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C H A P T E R 1 5 Crisis: A Challenge to Change “And God Saw That It Was Good” “And God saw that it was good . . . very good.”1 This affirmation, repeated six times in the first chapter of Genesis, expresses the fundamental conviction of the people of Israel about reality—it is good, very good. It is not a naive affirmation, made by some inexperienced person from outside the real history of people and their afflictions. As we know, these first chapters of Genesis were not written at the beginning of the history of Israel, but many centuries later, at the end of a long road, in which Israel was not spared any of the suffering undergone by other peoples. And it is because of this that the question becomes even more urgent—how can Israel have such a certain conviction about the positivity of reality after its entire history was rife with suffering, tribulations, and torments of every kind? 197 This attitude of the ancient people of Israel toward reality is even more surprising if we put it in the cultural context of the neighboring peoples. In fact, the experience of pain had brought the others to a very different conviction—that is, that reality is not entirely positive; on the contrary, that there are two types of reality, one positive and one negative. It is what is expressed by Manichaeism—there are two principles, one good and one bad, that are reflected in a good creation and a bad one. Why did this Manichaean vision not gain the upper hand in Israel, as well? Because of its history. The experience that the Israelites had of God, even in the midst of their trials, was so positive that they could not but affirm his goodness. God revealed himself with all of his salvific power. And from this experience, they concluded that he, the Savior, is also the Creator. There is one good principle at the origin of everything. Everything that comes from God, who is good, is equally good.Therefore, reality is positive. It was the presence of God among his people that educated the Jews to look at reality in its truth, to the point of not letting themselves be determined by the various tribulations that could have impeded them from having an authentic gaze toward reality. An example comes to mind that I used to give to my high school students. If two parents bring their child to Disneyland, we can easily imagine that the child will be amazed by all of the attractions with which he can have fun. If we are attentive to his reactions, one after another, we will also be struck by the fascination that reality is able to provoke in him. Everything is perceived as positive. But if, by chance, the child is separated from his parents and gets lost in the middle of the crowd, everything changes. The reality is the same as before, but the perception of it has changed. Radically. He doesn’t feel it to be friendly, but threatening, hostile. And only when he finds his parents can the true perception of reality be restored. But what is most striking is that the people of Israel truly came to understand this positivity of reality in a moment of crisis. With the loss of the temple, the monarchy, and their land, going into exile, Israel had been stripped of everything that it identified as the foundation of its faith. “Why, O Jacob, do you say, and declare, O Israel, 198 A New Protagonist on the World Scene ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God’?” It seems to them that they have been abandoned, “disregarded ,” by the God who once chose them. To respond to this question , Israel is constrained to find a foundation that is even more solid. God sends Isaiah to aid his people, to help them to look carefully at the reality before them: “Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these [that is, the waters of the sea, the immensity of the heavens, the dust of the earth, and the mountains]. . . . Do you not know or have you not heard? The Lord is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth.”2 When everything collapses, there is something that remains—reality. We want to help each other to look at reality starting from our experience.The cornerstone of our...


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