Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of September 14, 2008
1st Reading: Num 21:4b-9; Psalm: 77; 2nd Reading: Phil 2:6-11; Gospel: Jn 3:13-17
Today I could even do without homily because what you see gathered here, before me, on the altar steps, is all that can said, starting off a very deep and actual talk, but to help everyone, I think we should stop and ponder together. The starting point for this reflection of mine is taken from the last sentence of today's Gospel: "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him" (Jn 3:17). We are accustomed to consider history divided into two parts, before and after Christ's birth. But today I would like to point out another division criterion: the cross. If you look at the world history, its evolution, peoples succeeding one after the other and watch all this before the cross, before Christ's passion, death and resurrection, you will see that there are situations where you, at the most, can get up to justice, understanding and acceptance of others, but neither to holiness nor to indicate or even less to live the concept and substance of love. We can say that the world is still clouded and darkness, confusion, uncertainty and inability to navigate are over it. Then imagine with the soul eyes, not with those of the flesh, a big cross suddenly towering over the world: it is death, it is passion, it is redemption. The situation does not change to the uninitiated eye, but in the eyes of God, the ones that count, changes radically: darkness is rejected and is replaced by light. Respect and attention is accompanied or replaced by love; justice, as meant in human terms, is replaced by justification and by the grace of God. The first masterpiece jutting out from the cross is Mary, who is daughter of the cross, the ultimate masterpiece of redemption, for you know, and this was also clearly mentioned by Pius IX in the Bull defining the dogma of Immaculate Conception, that she is redeemed because the merits of the cross, passion and redemption were applied to her in advance. And then here you see, in this world full of darkness, a new dawn indicating the full noon of redemption. This is the masterpiece of God, is the light starting to enter the world, is the love becoming a reality in Mary's heart and, after her, either because less worthy, or because less holy, or because less perfect, there are all those who have been justified and redeemed by the drops of Christ's blood. Here is the cross changing the world, here is the cross dispelling all evil, here is the cross that is considered by many an instrument of death, but for us who have faith becomes an instrument of life.
What would be our life without the cross? We would be in the same condition as the Babylonians, Assyrians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and the peoples who lived in the Americas before its discovery, or in Asia or somewhere else. Compare the truth coming from God and the truth coming from men: only the truth coming from God, only His word has the force of justification, redemption and change. And here is the cross that stands out. Men have even tried to prevent the rays coming from the cross to light the world, for they interposed themselves between the cross and humanity, and these men are priests, popes, and those who were supposed to get the others to love the cross, but they took its place, they almost went through the experience of the Tower of Babel, have risen to glorify themselves, while man, as Paul says, must bow before the One who emptied himself of divine attributes to take on the human flesh and become like us in everything except sin. Here is the cross, that's why we must love the cross! The cross should not make us afraid, for the cross speaks to us about the love suffered by God; the cross speaks of the incarnation of God among men finalized to the sacrifice on the cross. The cross reminds us that if we can enter Heaven, we owe it to the cross alone. I can honestly say that when we will be before God for our personal judgment after death, He, in order to admit us to Paradise, wants to see the cross engraved on our soul, wants to see if it is present and if this cross gives light, warmth and love, for we have the grace, only then we will be allowed in; but if this cross is faded or erased, then the judgment of God will show us purgatory or, even worse, hell.
It is the cross that we have in our soul that opens the doors of Paradise, is a sign of belonging to God, allegiance to God, is a sign that we bow before Him, that we accept the redemption and the cross. In your life look at the cross, do not go inattentively past it almost without stopping or giving it a look, for it is there that you find the One who is amazing us for the love He gave us. Love it, look at it often, talk to the cross and then your days will be brighter and you will feel stronger because just as from the cross on the famous September 14, 1995 the Eucharist was released, so from the cross love and the grace of God are continually being released. We are praying for the revival of the Church and the Church will be reborn and you know to whom God has entrusted the task of changing it. But today we lay the Church in Christ's side. Do you remember where Thomas wanted to put his hand? Now we place the Church in it and the wonderful mystery of motherhood will happen again: a beginning, a hint of life that slowly is getting ready to become a person. And this Church now humiliated, hurt, partly destroyed, from where they usurped benefits and wealth, we secure it in our heart, or even better, in the pierced side of the Son of God, where it shall remain until the time of resurrection. Christ rises in the fullness of His will and His power, the Church will be reborn in the simplicity of what was at the time of its foundation, but everything starts from the cross, everything begins from the cross. In the cross you see the pierced and suffering face of Christ, but also the glorious face of the Redeemer, for the cross is always indicating the next moment, which is redemption.
That's why today we have to exalt the cross, that's why on this day so beautiful and solemn God wanted us to gather for a joyful occurrence, for us, and especially for Him: the first Eucharist miracle, His work, as were all subsequent 184 Eucharistic miracles and the Episcopal ordination. You may recall that on 14th September 1999 I officially began my Episcopal service on order from Christ himself. On that day I had on the Episcopal insignia, which I would have liked not to wear, and you know it. And it was again on September 14, the following year, and here on the steps before the altar you see the holder where the signed decree is, that on God's command these visions and these Eucharistic miracles have been recognized true and authentic by the ecclesiastical authority that was represented at that time, by God's will, by my humble self. My signature is in that precious holder but it will not remain alone. Take heed of what I'm saying: next to that signature, when God wills, a second signature will be affixed by the Pope willed by God and I believe I can say it will be the first document that the new Pope will sign early in his pontifical service. When next to the signature of the Bishop ordained by God, there will be also the signature of the Pope willed by God, then really it will be the beginning of the time of the Church transformation, painful in the early days, but that it will end in joy, for you do not do God and even the most powerful men will be placed in a state of ineffectiveness and ineptness. Truly, the words Jesus said will resound again: for them there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth and for those who followed God, the Eucharist, the Mother of the Eucharist, and you are among the first, there will be the full joy in seeing God's triumph, which we will still see marked by the presence of the cross.
The cross is life, the cross is victory, the cross is triumph. Love the cross.
Praised be Jesus Christ.