There are negative words and positive words. If there is one thing that is typical of humanity, it is to be fascinated by the negative. To see what goes wrong rather than to be grateful for all that goes right. It sticks to us. However, at the beginning of a new year we use positive words to wish for the future.
But we must realize that what we hear most often are negative words: oppression, terror, misery, catastrophe, dictatorship, disregard for religious symbols, violence, war, murder, screaming, suffering, inclination to evil.
These negative words, which are difficult to bear when they are lined up, we read about them every day in our newspapers or on our screens, we hear them on the radio, we see their effects on television.
These words are also used or suggested by the Bible. It had already understood everything about the human condition!
Léon Bloy wrote: « When I want to know the latest news, I read Saint Paul« !
Let us read the text of Luke 13:1-9
We discover the violence of a Pilate who massacres Galileans. He mingles the blood of the victims with the blood of the sacrifices they have offered. He shamelessly despises their religion.
We see the disaster of the Siloe tower which collapses on about twenty people and buries them. Why, why, why?
What is left to do, to hope, to believe?
But these words are only the dark side of the story. There is another side. A bright one. With other positive words:
Compassion, forgiveness, healing, love, tenderness, protection, happiness, grace, future…
All these words are also present in our lives. Or we aspire to them.
But it is rarely on our newspapers or screens that we read them. On the radio we hear them. On television we see them. And if we use them for our New Year’s greetings, they are quickly forgotten.
However, we cannot and must not forget them. We must open the Scriptures to discover them. We must live the Gospel to taste its flavor.
With the parable of the fig tree Jesus tells us the essential point. The owner of the vineyard wanted to uproot it, but the worker wanted to save it by asking for another year. He announces a year of grace when God will show his mercy.
What is this year of grace? To God a day is like a thousand years, so a year is like 365,000 years. This means that this year is the time in which we live. A year of mercy that will last until the second coming of Jesus.
Underlining the positive
Between these two groups of words, some negative, some positive, Jesus uses one word.
This word alone can move us from the negative to the positive.
He gives us this word, but it is up to us to accept it, to live it, to practice it. If we neglect it, nothing will happen in our lives.
This word is conversion !
Let’s play a little game!
If I show you the + (plus) sign and then the – (minus) sign, if I then put the – sign under the + sign, what does that mean: Underline the positive!
Conversion is about underlining the positive! It is turning away from the negative to the positive!
One word is enough to change our lives radically. But we must accept it, integrate it into our lives, live it, persevere in it.
In the Gospel account, Jesus says it solemnly: « Unless you convert, you will all likewise perish ».
Conversion begins one day. It can be sudden, like a road to Damascus. It can be gradual, like the road to Emmaus. For some it is difficult to date.
Our paths are all unique and precious. But one thing I am sure of is that the time to highlight the positive is now.
If there is one thing that is typical of humanity, it is to be fascinated by the negative. It is to see what goes wrong rather than to be grateful for all that goes right. It is to criticize rather than encourage. It sticks to us.
Conversion is therefore about underlining the positive. And it is a daily affair!
To underline the positive is to turn to God, who is the source of all good, of all grace!
To underline the positive is to live our baptism, to listen to his Word, to be attentive to others.
To underline the positive is to choose to leave the negative in which we too often settle: anger, resentment, bad habits, to welcome forgiveness, to seek reconciliation.
To underline the positive is above all to remember that Jesus crucified took on all the negative by taking upon himself all the violence of which this world is capable, all the injustice that destroys relationships.
It is to celebrate his resurrection and to invoke the flame of the Spirit to come and free us from the negative.
May the Holy Spirit give us, each day and each hour, to enjoy this new year of grace by underlining the positive!