Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of April 13, 2008
1st reading: Act 2:14, 36-41; psalm 22; 2nd reading: 1 Pt 2:20-25; Gospel: Jn 10:1-10
"But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls". (1 Pt 2:20-25)
Today I would like to have with you a friendly moment of particular intimacy. Not as a priest or bishop who, with the authority coming from God, explains the Holy Scripture, but as an elder brother.
Everything is in God's plan and Providence is a divine action that you see, you experience and is palpable. If you would ponder and you would make a comparison between today's feast, Jesus the "Good Shepherd", and the readings, you would find a perfect assonance with the initiative I launched today. We, in different ways and with different intensity, have tried to do good; to do good is a very broad term and can hold various meanings as apostolate, teaching, testimony, or turn, with care and respect, to our own brother, trying to help him break free from his failings and achieve together the final embrace with God.
We do good even when going to meet with suffering. By now you know the story of my life and Marisa’s and, for about thirty-seven years, you know that there was not a day when we have tasted the bread of physical, mental or moral suffering. I think you too, on your table, have sometimes found the same bread and have tried to get it out of the way. Nevertheless, to implement the plan of God, He asks us to participate in the passion and death of His Son, in different ways and with different intensities: "To this you were called". You are called to bear witness and often this is bathed in blood.
Then Jesus said to them again, "Truly, truly, I say to you: all who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (Jn 10:8-10).
What saddens most is that those who inflict blows, wounds or cause suffering, are the ones who, for the office they hold, should instead remove and relieve them.
From shepherds they transform into mercenaries and, often, from mercenaries, as Jesus says in the Gospel, they become thieves, for they take what does not belong to them. The example that Christ gave us, and that we should follow, is to be truthful as He was. Being innocent, being God, "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth" (1 Pt 2:22).
One of the praise that Our Lady addressed to me, one I particularly care, is this: "The bishop, as a defender of truth, is the one who speaks the truth and is second to none". For the sake of truth I accepted what you know of. If I had not loved the truth, I would have been in a different situation. From my mouth or from Marisa’s mouth never was uttered the slightest deception. From my mouth, I can say it for sure, never came out the slightest deception because to deceive men, for me and for all, should be considered as an offense towards God, for it is the truth to be deceived, humiliated and offended. I can confirm this before God during the Eucharistic celebration; we have always told the truth, we always risked and payed for ourselves in order to tell the truth and never bowed our head before the ones who were appointed with high offices and we never accepted to offend God, by offending the truth. We behaved in the same way when we were subjected to insults: "When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate”, subjected from the highest levels of the church hierarchy, from confreres, from friendly people, from relatives and former members of the community. Christ complained that out of the ten healed lepers, nine did not go back to thank. But we have reason to believe that those nine did not behaved like some people who were part of this community, received graces and then left criticizing everything and everyone.
After about thirty-seven years, humanly speaking, this situation of almost stillness all around, got us tired and exhausted. You, in a much smaller measure compared to us, are participating in this situation of exhaustion and are participating just because you have witnessed, in your small way, loyalty and attachment to this thaumaturgic place, to the one-hundred-fifty-five Eucharistic miracles, to hundreds, if not thousands apparitions, to several Trinitarian theophanies and all the gifts God has bestowed on us. One of these is the ability to gain plenary indulgence of the Holy Year in our chapel. We must not forget it. We all have got to a situation, some more and some less, of exhaustion and fatigue, especially those who have truly loved and strove to be faithful to God.
Many powerful enemies still defy God. In them there is the fear that our Lord may reverse the situation, but instead of issuing a mea culpa, they are railing against those whom God sent in the Church to accomplish some missions, not being able to lash out directly at Him. "They laugh of the prophets sent by God", sneer behind their backs, they plot deceit and trickery and even organize attacks against us. If they would have used their intelligence they would understand that the many failures they achieved demonstrate God’s presence, support and protection. Instead, they do not want to see because they are blinded, they do not want to hear because they have closed ears, but their reaction, apparently at least, is triumphant. Actually, at night, they are haunted by nightmares and during daytime they are afraid that at any moment their apparent safety can be rendered illusory and turn into great fear. They are afraid of the occurrence of interventions promised by God because they fear them, otherwise they would not have certain reactions.
With this feeling and with the hope that God, during this year, would begin to implement his promises, I have declared 'The Year of Hope'. I accepted Our Lady’s invitation to dedicate this social year to hope, even if in my heart this desire had already bloomed. We just have to trust in God, our forces are scarce, we have neither human protectors nor economic means; everything would make you suppose or think that we are in a situation of extreme weakness and fragility such that, humanly speaking, there is nothing left to do but wait for the final defeat. There will be no such final defeat because we know God will intervene.
