Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of April 6, 2008
3rd EASTER SUNDAY (year a)
1st reading: Act 2:14, 22-33; Ps: 15; 2nd reading: 1 Pt 1:17-21; Gospel: Lk 24:13-35
The Resurrection event had three different categories of witnesses: women, apostles and disciples. Why women first? They had been very generous with Jesus and the apostles: in fact, from the eighth chapter of the Gospel of Luke is cited a group of women who followed the Lord and the apostles and sustained them for their daily needs. In addition, women were more courageous than the apostles because they were at the foot of the cross and assisted Mary in the dramatic and crucial moment of her son's death; it is therefore right that to them was first revealed the glorious event of Resurrection. It is also logical that the apostles, who had the duty to testify and teach the world what Jesus had done, were also witnesses of Resurrection. In the first reading Peter, together with the other apostles, is very well versed in the mission to be Jesus’ witness.
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd:
"Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.
But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him: ‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.”
“Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay.
God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.”
We come now to the third category of witnesses: the disciples.
And behold, that very day [the first of the week] two [of the disciples] were going to a village called Emmaus, about eleven kilometers from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about everything that had happened. While conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
He said to them: "What is this conversation that you are doing among you along the way?". They stood still, looking sad; one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know what happened there in these days?” He asked them, "What?" They answered, 'All about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people; as the chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. We had hoped that he was the one who would deliver Israel; For all this it is now the third day since these things happened. But some of our women amazed us; they traveled in the morning to the tomb, and not having found his body, they came to tell us they had seen a vision of angels, who say that he is alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see’.
He told them: "You fools and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have declared! Wasn’t necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
As they approached the village where they were going, he made as if to go farther. But they urged him, ‘Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over’. He went in to stay with them.
When he was at table with them, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him. But he vanished from their sight. And they said to each other: ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?”
They set out immediately and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them saying: "The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon!" And they recounted what had happened on the road and how they had recognized him at the breaking of the bread. (Lk 24:13-35)
Today's Gospel recounts the apparition of the risen Christ to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, but we know, from our very dear friend Paul, that Jesus manifested to other five hundred disciples. Then how comes that in the Gospel of Luke this manifestation of Jesus to the disciples of Emmaus occupies a main space compared to that of the apostles and the pious women?
I found the answer in the same Gospel narration: the two disciples after listening to the words of Jesus about the Messiah and after recognizing him in the breaking of the bread, said to each other: "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?" That's why this story is a priority in the Gospel of Luke: to make us understand that we must absolutely know, meditate, reflect and spread to others the Word of God. This is exactly the teaching from this passage.
Now let me open a bracket because when I spoke of the pious women a new concept came to my mind. In the Church, for centuries, it has been handed down the so-called apostolic succession: the apostles ordained other bishops, their successors, and so on to this day. I thought, therefore, that, next to the apostolic succession, there is another succession, the "womanly" one, concerning you women. Women who witnessed Jesus and the apostles were followed by other women who have served and helped the apostles’ successors; today there you are, dear sisters, helping and attending the only Bishop ordained by God after the apostles, engaged in the service in this thaumaturgic place: you are the last and precious ring in the womanly succession.
My hope is that after you, in the Church, there are others, more numerous women who can carry out this charisma, which is not only a material service, but also an increasingly important and respectable service of collaboration next to the Catholic hierarchy. I used the word service to indicate that we are all servants, and this role is no less dignified than all others in the ecclesiastical hierarchy; rather, it is a different office, but of equal dignity before God. Do you like this?
Here is the importance of Sacred Scripture, so much that today I believe the homily is given by St. Peter with the passage of the apostles’ Acts. But I have to add a new concept suggested by Heaven, so that this passage may be embedded in a clearer viewpoint and in a very important context. For me it is a source of consolation and not conceit to be helped by the Lord to better understand the Scriptures.
In the passage before the one we have read, also in the second chapter of Acts, there is something very important. Shortly after the descent of the Holy Spirit, the apostles immediately manifested the fruit of the received charisms: "They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them" (Acts 2:3-4). They, after receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, filled with strength and courage went into the temple, for it was the main gathering place of all the Jewish people. And what did the people notice? "When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs - we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" (Acts 2:6-11).
In the temple there were people of Jewish religion, but of different nationalities who spoke different languages ??and each one heard the apostles, not only Peter, properly speaking their own language. All this could not have happened if not for divine intervention! Faced with such a great and extraordinary event, everyone should recognize the magnitude of what was happening, attribute it to God and thank him for this manifestation of His power. Unfortunately, instead they "Made fun of them and said, ‘They have had too much new wine’" (Acts 2:13).
