Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of June 22, 2008
1st reading: Jeremiah 20:10-13; Psalm: 68; 2nd reading: Rm 5:12-15; Gospel: Mt 10:26-33
I hear many whispering, terror on every side! Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!” All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying: “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him.” But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten. Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance on them, for to you I have committed my cause. Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked.
I believe that the passage taken from the first reading would suffice to have your agreement, intellectually as well as emotionally, to what I have already said several times. Jeremiah is the prophet I love most because many times I have seen myself in his life, in his experiences, in the convictions he got, in the bad judgments the authority of the time hurled at him. He is a prophet, a man who lives and embodies the mission God has entrusted him, with suffering, but he is always drawn to God: "You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived” (Jer 20:7), he is the prophet who probably, compared to the others, ended his earthly life in a more drastic way, as he was killed. Anyway he is the prophet who went straight on his own way, without giving up and without granting anything to anyone, is the one who lived in a genuine and generous way the difficult task God has entrusted to him. When God calls a soul and entrusts him with tasks, whatever they are, these are always very tough and difficult and those who are called to incarnate and realize them suffer immensely. If you see a person who says or make you understand or is said to have been called by God and you see him living in fulfillment, joy, contentment, satisfaction, absence of trouble and suffering, you can surely say there is no God there; but if you look at a person and see him moan, suffer and stricken by human wickedness in all possible and imaginable ways, then you have to say that God is there. Suffering means authenticity of mission, absence of suffering means human deception that tries to make you believe that God has called for a mission. To make you understand what is the extreme difference, I let myself be on Jeremiah’s side and tell you: analyze my existence and do the same with the life of the person all the newspapers are today talking about and of whom the television reported to have celebrated an ecclesiastical anniversary, and you will understand to whom I am referring to. You will realize that there is no suffering in this person, but sadly he is the one causing suffering. I can say, together with Jeremiah, "Terror on every side", that is, just look around and you see a multitude of enemies that are ready to hit you. Once, while speaking to Our Lady, I said to her: "Don’t you see that Marisa and I are treated like San Sebastian, for we are struck by all the arrows from all sides?" The one who is innocent and who carries on with the mission generates unconceivable envy and jealousy. The greater the mission that needs to be brought forward the greater the envy and jealousy born in the heart of those who should support it, instead they oppose and impede it to the point of organizing anything to deceive him and make him fall. Once he has fallen, they show their brothers that the mission he was carrying forward was not true because he fell. But the one who suffers and is carrying out the mission is weak and it is normal to fall as Christ fell on the slope to Golgotha, as Elijah who threw himself under the tree because he was physically exhausted and pursued by guards, as Peter who fell before a woman who had simply asked him a question, as the apostles who fled and then returned scared of what was happening to their master. This human weakness exists and coexists with the greatness of the mission. I told you to look at suffering and at love, but sometimes humanity and fragility make it feel and experience powerlessness and it is good to be so, so we do not fill with pride, in this way, once we have fallen, we could prevail and we will take our revenge. Remember the one who said: "I will avenge and destroy", once more there is this big likeness and these are prophet words, these are not words of resentment or rancor, but of affliction and we cannot condemn and criticize him if he experienced these wonderful and human feelings. At the same time he is aware of his weakness and fragility and addresses the one who is powerful and almighty, as the child who feels threatened raises his gaze and calms down to see his dad and mom near him, so the prophet, the Apostle, the one who has received the mission from God, will look up in Heaven and feel on him God's love present and active and God’s mercy to refresh himself; any prophet who is sided by God can say: "The strong and powerful Lord is here" and our Lord, as Our Lady says in the canticle of the Magnificat, "Has put down the mighty from their seat". You see, there is a wonderful link and, once more, at the right time, at the time set by God, not a minute before or a minute later, as Our Lady often reminded us, God's enemies will fall, one over the other, at the amazement of those who attend this catastrophe. Even those who had built the tower of Babel had come so high, and the more they went up, the more they came into conflicts and did not understand each other because they were closed to dialogue, talk and to the experience of giving to the other and lived only for the expectation of receiving. "My persecutors will waver, they will not prevail, they will blush because they will not succeed, and it will be an eternal and inconceivable shame for the persecutors." Be mindful of who the persecutors are: perhaps the poor, the sick, the weak, the ignorant, the disadvantaged, the prisoners, who are they? The powerful ones, yes the persecutors are the powerful ones, both in the Church and in the national state. Now I will do something that I have never done in so many years. You know and can testify that in my homilies, catechesis, bible classes I only mention the Sacred Scripture, public and private revelations, I just quote the Heavenly authors. Rarely, and you know this, I've made quotes from authors not present in