Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of May 24, 2009
1st reading: Jer 31:31-34; Ps 120; 2nd reading: Phil 4:4-9; Gospel: Jn 15:9-17
Marco and Paola, you have sought to emphasize the reason that prompted you to continue, in the thaumaturgic place, your human and, first of all, spiritual growth. You said that you have been impressed by my homilies. I now wish to return your compliment and I do it openly by underlining the intelligence, depth, sharpness with which you have chosen the passages of the Holy Scripture. You did have a wealth of pages, but you preferred those fitting like a glove to the hand wearing it.
Regarding the First Reading, the one from Prophet Jeremiah, maybe you wanted to pay homage to me, for you know how much I love this prophet where I have seen the realization of so many of my experiences. So much suffering and pain that I lived and live, were experienced before by this great prophet. Now a wonderful panorama opens before your eyes, and especially before the minds and hearts of those who listen.
"The days are coming - declares the Lord - when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them, This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time. Declares the Lord: I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another: Know the Lord, because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord; For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more" (Jer 31:31-34).
The concept that the prophet is showing in this passage is the considerable difference between the old covenant made between God and Moses, between God and Abraham and the new covenant, signed by Christ and sanctified with the blood on the cross. The difference emerging from this reading is, first of all, that in the New Testament, to which we belong, there is a greater intimacy and interiority already highlighted, before I did it, by the Mother of the Eucharist in the wonderful message she gave you, when she told that you are beautiful outside, for you are beautiful inside. Here is the secret of beauty. Some believe that it is sufficient to use estheticians or go to some center to revive their beauty, this too is welcome, but the beauty must come from within. If your heart is clean, if your love is honest, if your eyes show joy, then those who are close to you are aware of it, they appreciate it, they congratulate with you and exclaim: "How beautiful they are, what a handsome couple!" This is the wish that I and all those who love you want to give you: be always beautiful, even when you are eighty. We spoke yesterday of how nice is to see an elderly couple holding their hands, crossing their glance, smiling and encouraging one another in the problems and difficulties of life. Hold your hand always. I have united you at the beginning of the prayer, you were united while singing the Magnificat, you will be united in the celebration of marriage, you must be absolutely united forever. This is the first characteristic.
Second characteristic: your will must be stronger and more determined. The people who wrote that Christianity is a religion fit only for old people and children, did not understand anything because to exercise Christianity is a commitment, the highest, most difficult, the hardest that can be undertaken, for the simple reason that your will must always be exercised in rejecting evil and do good and you know how. It is such a strong commitment that it can be achieved only with God's help and with the grace, added to the one you will receive through the sacrament of marriage. Only if human effort and the grace of God are united we succeed to really transform our own lives in a continuous worship of God and a relentless act of love: starting with whoever is closest to you, husband towards his wife, wife to her husband, parents towards their children and so forth, widening the circle to include all relatives, friends and acquaintances who occasionally meet you for different reasons.
Third characteristic of the New Testament: Mercy, God's love is more real, more visible, you can almost touch it. The revealing God of the New Testament is also the God of the Old Testament, but what is Christ showing from the Father through the Word of God? Fatherhood. What does He show from the creature? Filiation. The Father and the Son. Read the Gospel, especially read the parables that Jesus taught and you will taste and savor the sweetness of addressing God as Father, indeed, as we do, Daddy; and as we feel like brothers, equally loved by God, we will give everyone a strong love. To whom should we give it first? There are no doubts. Paola must love Paolo, I mean... Marco... it would not be bad because then there is also an identity in the names; Marco must love Paola first of all. The principle is this. And remember: as long as you love her, as long as she loves you, you will love the others too. The moment you stop your mutual love you exclude the others from your love, children included. This is the rationale of separations and divorces. They separate because there is no love and I wonder if there was love before. Love possesses attributes that we need to highlight and recognize, for it is God who first gave the marital love the adjective and meaning of unity and indissolubility. The great events, the great deeds can not be separated from the context in which they occur and married love is a great event that should be respected, enhanced, improved from the beginning, from day one up to the last. Today Our Lady has told you that the best day of your love will be the last one you will live together, in fifty or one-hundred years. Are they enough for you? Have I to add some more years? No? I guess you will be too crooked, too ugly and all that brings joy to you.
Let us go now to the Second Reading, taken from our great friend Paul. "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you!" (Phil. 4:4-9).
The exhortation he is repeating twice is: "Rejoice!" How nice it would be when, every morning, waking up, looking at each other, a smile will blossom, your eyes will lighten up: "God has granted me to enjoy your presence for another day". Here is the joy, the joy coming from within. It is not the outer beauty that should strike you, but your heart, where God is present suggesting, helping and supporting you. In this way the married life, despite difficulties, problems, sufferings, will be lived in joy, in a never ending pursuit that must see each of you committed to giving. The secret is this. In marriage, we must not demand, we do not need to receive, it is wrong. If one gives, the other gives, you will be pretty much always happy and always full. Instead if you pursue the selfish mentality of the man or woman who expects the other to give, your heart will always be unhappy. In this way, on the contrary, as you will be giving, you will give more and more, the joy in you will increase and, as Paul says, do not worry about anything. There will be a problem, a disease, the child's little tooth keeping you awake, as is happening to Gioele and his parents these days. No nervousness, no tension, but joy, because this great love surrounds each of you and envelops the other person, it is uniting you and is offered daily by God. If we have the concept of God's fatherhood, we can talk, converse with Him. Paul says: "Expound your requests to God". He can give, and He gives what seems proper to his omniscience and omnipotence. Do not confuse our needs, our values with those of God. It could more important to God to give something different from what you have asked and you must accept it. This is love, this is faith. With this strong charge you will seek and act one for the other, pursuing, as Paul says, only what is noble, true, just, pure, lovable and honorable. This is the Christian family, I know of no other. The training that these guys have received is exactly aimed to live these concepts and turn them into reality and experience, so we find ourselves in the situation described by Jesus in the passage you have chosen: "I tell you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be full". Where is joy? Where God is present. Where is sadness? Where God is absent. We can also say: where is joy? Where there is love and God is love. You must engrave in your mind and heart the new commandment "Love one another" and here too, the hierarchy sees at the first place, the wife for her husband and the husband for his wife. Not much else to do to be happy, my dear. You walked into the church, Marco arm in arm with his mother, Paola arm in arm with her father. You will go out embracing each other, but you are not just the two of you, there will be God with you always, there will always be the Mother of the Eucharist who wanted to be present and, you know it, when in a few moments the rite of marriage will start, she will spread her mantle over you just to underline, highlight her protection. Have you chosen Christ or has Christ chosen you? You know the answer. After He has chosen you, you too have chosen Him and you have made the most beautiful, most important and precious of choices, for this choice ensures to you what we can only wish with words: joy, happiness, understanding and dialogue. With this spirit has your time come. Praised be Jesus Christ.