, we are rotting in this soup, but in order to be reborn, to blossom, not to be destroyed. This is our reality today.
Being at one with the universe
Humanity needs to organise itself in the most productive way possible, with as many goods as possible, as much well-being as possible. This is the society that is called Christ and that is developing, properly inserted within its own natural environment. And we will take the whole universe with us, not destroying it as we are doing now. In this way also the ecological problem will be solved. Material goods, plants, insects, birds, animals, everything is included.
We are not the owners of all this, but we want to be in an attitude of donation, having Jesus present among us together with the whole of nature. This is what we mean with development: an abundance of riches, an abundance of means, energy, of everything – which will happen who knows when.
If all this is the fruit of the hundredfold, it is Christ. If, on the other hand, it is the fruit of our attachments, our greed, our mania for power, it is consumerism.
Hell and heaven are made of the same things. It simply depends whether there is love or selfishness at the centre of it all.
Christ is my DNA
If I want to be and call myself a human person I have to link up with the nature of this Christ, because he is my DNA, my nature. He is what qualifies me as a human being. So, having Jesus among us, we are slowly making this ‘sprouting’ happening, this little growing of the seed. Maybe physically we will die first, but we are always the builders of Christ. This is the hope that I have inside me. Jesus is the fulfilled human person and he told us that he will remain in this seed as the DNA of humanity, of all future people.
This is the hope that makes me really happy.
Have you ever reflected on the thought that Christ is here and that we are in him? And that we are part of him? Who can take this happiness away from us? Who can take away this certainty, this fullness of being, this sense of being fully alive whatever we do?
Well then, whatever we do, we are bringing forth Christ. We might suffer a great deal, we might suffer injustice, we might die from the cold because there are powerful people who want to exploit everything for profit. We may even be without food and have to suffer who knows how many things, but we are inside this seed called Christ who is sprouting right in the midst of this world going wrong. This is Jesus forsaken.
Jesus forsaken has solved all negative things. If we recognize him as Jesus forsaken, we have found the precise place where Christ is being born. Christ is born in the midst of his forsakenness. That is to say, the whole broken world, the negative world that goes towards nothingness, if we love it as Jesus forsaken, we are in it and we bring forth Christ.