Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of April 9, 2009
Supper of our Lord (Year B)
1st Reading: Ex 12:1-8, 11-14; Psalm 115; 2nd Reading: 1 Cor 11:23-26; Gospel: Jn 13:1-15
We are the only community, although small, similar to the Cenacle in all its components. In the Cenacle there was Jesus, the Mother of the Eucharist, the apostles ordained bishops by Jesus and the holy women who, through the intercession of Our Lady, were eligible to participate in the Eucharistic Mystery. Well, here are present these four components. Jesus is now present in spirit, as He promised: "where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst" (Mt 18:20), but soon He will be truly present in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Our Lady too is present because, as we said many times, she is close to the Bishop every time he is celebrating the H. Mass. There is, and I say this with some embarrassment, the only Bishop directly ordained by God after the Apostles, then there are the holy women. So, in our small community there are all the elements to genuinely live, as Our Lady said, the great moment of the last supper.
In this celebration we enact two great sacraments and the great commandment of love: Priesthood is a function of the Eucharist and the Eucharist gives strength to Priesthood. These two gifts are in fact somewhat protected and surrounded by the great commandment of Jesus: the Eucharist is love, and it is understood with love only. The Incarnation and Passion of Christ, Son of God, are understandable only in light of the great love of God for Man.
Let me make you a confidence: during the recitation of the morning prayer with Marisa, when I ask our Lord a spontaneous intention, Our Lady is always there and lately, Daddy God is also there. When God the Father is present, also the Most Holy Trinity is present: God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, so this morning, turning to Jesus, I said: "Dear Brother, I am wishing You my best, for today is Your feast day, I thank you on behalf of the whole Church and all the priests for allowing us to attend Your priesthood and I wish that You may be known and loved more and more". Then I turned to the Mother of the Eucharist and added: "You from Heaven have taught us that when is the feast of the Son, is also the Mother's feast, hence to you too, dear Mother in Heaven, I am wishing you that you may, with your Son, but subordinate to Him because this is your deepest desire, to be known and loved".
Today in the Church the knowledge and love to Jesus the Eucharist and the Mother of the Eucharist are present, but they must be further strengthened. We are the ones to love them more, we have this responsibility, let us not think about the others.
This afternoon, in the closing prayer of the H. Rosary that Marisa and I privately recited, I addressed my wishes to myself, the Bishop ordained by God, that he may look like Jesus more and more, as Priest and Victim; my wishes were addressed also to Marisa that she may increasingly resemble Our Lady.
Tonight, my wishes are for each of you, that you may know and love Jesus more and more.
The relation between Bishop, Victim, and every member of the community will never break, as long as you keep them secure. Even when Marisa will be in Heaven and your Bishop will be somewhere else, remember that your duty is to bear witness with fidelity, generosity and humility before God and the world that the Church rebirth and renewal began in this place. Today I am giving you this command.
The aim of your mission is to defend and love the Eucharist. The men of the Church did not accept the miracles, but unfortunately they sullied them, making fun of them. If they do not repent God will be hard and inflexible with them. The Lord said: "Woes to those who speak badly of my Bishop" and this "Woes" is even stronger against those who desecrated the Eucharist. If they do not repent before meeting God, they will not be saved.
In today's Gospel passage, Peter did not like to have his feet washed by the Master, but Jesus said: "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand" (Jn 13:7). Peter understood the meaning of all this when he began to practice the role of Pope, living with a spirit of service, with no desire for power, victory or superiority toward the others.
Today, however, if you make a remark to a parish priest assistant or to a priest, they send you away saying: "Who are you to tell me this, I have studied!"
Then Peter, in the high priest court, betrayed Jesus. I do not like the term "betrayed", for Peter was scared because in that moment he found himself alone. If today you would find yourself in the same situation, that is to defend all alone the thaumaturgic place while all the others are accusing you, many of you would act as Peter did.
Despite this weakness, Jesus did not feel betrayed by the apostle, actually He endorsed him: "Simon son of John, do you love more than these?" (Jn 21:15). The Church must be governed by holy pastors, not perfect, because only God is perfect, but holy pastors.