I wish and ask God to do as soon as possible what he promised. Yes, I dare to ask within this year, within the year of hope, but I need your help because to God, the graces are wrung through prayers, with big and small sacrifices, with fasting, with the Eucharist adoration, with the participation in the Holy Mass and approaching the Holy Communion with the grace of God. This is the commitment I ask you. We have many intentions to pray for, some suggested by God, others by Our Lady, or by myself, and there are also your personal and particular intentions. I am not asking you to forget them, I ask you to put before all others the intention that today I solemnly exposed to God.
I know that God is present because He has assured me about it, and every time I express the prayer in this way, He, actually the Trinity, in addition to Our Lady, St. Joseph, grandmother Iolanda and occasionally other saints as well, is next to me. So if God is present, it means that He welcomes and accepts it, we have to see if he accepts our request. We must ensure that the two things fit and are truly one the image of the other. God knows we are tired, that's out of the question, but we hope He will allow and show us that things will change as soon as possible.
I know that our Lord is working, Our Lady is working, we do not see anything for the simple reason that God's style is different from bombastic men. Remember as the saying goes: "A falling tree makes more noise than a growing forest". The forest is growing, but is growing silently. God is preparing priests and bishops for tomorrow’s Church, they will work with the future Pope. If God would like to intervene earlier we certainly would be happy.
Besides prayers, I would also like a personal commitment from you to grow in love, faith, hope, grace, hence, in holiness. This is because the more holy we are, the more close to God we are and we can make our voices heard by Him. Our Lady is the person God listens more, this is not always the case, as she revealed, although I would never have thought something like that. She is the one closest and more similar to Him. In this important month we must encircle God, not with hostile spirit, but with a filial spirit, as I suggested, in love, faith, hope, charity.
Marisa has explained it very well: when God is showing we feel more supported, more relaxed, more confident. When God is present, I would like that the meeting with Him would never end and I think that our good Dad is happy to meet us. The happiness of God is a surprising happiness, for His greatest happiness is to meet a few people. God has no need of crowd, He has not need of small people either, like us, however, He turns His affectionate and fatherly gaze more on small people, who recognize their smallness, than on big ones. He has horror and shame of big people because they think and feel they are like He is. Only God is great, men cannot, especially before Him, show themselves as great men. Those who reason in this way are far from God.
13th April 2008 - 13th May 2008: we will live an extremely important month, to which I look with great confidence and I wish you too would do it. Do not let yourself be lulled only by the initial enthusiasm, let it be, rather, a mutual help. If we become aware that someone is slowing down in his path and is trying to sit down because they do not want to engage further, let's give him a respectful and affectionate tap on his shoulder, Let's hold his hand and guide him forward. I and Marisa need you, unlike God, we need you because we want to feel surrounded by affection, almost protected, defended and understood. We need all of you, no one is excluded, no one is less important than others. We rely on the heart of each of you, and who knows if, in a month time, the urge to think of others may represent the mainspring that is required to push each of you to a more established and greater holiness. We can do it.
I am convinced that God, in this moment, is complacently and kindly smiling on what his bishop said and then I think I have, regarding our Lord, not because of me, but because He wanted it, an easier access, for I am the only bishop ordained by God. As I have said, with humility, many times during the prayer, I cannot hide it, I was ordained by Him and I think that this ordination puts me, always for his goodness, in a position to be heard more than my other brothers, not because I deserve something, but because He wanted it.
Just as He wanted the suffering, He wanted this distinction too, which I recognize, because if I would not recognize it I would be false and a deceiver. What you can do is go and pray before Jesus the Eucharist. Unlike what Our Lady asked, in order to end wars, to come here to pray, I will exempted you from such pilgrimages. If you wish, this Church is always open but because of the age, diseases and the problems that absorb you more and more, I invite you to go and pray in every church where Jesus is present, for it is the perfect place to talk and converse with Him. Go to Jesus the Eucharist and there you will also meet the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Mother of the Eucharist and the guardian of the Eucharist. Let us do this campaign; it will be the best gift you can give to your bishop and to your seer sister. Let ourselves go to the will of God, we do what we can, but it is up to God to decide.
On August 1, 2007, after one of my prayers you know of, in the collection of the letters of God of that time, I got one to be inserted where our Lord said to me: "I will consider what you said". I hope He takes into account what I just said, for it is not me and Marisa only to take advantage of it, but you all as well. It is right that the sorrowful mysteries will eventually cease, as Mary said, and we can sing the glorious mysteries, the triumph of the Church, the Eucharist triumph, the triumph of the Mother of the Eucharist, the triumph of the children of the Mother of the Eucharist.
Thanks for listening to me.