Letting Yourself Be Surprised by a Good Father, Article in Avvenire, Italy, and La Razon, Spain (January 26, 2019)

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him?” (Ps 8:3-4). These words of the psalmist reflect the amazement awakened in the person who contemplates the immensity of the universe, and at the same time discovers that, despite their own smallness, they are unconditionally loved by God for who they are in themselves.

Sometimes we may view this as a beautiful but unattainable ideal. We may have the impression, as St. Josemaría warned us, that God is far away, where the stars shine, and not truly close to us, that we are immersed in the turmoil of daily life, with so many jobs and things to do. And the doubt may arise: what is the point of all this, what do I want to achieve, what am I really looking for? These are longings that are awakened in a soul who is seeking something more in his or her life, and with the assistance of the Holy Spirit they can open up for us great horizons.

Youth is an especially opportune time to ask these questions, since it is a time filled with possibilities, with great challenges and decisions that will mark one’s entire life. One wants to make the most of one’s time and set one’s life on the right track. Hence one needs time for reflection, for maturing, for considering one’s life up to this moment, for rediscovering the present—what each one truly is—and for planning the future.

None of us is here by accident. God has put us on this earth to take part in something great, to collaborate with him in human history. He is concerned about each of us and has a plan for each of us.

But this can give rise to fear, since it means setting aside what we are used to and that makes us feel safe. In his message in preparation for World Youth Day, which is taking place in Panama, Pope Francis told young people: “I invite all of you to look within yourselves and to ‘name’ your fears. Ask yourselves: what upsets me, what do I fear most in this specific moment of my life today? What blocks me and prevents me from moving forward? Why do I lack the courage to make the important choices I need to make?” And he encoraged them: “Fear must never have the last word but rather should be an occasion to make an act of faith in God… and in life! This means believing in the fundamental goodness of the existence that God has given us and trusting that he will lead us to a good end, even through circumstances and vicissitudes which often bewilder us.”

God wants to open up for us a great and beautiful panorama, which perhaps is hidden from our eyes. We need to trust him and take a decisive step towards him, overcoming the fear that, if we do so, we will lose many good things in life. His capacity to surprise us is much greater than any of our own expectations.

God’s plans for us, like those he announced to Mary, are not meant to extinguish our dreams, but to enkindle our desires, to make our lives fruitful and bring joy to many hearts. As the Pope also said in his video message for World Youth Day, where he pointed to the example of our Lady, with her generous “yes” to God Mary changed forever the course of human history.

Romana, n. 68, January-June 2019, p. 94-96.

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