fear of losing our privacy, all the defensive atti-
tudes which today’s world imposes on us. Many
try to escape from others and take refuge in the
comfort of their privacy or in a small circle of
close friends, renouncing the realism of the so-
cial aspect of the Gospel. For just as some peo-
ple want a purely spiritual Christ, without flesh
and without the cross, they also want their inter-
personal relationships provided by sophisticated
equipment, by screens and systems which can be
turned on and off on command. Meanwhile,
the Gospel tells us constantly to run the risk of
a face-to-face encounter with others, with their
physical presence which challenges us, with their
pain and their pleas, with their joy which infects
us in our close and continuous interaction. True
faith in the incarnate Son of God is inseparable
from self-giving, from membership in the com-
munity, from service, from reconciliation with
others. The Son of God, by becoming flesh,
summoned us to the revolution of tenderness.
89. Isolation, which is a version of imma-
nentism, can find expression in a false autonomy
which has no place for God. But in the realm of
religion it can also take the form of a spiritual
consumerism tailored to one’s own unhealthy in-
dividualism. The return to the sacred and the
quest for spirituality which mark our own time
are ambiguous phenomena. Today, our challenge
is not so much atheism as the need to respond
adequately to many people’s thirst for God, lest
they try to satisfy it with alienating solutions or
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