In Him alone must be placed our hope
By Fr Paul Pace SJ, Provincial
Although some months have already passed since the election of Pope Francis, we still find ourselves very touched by his style and by his words. His openness, his determination which expresses itself in very direct and simple actions, his deep joy which mirrors his love for Christ and the Church, fill us with hope. In a world grappling with uncertainty and a bleak future, we have been surprised by being given a leader that allows us to hope.
Years ago, the Bishops of England published a document called The Easter People: Christians are a people born of the definitive victory of life over death, the fact that death and other negative forces cannot have the last word. We are a people of hope, and it is no wonder that Pope Francis’ inner freedom reminds us so much of John XXIII. Both Popes inspired the Church to venture into new fields, to open the windows for the wind of the Spirit to enter and give new life.
This could well turn out to be a major challenge for all believers and in a special way for religious life. Do our life and actions belie our hope, founded on our faith, or are we spreading pessimism by our harking back to former glories? After the last province day, someone remarked that the Jesuits who spoke, including myself, seemed too concerned to remind the audience of the fact of our diminishment, without being as able to stress the apostolic vitality we are showing and the new initiatives being undertaken.
I would like to mention three signs of hope that we can witness to in our life as Jesuits in Malta.
One is our contact with the poor and the marginalised: by dedicating our energies to serving and accompanying those who seem powerless to change reality we are professing our hope in the Lord of history, engaging in the logic of the resurrection that comes only after suffering and death. In our Province, I believe that our commitment to the social apostolate during the last decades has in many ways led to a rejuvenation of our mission.
Our collaboration with non-Jesuits, especially with lay people, shows that while we notice that our numbers are diminishing, we believe that the mission Jesus gave to his Church can still be shared and carried out in different ways: we believe that his promise to be with his Church until the end of time does not depend on the number and power of priests or Jesuits, but only on the power of his word.
Thirdly, our work in the field of formation, especially in spirituality witnesses to a hope that those who are empowered to discover and carry out God’s will are those who will change the world.
May we ask for the grace ‘that in Him alone… be placed our hope’.
(Source: The Maltese Jesuit, June 2013)