the Sacred Scripture because those of Heaven are so clear, so beautiful and so rich that it seems superfluous to quote those of the Earth. I want to quote Cardinal Martini, who in turn quoted us by invoking the Mother of the Eucharist at the closing of the feast of Corpus Christi. Cardinal Martini had a spiritual retreat for priests at the beginning of this month, so the news is very fresh and by reading what he says it will certainly come to your mind what God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, Our Lady, St. Peter, St. Paul, Paul VI and other great characters who, with God’s permission, spoke to us. You will see that they say exactly the same things. Listen to what this cardinal says, sick and suffering for Parkinson, and occasionally he even had to stop the exercises he was doing to go to hospital for treatment. It is his will, he lived it as such and said: "Before I die I must speak to the Church and say what I have not said before." The only reproach I want to make is why he did not speak before, but it is better late than never. He took inspiration from the letter to the Romans that we too are talking about, look at the coincidence, and he is talking about sin; Cardinal Martini stated that all sins, none excepted, were committed, in the Church history, by priests, nuns, monks, cardinals, bishops, and even popes. How many times have you heard this from me? And he talked about the capital vices of the Church with no fear and aware of speaking about extremely unpleasant things. He wanted and insisted on speaking about sins concerning the priests and said that these sins can be, in his opinion, divided into outer sins: fornications, murders and thefts affecting the whole Church history, and we know that daggers and poisons have always been present in the Vatican. And then there are those inside the Church: cupidity, wickedness, adulteries. The former archbishop of Milan believes that the clerical vice par excellence among priests, ecclesiastics and up to the top is envy. Doesn’t all this ring a bell? If we would have said it, or even better, if God or Our Lady had said it, they would be shocked, but it was said by one who has had very important duties because he was not only Archbishop of Milan but also chairman of all the Bishops' Conferences of Europe, then nobody is shocked. Now you better understand when Our Lady says: "Because they think about power and career." The other great sin in the Church is slander, yes, Martini says: "I must also tell you about the existence of slander. Blessed are those dioceses where there are no anonymous letters, when I was Archbishop I commanded to destroy them, but there are whole dioceses ruined by anonymous letters, perhaps written in Rome. I want to firmly hope for a renewal in the Church, I must say it because it will be the last retreat I will have and this is part of the choices made by an old person on his home straight, there are so many things I have to say to the Church. Talk about the flaw present in the Church, that is vainglory", and it so happens that he cites this form of vanity manifesting in the clothing, and one might say that he was inspired by Our Lady’s messages. Martini mentions some examples: "Some time ago the cardinals had a six-meter train, Churchmen are continually dressing with useless ornaments." The cardinal warns priests against the terrible arrogance of careerism, "They think about their career", this too, how many times have you heard it from Our Lady. Even in the Roman Curia each one wants to prevail over the others, certain things are not said because they are known to block their career. This is a very serious evil in the Church, especially in the one arranged according to hierarchy because it prevents us from telling the truth, they try to say what is pleasing to their superiors, trying to act according to what one imagines is their desire. Unfortunately, there are priests who set themselves a goal to become bishops and they succeed, there are bishops who do not speak in order not to block their candidacy to become cardinals. We have to ask God for the gift of freedom, it is Jesus who said it, truth will make you free, I can say that I have never feared anything and have always said open-faced what I was intimately convinced, I paid hard but this is what I did. We are called to be transparent, to tell the truth, it takes so much grace, but those who come out of it are free. I believe, at this moment, that this suggestion comes from above. I believe that cardinal Martini wanted to do the identikit of the future Pope, this is what he did not say, but I think I can say that it is the hope that sustained him to speak like that, he has reached the age of eighty and even if he would have been alive, he would not take part in the next conclave, but he thinks he has come to the finish line, and before saying goodbye he says: "Well, if you want a Pope who really guides the Church, he must be devoid of all these capital vices I have spoken about and have the gift, strength and courage to be free and not conditioned by anyone." And then, what can I say, pray for this to happen and then, since we are here, I thank God because this is the best way to close our social year, thinking and reflecting upon the evil in the church. You know that the Church will be reborn, then there will be this encounter between divine and human, God who guarantees this rebirth and strong and courageous men who begin to go out of this conspiracy of silence and defend the truth. In this regard there will be the time of contact between Heaven and Earth and we will see all Heaven deployed to carry this truth forward and the victory belongs to Heaven, for God is Almighty, but God wants human cooperation too, then not everybody, for it would be impossible, but some of the honest, sincere, generous and unselfish priests, bishops, and cardinals will work together, but this was already promised by Our Lady. Now you understand why I always ask you to read again and again the Letters of God. "We are preparing good bishops, maybe not very good ones", Must I always remind you everything? And then we wait for the contact between Heaven and Earth to happen because at the time of contact, you know that when you unite the poles, positive and negative, a sparks will occur, and we wait for it.