Unfortunately today many priests, instead of having the appearance of the Good Shepherd, have the appearance of a mercenary. They seek honor, privileges, wealth, power and use the Church to reach their aspirations. The great lesson of feet washing, which very soon we too will act again, means that we priests must serve the Church instead. In fact, it would be an empty and sterile ceremony if you repeat this ritual every year without understanding its meaning.
The Church must be born again and go back to its primeval state. The apostles had their faults and failings, which unfortunately occurred even during the last supper, when they argued about who was designated to be first and then they left Jesus all alone in the Gethsemane. But after that, they all became martyrs and suffered struggles, persecution and hatred. Sometimes Our Lady spoke of these hardships and told us that the apostles went ahead despite their limitations, even if they were tired and tested.
On August 6 last year, in the feast day of Transfiguration of our Lord, when Paul VI and John Paul I were introduced to the Paradise of Vision, from the Paradise of Waiting, God asked me: "Do you love me more than these?" This question touched me and I understood the meaning later. God can ask the same question to each of you: "Do you love me more than these?" Each of us has a different ability to love others, but we all are called by God to fulfill our potential to get to love God as much as possible, then the meaning of the question is: "Do you love me with all your potential?".
Each one has his own frailties and weaknesses, but if there is love there are also many other wonderful things. You realize, then, the vast difference between the way of judging by God and by men. If, for example, the Bishop makes a note of impatience, you become Pharisees and are scandalized, while God has nothing to complain.
Many people, to whom at times we bear no admiration or esteem, to God they are truly holy. It is the Eucharist that gives strength, courage and light to change our own way of thinking.
When the Lord calls a person, He is not looking at the intelligence, culture, wealth, social position, political or ecclesiastical office he holds, but only if the man loves or if there is a little bit of love in his heart.
Many times, as priest and Bishop, I felt alone, betrayed and abandoned by my brothers and, believe me, it was hard to bear. You cannot figure out how much I talk with God about my brothers, especially my fellow seminarists; I pray for them and every Holy Thursday I celebrate the Holy Mass for all my brothers, both alive and deceased.
In these days of Holy Week, where the sense of loneliness is stronger, my Lord addressed me several words, but the most beautiful of all is that for every H. Mass I celebrate a priest is converted. Then I should not feel alone because if I look back through the eyes of the soul, I see hundreds of priests next to me.
Today I have made a rather wide speech because in my heart there are like many lights pulsating and igniting simultaneously that I am unable to describe. God is flooding my soul like a river of light that I need to analyze in order to explain it to you as I would like.
I close by entrusting the Church to the Mother of the Eucharist and ask her to spread her mantle over it. I wish Christ, true God and true Man, to extend His arms and put under His protection all of its component. I am not referring only to the institutional Church, but also to the spiritual one embracing people of all races, religions, cultures and social conditions, and that should be an anticipation of the Triumphant Church.
The Triumphant Church is in Heaven, where there are Muslims, Shinto, Buddhists and members of other religions. Here on earth there is the Temporal Church, which must resemble the Triumphant Church. Here is a new expression: the Spiritual Church embraces all men who, regardless of creed, race and everything else, are committed to love the Lord.
Our lady told us that the angels brought the Eucharist in the most earthquake devastated places such as L'Aquila, Paganica and Onna; this may not be the first time this happens, indeed, the Eucharist is carried continuously from Heaven to earth so that it may sanctify every corner with his divine presence. Perhaps this is the role of guardian angels: to receive the Eucharist from God and take it to earth. Remember that God, just with His presence, blesses and grants graces and all that is a source of consolation and joy.
Now we continue the celebration with the occurrence of the feet washing. As Christ washes and cleanses the apostles' feet, may He also wash and clean the soul of every member of the clergy and of every faithful of the spiritual Church, so that it may be really implemented what was called for in the Council of Trent: the spiritual renewal in the Church top hierarchy and in the faithful.