And then it is not difficult to find this situation close to our own. After about two thousand years God has worked great works in the thaumaturgic place, like the Eucharistic miracles and even today, as at that time, there are some who have called them freaks, religious pathology and diabolical intervention. Unfortunately, as you can see, the story does not change and when in men there is bad faith, sin and separation from God, His actions are negatively judged: at that time they were judged drunks, today lunatics or swindlers, unfortunately it is always the same the story.
We, like Peter, must not be influenced by these calumnies; Peter replied in kind: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning" (Acts 2:14-15). And he took the opportunity to make a wonderful speech thereby presenting the Christ: "Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him" (Acts 2:22-24).
The sentence "Jesus of Nazareth - a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs", shows Jesus’ human and divine nature. The word accredited means to confer authority to a diplomat from a foreign government, providing him with credential letters. The credentials that Jesus presented to the people of Israel were the great and powerful miracles he worked and, in spite of these, He was sentenced to death on the cross. "Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay" (Acts 2:29-31).
Here, Peter is addressing the teachers of the law, the priests: they profess to have such a high respect for the Holy Scripture to put on rolls of paper maché and parchment in the clothes or on the forehead, but then ignore what is contained therein. In fact, David the patriarch had prophesied that one of his descendants would have conquered death and risen; then why the teachers of the law who claim to believe and defend the scriptures, do not believe in the Messiah’s resurrection? "God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said: ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’ Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah" (Acts 2:32-36).
According to Jewish law, to assert and recognize the truth, two witnesses were enough and in this case there is the testimony of the eleven apostles concerning Jesus’ Resurrection. Christ was convicted even though there were not even two people who would testify to the same thing because they would contradict each other; Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus, in addition to the apostles, were also some women including Mary Magdalene. If you voluntarily take preconceived positions up to lying blatantly and stupidly, it goes against the truth. Once our Mother said: "Even if all the people of the world were to see me, many would say that the apparitions are not true" and unfortunately, as you see, the story is still the same.
Faced with the great Eucharistic miracle of June 11, 2000, some clergymen have gone against God and sinned against the Holy Spirit; the most absurd thing is that they are aware of having fallen in excommunication because those who offend or profane the Eucharist are excommunicated "ipso facto", i.e. without the need to institute proceedings. (Can. 1367 of the Code of Canon Law - editor’s note)
This law applies to all levels of the church hierarchy, from the Pope to the most humble priest. All this is absurd and terrible: they know the laws of the Code of Canon Law, which was revised and updated taking into account the Second Vatican Council, but consciously they lie, desecrate the Eucharist and are aware of being excommunicated. Some of them, today you have heard it from Our Lady during the apparition, do not sleep at night and are troubled and, I must say, so much the worse for them.
How do we place ourselves before the truth and the gifts that our Lord has given us?
Unfortunately, quite a few people who in the past were part of this community, both priests and laymen, later became our most fierce enemies, spreading slander, malice and malignity and it is absurd, though they had seen the Eucharistic miracles with their own eyes, that they now deny them. The story is still the same or rather the end of the story is always the same every time we encounter mischievous, hard, dishonest and hypocritical hearts.
I have a duty to ask you the same question that Jesus asked the Apostles after the five thousand people fed with loaves and fishes had deserted him. And the question that Jesus asked the Apostles is the same that also Our Lady has asked us more than once: "You do not want to leave too, do you?" (Jn 6:67). So we have to be like the apostles after the descent of the Holy Spirit: strong, brave, prepared and not be afraid of anything. In a sense, your life, but only in this respect, is more difficult than mine; I can be slandered, defamed, but basically here at home I have no contact with these snakes, and these wolves, as Our Lady called them. You instead, in one way or another, have contacts with them and when you come across them I ask you not to flee. If you get attacked, you reply, you must not be afraid of anything; if they say nothing, say nothing, but if they say anything against the truth, which comes from God not from me, then you have the sacred duty, possibly calmly and without raising your voice, to answer and retort with the truth to accusations and provocations. I hope you do this; there is no need to be intimidated even in front of the parish priest, bishop or cardinal, I won’t go higher because for now Pope Benedict is almost unapproachable; but if he would go against the truth, you have a duty to correct him. Did you see what Our Lady did during that sad episode involving Muslims? The Mother of the Eucharist said he must apologize. You have had the model, you have the skills, you are prepared, so try to follow the apostles, let us try to follow Christ and the Mother of the Eucharist. As Jesus sent the apostles, so I send you among wolves, and in the midst of snakes; you do not have to be provocative, I ask you to stand for truth and God's works that took place here in the thaumaturgic place. Defend the Bishop and the Seer, defend the great Eucharistic miracles and apparitions. After all, we can say and conclude, defend yourself, your choices, your values ??and your ideas.
Praised be Jesus Christ.