LAST NEWS   Michel Quoist

translated by J. F. BERNARD

1. Loving one's brother today 9. My neighbor and I 17. In the image of God
2. If Jesus read today' s newspaper 10. My husband is not a Christian 18. The dead are alive!
3. God's children go to school 11. The commercial smile and the Christian smile 19. The age of anguish
4. I'm too good a neighbor 12. There is someone among you
 you don' t even know
20. We have too much to do
5. I want to be Somebody! 13. There are too many people we just leave asleep 21. It's Christmas at our house
6. On God' s track 14. Our little girl is a young woman 22. The Christian in action
7. A Father's gifts 15. A miracle tranquillizer 23. My parents are divorced
8. Finding my place in the work of creation 16. Houses for the children of God 24. The rediscovery of nature

2. If Jesus read today's newspaper

Every morning, I glance at the newspaper. Then, in the evening, I read it thoroughly. I want to know what is happening. It is a duty. I know this, and I say so to everyone who will listen. Thus, on this point as on so many others, my conscience is at ease. I am up to date on world and national affairs, I tell myself I care about what is happening. I have opinions, and I am able to hold my own in any discussion of affairs.
But suddenly, I have realized that there is not a great deal of difference between the way that I, a militant Christian, read the newspaper, and the way that any militant non Christian reads it. If there is a difference, it must be deep within me, in my outlook. No one who really lives his faith can look upon the world from a purely human standpoint.

Because I am a Christian, I am 'of Christ', and I must imitate Christ. Even more, I must identify myself with him, become an extension of him. But if Jesus came down on earth today-after all, what are two thousand years of human history?-how would he read his newspaper? One thing I know, he would certainly read it. How could he possibly be indifferent to the news of the world? How could he possibly leave unopened the daily letters which reach everyone, and give them news of their brothers all over the world?
Jesus, first of all, would search out the most reliable sources;
those which, because they are less moved by passion, have the most respect for the truth which he loves.
But what would the news mean to Jesus-the news which millions of men, hungry for knowledge, study every day? What would he see in a daily chain of human events which are painful, joyful, discouraging, amusing, horrifying? Would he find in these things material for discussion, or for strong emotions, or for anger? He would find all of these in them. But, beyond human events, he would see the Kingdom of his Father being built or demolished. Jesus, in reading his newspaper, would read the news of the Kingdom. What is happening to my brothers; who are my living members? he would ask. Is my Body being built up? What were the problems yesterday, the failures and the successes? What will they be today?
And, with his newspaper in his hand, Jesus would pray to the Father.
Mankind does not have two histories, one spiritual and one worldly. There are not two lives for man, one human and the other Christian. There is only one history; only one life. In that history and that life, in the hearts of the sons of God, both the 'temporal' and the 'spiritual' are inextricably united although, in themselves, they are distinct. (I apologize for using such old-fashioned terms as temporal and spiritual; but, after all, one must use words, and these terms are the ones commonly employed.)
The man who lives by faith-that is, the man who is united to Jesus-has the gift of seeing the eternal dimension in everyday affairs.
I do not read my newspaper as a Christian should.
First of all, under the pretext that I must be 'up to date',
I spend much too long over reading it. I linger over ridiculous but amusing items, while I merely glance at the important news and at the more formidable editorials and articles.
Then, when I have finished, I judge. And I judge severely.
Either I condemn others, or I congratulate myself on my political acumen. 'How could they have been so stupid?' I ask. Or I say: 'It happened exactly as I expected it would.'
I draw no meaningful lessons from my newspaper. I am content to remain at the surface of events. My strongest reaction is a faint shudder when I read about something particularly horrifying. Sometimes I say a distracted prayer in order to soothe my conscience and to maintain my self-respect.
Since the Lord wants me to be like him, he obviously demands more of me than that.
I am a friend of Jesus. 'I call you servants no longer, but friends.' I am a member of the family, a son, and I am involved in the establishment of the Kingdom. I am responsible for more than my own personal development. I am involved, with all my brothers, in the development of the entire human community. And my newspaper gives me daily news of that progress.
I must become capable of reading, not between the lines, but above the lines; for the total reality of events infinitely transcends their superficial meaning. I must develop a new way of looking at things, a' double sight' ; that of faith, which is the union of Jesus' outlook with my own, so that I may see beyond persons and beyond history.
If I am to learn to go beyond the visible shell of events, I must read the gospel regularly. If I do so faithfully, I will acquire the viewpoint of Jesus Christ-his cares, his reactions, his manner of seeing people, his outlook on the world.
If I persevere, I shall soon learn to find gospel values in human events-values which are the measure of progress in the building of the Kingdom: man' s struggle for greater freedom, justice, responsibility and dignity for all individuals and all nations; everything which has to do with human progress, from unions for workers, the organization of markets, construction and so forth, to education and art;
everything which works towards peace, unity, treaties, the peaceful settlement of conflicts . . .
By the same token, I shall also discover obstacles: certain political, economic and social events, unjust imprisonments, restraints on freedom of expression-or simply on freedom
itself, striking examples of injustice, unemployment, lack of housing and of schools, the breaking off of relations between individuals and among nations, violence-and innumerable other things.
I must therefore do what Jesus would do. I must pray to the Father. I must ask for forgiveness of sins. I must thank him for such progress as is made in the establishment of the Kingdom. I must offer to him the whole of human effort made by men who may or may not know that they are participating, by every one of their acts, in the painful journey of the People of God towards the Promised Land.
If all Christians, every day, learn to overcome their curiosity and their emotions and to read their newspapers as children of God, they will learn to decipher the signals given them by Jesus. Then, their commitment will be not only the fruit of human reflection, but also an exciting journey towards beckoning love.
It is true that I cannot afford the time every day to make my reading of the newspaper the starting point of a serious meditation-l should, however, do so from time to time but I can take a few minutes, or even a few seconds, every day, in the sight of my Father who watches me,
to offer, through Jesus Christ, the whole of struggling mankind, and the world which is moving slowly, so slowly, towards eternal love.

Excuse me, Lord, for being so superficial.
I've wasted my time over earthly goods
and I haven't even started the long pilgrimage 
which leads to you, living in the heart of human history.
But why are you hidden, Lord?
Why does your Holy Spirit,
even when mysteriously at work among men, 
remain unknown to us?

I need to see you, Lord,
I need to hear you.
Strengthen my sight, and let me see the true meaning of events,
So that I may know it is you when you give me a sign, 
So that I may hear when you invite me to act.

'It is nearly evening, and the day is almost over.'
Stay with me, Lord,
for night has fallen,
and, too often, it is dark in my heart.
Stay with me,
and in your Light I will read my newspaper as you would read it,
and then get up and go out to my brothers.