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May 1992

"We all have to experience many hardships," they said, "before we enter the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22)

These are the words spoken by Paul and Barnabas as they took their leave of the communities they had founded on their first missionary journey. They said them because the community faced violent persecution by groups of people opposed to the Gospel. Precisely because of these circumstances, the two apostles wanted to hand on to their disciples a key principle of Christian life: we need to be tried by God in order to enter his kingdom.

"We all have to experience many hardships," they said, "before we enter the kingdom of God."

The particular hardships referred to here are the persecutions which may come to those who bear witness to the Gospel, but clearly every other kind of hardship is also included.

If we are living in the grace of God, we already belong to his kingdom, although not yet in a full and final way. We are already saved now, but we are also hoping for salvation in that, if we do not persevere, there is always the possibility of being excluded from it.

So this is why God, just because he loves us, must send us many hardships to make us grow spiritually and become true and trustworthy friends, having a share in his kingdom.

"We all have to experience many hardships," they said, "before we enter the kingdom of God."

Consequently, we should not look upon the various difficulties we meet in life, whatever they are, as bad luck or as a punishment, but as a sign of God's love. He cares for us and wants to unite us ever more closely to himself. Hidden within every trial is a special grace through which God wants to bring to perfection the design of love he has for each one of us.

"We all have to experience many hardships," they said, "before we enter the kingdom of God."

How can we live the Word of Life this month? We can see whether we have the right attitude towards the trials we already have or those that will come to us. In general, when trials and difficulties come, we stop at their natural causes or the external circumstances that made them happen. However, this Word of Life helps us to understand their deeper meaning and grasp their origin. God's love lies behind trials and he allows them for the best reason of all: a closer union with him, the fullness of joy in this life and then eternal life.

Let's live this month's Word of Life by trying to welcome trials with love, whatever they may be (sickness, temptations, moral sufferings etc.). Let's not just resign ourselves to them, but rather believe in the love of our heavenly Father and remain faithful to it. This is what Jesus did during his life on earth and especially during his passion. We too, like him, should look forward to the resurrection, joy, peace and light that will surely come.

Chiara Lubich

 

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The Word of Life is published by the Focolare Movement