The World Youth Day

The text of a 1973 meditation by Fr. Giussani,
distributed during the World Youth Day in Cologne

Christianity became true, that is, His presence, the evidence of His presence, manifested itself. Even if it is through a sign, the right word is “evidence,” because a sign is something that you see, touch, and experience: “That which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life…” (1 Jn 1:1-3).
However, precisely because it was a sign, precisely because it was through a sign, it is possible that tomorrow–or even an hour from now, in a conversation with others who prove less than enthusiastic, or who make fun of you or who have not seen it, precisely because it is a sign; in a discussion with others, or 24 hours later or a year later–the evidence might no longer be there and experience might not perceive or feel the presence and the manifestation. The evidence is no longer there and it is as if the manifestation had disappeared. It is in the interpretation of the sign that our freedom, which is to say our love for Being, is called to play itself out.
Indeed, why did the Three Wise Men leave everything to follow that star? They followed that impulse that they felt within upon seeing the star. Why? Because they were full of love for Being, because they were fully in search, they were poor in spirit, beggars, because they sincerely desired, sought yearningly. The expression “love for Being” is thus. They were full of love for Being, which is the characteristic of the poor in spirit, because the poor in spirit is a child with eyes wide open, a child who says “yes” to everything placed before him with evidence.

“Oh God, you are my God.” That “my God” indicates acknowledgment, but of what? Of one’s own idea? Of having attained one’s idea? Of the completion of one’s analysis, of the goal of one’s own feeling? Acknowledgment has to do with something that happens, that has happened.
To sum up, evidence is that sign, is the acknowledged evidence, in which the freedom of the Three Wise Men was played out. It is what launched them on their journey. What does it mean to say that it launched them on their journey? It determined a road. What determined the road? What determined the path on the camels with gold, myrrh, and frankincense; on the dunes, at the river fords, when they set up tent there in the evening as they had to sleep, or as they fathomed the heavens because they were not sleepy–what determined their path? Their having seen the star that way, so much so that even when the star had disappeared, they journeyed on and the star that accompanied them was not absolutely necessary as a motive for pushing on; something benevolent guided them, a surfeit of glory, a lightening of their burden, a greater company. Who knows how often they must have thought: “Let’s go back!”; how often they must have said, “We’ve lost our way here!”; how often they must have remarked, “We’re just not interested anymore!” ? The road was not determined by their disposition that day, by the point of view they might have had that day, by what they saw and felt that day, but by what happened. The reason behind that road, the motive behind that road, what determined that road had been the initial event, which had made them embark. For that reason, it was a faithful route, a road from which they could not turn back because, as the Scholastics used to say, factum infectum fieri nequit, it cannot be that something that happened has not happened. Just so the Lord came and drove His stake in this world–even if everyone was to be distracted and to spit upon the Glad Tidings, He already came into this world. Thus, that moment has already arrived, has already happened; that moment in which the evidence was given us, that moment in which everything they told us in our childhood, all those things the priest told us, everything that the Church does, all this we experience as having a real meaning within: it’s true! The heart of the matter emerges all the more from this observation: the entire weight, the weight of the path, everything hinges on the grace that has encountered us. What is really required in us is a “tininess” of spirit, as Jesus said in the Gospels: “If you do not become like children…” But become intelligent children, because this is a tremendous logic. We are not logical, coherent with ourselves from the logical point of view, if we do not respect what we are saying here–because there are no “ifs” or “buts,” no fears or temptations that can tend to make us judge belonging as an illusion, that can remove the fact of the evidence at the starting point, the presentiment at the starting point, of the sign that shook us. No one can remove that!