Even the sea will be in Paradise

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Even the sea will be in Paradise

Fr. Paolo Scarafoni and Filomena Rizzo/www.lastampa.it

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more”. During the course of Christian eschatology when we comment on this passage of Revelation 21, there is always someone who is very sorry that among the beauties of creation that will be in the definitive Kingdom, the sea itself will be eliminated. For the biblical author, the sea represents evil, chaos, the indefinite, the abyss, and more profoundly the dark side of the human heart. Jesus rules the waters and peacefully: “And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” (Mk 4,39).

The symbolism of the Johannine script was influenced by the hostile attitude to the sea, present in many parts of the Bible, as an expression of threat, danger and death. It is known that the Jewish people were not sailors; however, the first apostles were chosen from among the fishermen.

The ancients went to sea out of necessity, trying to remain attached to the shore as much as possible. No one left the mainland lightly, because there are no roads in the sea. Even in painting the sea had appeared very rarely, and only as a blue backdrop for scenes of historical, religious and mythological character, or for naval battles and maps, especially in frescoes and mosaics.

In religious literature and fiction, the sea was an unfriendly symbol. The ship as a metaphor of society was only used when it was in danger. The ship should never be out of port.

The change of attitude in literature is with Shakespeare, and in painting with romanticism. The sea becomes the situation of real life and the journey is the true condition of man. It is the stage of decisive events, of important moments of choice, of temptation, fall, purification and redemption. The sea as exceeding the limits.

The students well understand that today, in the light of the Second Vatican Council and Pope Francis’ Laudato si’, the vision of a creation prevails, which man is responsible for and must take care of, with a view to the progressive fulfilment of all creation. We are certain that even the sea with its beauty will be in Paradise: the entire cosmos will be renewed, together with those who will rise in the love of Christ.

The careful preparatory documents for the Second Vatican Council showed the attitude of fishermen who wanted to throw nets near the shore in calm waters, without risking the open sea, while the world was in a storm; making small improvements “cosmetics” with a language and with an old-fashioned psychological and mental scheme in thinking oneself Church.

The arrival in Rome of a wave of humanity, for the first time in history, coming from all over the world, with real questions, full of hope, and asking real answers for the good of the people of God, caused the anchors of false certainties to detach. The “vast sea” that opened before the eyes of the Council fathers, and that could make them feel uncomfortable, were: the great problems of suffering humanity; the pain for the division between the Christian churches; the isolation of dioceses and communities; the need for liturgical reform; the recovery of a faith that is more free from mental and philosophical patterns, without hypocrisy; the open dialogue with all cultures and religions for a sincere encounter; the resumption of the missionary dimension of the Church. From a static and consolidated situation, there was an awareness of the dynamism of human life, with the opening to multiple relationships. Those who had the courage to enter this sea, driven by the wind of the Holy Spirit, undertook extraordinary work, which must be carried forward. This was recalled by Benedict XVI in his General Audience of 10 October 2012, fifty years after the opening of the Second Vatican Council: “The Second Vatican Council Documents, to which we must return, … are a compass in our time too that permits the Barque of the Church to put out into the deep in the midst of storms or on calm and peaceful waves, to sail safely and to reach her destination. … Looking in this light at the riches contained in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, I would like to mention only the four Constitutions, as it were, the four cardinal points of the compass that can direct us”: Sacrosamtum Concilium, Lumen gentium, Dei Verbum, Gaudium et Spes.

Today more than ever the Church must resume the Council’s courage to leave the mainland to meet a vast humanity shipwrecked. We cannot be indifferent to the “landings of humanity” we are witnessing. It is the flesh of Christ. It is not an enemy, an invader to repel (hostis). But a foreigner, a brother to host (hospes). At this time of holiday our splendid Mediterranean sea must be for everyone “a frontier of peace”, as Pope Francis said at the meeting in Bari last February. We have “to pray and reflect on peace and on the future of the peoples on the borders of the Mediterranean, … on this sea’s other shore, in particular in north-western Syria” and now in Lebanon, where “a terrible tragedy is unfolding”. In many other parts of the world there are seas used as a barbed border and as a waste dump; situations of injustice that a Christian cannot fail to see, where political choices have a real value. Just in these days Pope Francis invites us to pray for politicians and not to insult them “even if they do not think like us”. This does not mean supporting the proclamations of rejection and hatred. We must take clear positions, distance ourselves from those who still consider the sea a place that sucks all the negative, a place of evil and waste. It is not enough to hold the rosaries in your hands and declare yourself practicing, without bringing relief to the many brothers, new Abel, victims of the violent and predatory mentality, which uses indifference and fear, as if in the sea you can throw among the many waste also human beings.

Sun, 07/05/2020 - 09:31
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