Traces N.6, June 2015

What Is Truly Worthwhile

We should reflect more often on this gospel. It is in our best interest because reality closes in on us so tight at times that it seems ready to crush and overwhelm us, yet in these lines we can always find solid ground on which to stand firm and carry on. A good part of the Christian proposal, of the contribution that faith can make in history, is expressed in these words of Jesus: “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? What could one give in exchange for his life?” (Mark 8:36-37).

It is a crucial question. Nothing is more important than your life, your soul, that is, your person: not power, not money, not ideas, not projects… nothing is more worthwhile. For Christ, the individual–you, me–is of greater worth than any other good. Worth has two meanings here. Nothing is worth more, has more value, or is more precious than that infinite treasure that is the human person. And, nothing is more valid–or in other words, strong, powerful–than a free person who says “I,” who truly has an adequate awareness of herself and reality, because, in the words of Henri Daniel-Rops, whom Fr. Giussani often quoted, the awareness of the “I” is the point in which “the destiny of the world is shaped.” It is not by chance, then, that God wagers on this, and has done so since Abraham. He could shift the course of events as He wills, do and undo every moment of history, impose Himself on everyone and everything, but instead merely He proposes Himself to my and your freedom. He invests exclusively in the “I” because He knows that from there every kind of fruit can come forth. When one person willingly says “yes” to Him, He can use that breath to reach everyone. He can offer to everyone’s freedom the fascinating attraction and beauty that is born from Him.

The theme of this month’s Traces is the person, beginning with our “Close Up,” an interview with Fr. Pizzaballa, Custodian of the Holy Land, who describes how the possibility for a novel witness is discovered precisely in a person, even amidst dramatic contexts like those of the Middle East, as happens in the story of a banker who forgave his kidnappers after eleven months in prison. The importance of the person emerges in many other facts that you can find in these pages, all stories of people who, saying “yes” to Christ, in their own little way change a piece of the world around them, make it more human, and invest a grandeur in it.