Cardinal Blase J. Cupich

Complaining that the world is evil is not Christian

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

During his trip to Canada last month, Pope Francis cautioned against taking a negative view of life. This “is often born of a faith that feels under attack and thinks of (faith) as a kind of ‘armor’ defending us against the world.” To bitterly complain with a “crusading spirit that the world is evil; sin reigns,” he warned, is dangerous, adding “this is not Christian for God … has a positive view of the world.”

As I noted in an earlier column, the evangelist Luke will be teaching us over these weeks until the end of the liturgical year to be on the watch so that we recognize the many ways God’s kingdom is coming into our midst. Luke’s underlying conviction is that good has won the day, for Christ has vanquished evil once and for all.

That may be hard for us to believe, given all the ills inflicted on the world by natural disasters, sinful humanity and the frailty of our mortal nature. The onslaught of evil seems to be unending with illness, tragedy and corruption. It is easy to understand how one might become negative about life.

But, as the pope observes, such negativity easily results in a distorted view of life, to the point that we no longer recognize our blessings, and we begin to let cynicism rob us of our joy and good humor.

Consider the story of a man who decided on a beautiful spring day to leave work early and take a drive in his new convertible. He was enjoying the day so much that he began to swerve as he drove on the two-lane road.

Suddenly, a car came around the curve from the opposite direction. The driver rolled down her window and yelled, “Pig!” The man was so angry that he looked back at her and yelled, “Sow!” But when he looked back on the road and drove around the curve, he slammed into a herd of pigs! The woman was trying to warn him of danger, but his defensiveness blinded him to the help she was trying to offer.

Some years ago, a friend recounted how he was standing in line to check his bags at the airport and overheard the passenger in front of him berating the agent at the counter. The irate traveler was upset that his flight was canceled and he had to be rebooked on another itinerary that involved transfers.

When he left, my friend apologized on his behalf, telling the agent how sorry he was that she had to endure such rude behavior. “Oh, that’s OK,” she replied. “He is going to Dallas, but his bags are going to Duluth.” Then she winked to let him know she was only kidding, but it did reveal that in a difficult moment she kept her cool and her good humor.

Yes, the world can be unkind and hostile, to the point that we convince ourselves that evil is winning over good. But this is why we need to hear over and over again in these weeks that the kingdom of God is always breaking forth into our lives and our world.

Christ is always doing something new, as Pope Francis often tell us. This is why we need to be on the lookout for blessings that come to us in ways that we never expected. The more we are thankful and believe that God’s kingdom is always breaking forth in our world to overcome and outrun evil, the less likely it will be that we will become cynical, and instead maintain our good humor, and live the joy of the Gospel.