I have no scientific proof that God exists,
nor of what there may be after death.
By now, when I am into my 80s, my faith is riddled with doubts.
I’m bubbling with questions
as I face the structural cruelties of the powerful,
the suffering of the innocent,
the poverty of so many people,
natural disasters …
Where is God? Why doesn’t He act?
Why do some rogues have such a good time while things go so badly for so many good people?
Why does God stand idly by?
watching the evil one swallow up the innocent one?
God’s silence in the face of so much absurd suffering is unbearable.
Why did you fail to deliver even your own Son from such an ignominious death?
If you exist, you are a hidden God… Or could it be that you are cruel? Or powerless?
I have no proof either of what death means.
Personally, I have already had several brushes with it.
Many fellow travellers are no longer there… They are gone forever.
Faced with having accompanied so many deaths, and vigils kept over so many corpses
my questions freeze…
Where are they? Can they hear me? Can I thank them or ask them for help?
Does it all end in worms and decay?
And what if there is nothing?
Faced with numerous advances in Science, classical faith escapes me
like sand between my toes…
Planet Earth is not the centre of Creation,
but a blue dot of a small sun in a lesser galaxy…
It turns out that the evolution of life and of humans
has been going on for millions of years…
Diseases have natural causes and remedies…
Genetics performs previously unheard of “miracles”…
Poverty is a socio-political problem…
It is no longer a question of being possessed by the devil, nor of divine punishments…
I know honest, happy people who take no heed of God.
What has become of all the beliefs and prayers to achieve happiness?
and scare away disease and misfortune?
Many religious practices are a failure!
God is slipping away from us. He cannot be represented or controlled.
He is not all-powerful.
He doesn’t even have a name… A thousand names, but none of them will do.
But, bewildered in the midst of the tornado, another reality is forced upon me:
I have to admit that faith in God has helped me in an effective way
to cultivate ideals,
to seriously involve myself with the poor,
to overcome huge difficulties,
to help many people achieve dignity…
At times, I have felt His soft footsteps…
Therefore, I legitimately and freely choose to believe in God in a new way.
Brimming with questions, I leap into the void.
My life, so committed and so blissful, is a pulsating reality
that cannot be understood unless it is consciously underpinned by God.
I cannot deny a divine presence in my life.
Nor in the lives of many other people I have deeply accompanied.
I see God in couples who have long been in love, and in heroically supportive mothers.
I have tuned in to the presence of God in heroic struggles of popular organisations…
I recognise that we are not able to understand God as He is.
He is always greater than we can think or imagine.
I can’t see Him, I can’t touch Him,
but I have personally experienced His energy,
so tender and so powerful…
Locked in a dungeon without horizons, the hand of God caressed my heart.
I felt His embrace when I was slandered or relentlessly persecuted….
With His 4WD-vehicle, I have crossed dark swamps…
His energy has illuminated my dark corners and moved my heavy machinery…
So much so that, at the age of 81, I can joyfully share in the life of a deprived suburb…
That is why I choose to believe in God, but in a different God….
From my life experience of God,
I can admire Him ecstatically in the wonders of nature.
I believe that the energies of the Universe, gravity and expansion, are of God,
in both the microcosm and the macrocosm.
I recognise that the wonders of the evolution of life over millions of years
reflect patient, divine wisdom.
I accept with enthusiasm the long, slow evolution of hominids,
in an astonishing process of upward humanisation.
I do not think that homo sapiens is the end of evolution.
In a long, slow evolutionary process, new humans will evolve,
with superior capabilities for intelligence and love.
I believe that there is a rich diversity of conscious beings in the Universe,
constantly evolving upwards.
But I accept that on this small planet we are not capable of
detecting them, nor relating to them.
I am committed to helping all humans on this planet achieve dignity.
Religions do not matter that much.
The important thing is whether they help us to be more human.
I believe that some kind of presence of God is at work in all religions.
There is only one God.
But he appears in a variety of forms, according to each culture.
God needs neither our prayers nor our offerings.
He always remains respectful and silent!
ready to gently strengthen our commitments,
if we really want to let Him help us along the path of love.
God has put the march of history into our hands.
And He is not willing to relieve us of our responsibilities…
Faith in Him involves effective personal and social commitments
to build a dignified world that is fair for all.
I choose to believe in Jesus, the man in whom God manifested Himself.
He shows that God’s omnipotence is love.
And He strengthens us so that we can love unconditionally.
According to Jesus, God can only be reached through love.
And He promises us, with his help, the final victory of love…
The God of Jesus has no power. He is pure mercy.
Human beings cause him anguish.
But He is powerless in the face of the freedom He gave us.
He is so powerless that He needs our cooperation.
In the face of every suffering person I see the face of Jesus imploring me.
I make Him present in my life by showing mercy….
The only thing God helps us to do is to love,
the deprived especially, creating fraternity.
I delight in the figure of the Jesus of the Gospels.
Christologies and Christophanies. Novels, paintings and films as well…
But I indignantly reject fanatical, outmoded or elitist approaches.
I believe in the evolutionary triumph of Christ.
He is the summit, the Omega, towards which the march of the Universe gravitates.
I believe in His intercultural, interreligious and intergalactic presence…
I hope that the love I’ve developed in this life
will somehow expand without borders,
beyond space and time…
I accept that, in darkness, without asking how.
With my eyes on Jesus, the incarnate Jesus, I quietly wait on the threshold…
José Luis Caravias, Andalusian Jesuit (1935). Having devoted his entire life to fighting in different ways with and for the farmers of Paraguay, he passed away last Wednesday, 25/3/2021, at the age of 86.
(Translated by Sarah J. Turtle)