Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of September 27, 2009
16th Sunday in ordinary time (Year B)
(1st reading: Num 11:25-29, Psalm 18; 2nd reading: Jas 5:1-6; Gospel: Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48)
The best way for me to begin this sermon is to see a smile blooming on your face. We have gone through, and we are not yet fully out of it, a really tough and difficult moment, but God's help did not fail us and your prayers have accompanied and supported those who needed them most. For this reason I thank you publicly, and I am grateful to you because if we had not been helped by the grace of God, we would not have gone over those tough moments in which joy and sorrow mingled for Marisa's departure. I still get emotional thinking about the day when, God willing, we will have the clear meaning of what happened.
In our history, after all, there are many question marks, some already solved, many others not yet, some of them will be solved in Heaven only. The important thing is to trust in God, surrender to Him as children in the arms of their parents because only in this way we can taste the sweetness of the embrace of God and Our Lady.
Speaking about Our Lady, her appearances come to our mind. When you sang the Magnificat, you thought there would have been no apparition: this is a mistake because at that time, next to the Bishop, the Mother of the Eucharist, the Custodian of the Eucharist, the Victim of the Eucharist and The Victim's mother, Grandmother Iolanda were all present. We were not aware of it, but we came in escorted by a beautiful procession led by angels singing to God because the celebration of the H. Mass was about to begin. The Mass is the topical representation of death, passion and resurrection of Christ, a mysterious but real presence, unfathomable but true.
Now let us respectfully get close to the Word of God to receive those teachings that should help us to mature spiritually, to be witnesses of Christ, to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. In the Liturgy of the Word we have heard three extremely important and surprisingly topical readings.
"Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him; and He took of the Spirit who was upon him and placed Him upon the seventy elders. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do it again. But two men had remained in the camp; the name of one was Eldad and the other Medad. And the Spirit rested upon them; now they were among those who had been registered, but had not gone out to the tent. They started to prophesy in the camp. So a young man ran and told Moses and said: "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp". Then Joshua the son of Nun, the attendant of Moses from his youth, said: "Moses, my lord, restrain them!" But Moses said to him: "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!"" (1st reading)
"At that time, John said to Him: "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us." But Jesus said: "Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me: for he who is not against us is for us. For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward "." (Gospel)
If we compare the first reading from the book of Numbers, with the passage of the Gospel of Mark we see that, while the times are far from each other by many centuries, they are treating the same topic. We can say that the characters of the facts are different, but the events are identical. There are also highlighted a series of lessons that we have already acquired over the years thanks to the Mother of the Eucharist.
First of all, God is not tied to any institution: when He is working, He may act through it, but He can even do without it. The task of the religious institution is not to oppose God, nor to feel jealous towards those whom God has chosen to carry out a mission. In the Old Testament missions were related to the Jewish people, in the New Testament they are about the Church and the whole world. Remember that to see how the world is doing it is enough to look at how the Church is doing: if the Church is faithful to God, she is happy and prosperous, then the world is with God; but if the Church, or those who are responsible for its administration, go away from Him and try to hoard wealth and look after their own interests, they are in the same terrible situation as written in James' letter. The apostle, speaking of the rich, makes no distinction between laity and clergy. Anyone who wrongfully embezzles the income of others is to be condemned and censured: clergyman and layman alike.
Let us compare again the two passages: there are some chosen people in both of them. In the Old Testament God tells Moses to reserve seventy elders for Him because part of the spirit that God gave to Moses, He would allow to descend on them; in the New Testament the chosen people are the apostles. Well then, when faced with an intruder, the called ones or those close to them, react the wrong way. Hence another lesson from Christ: those who do good are certainly on his side, for man is either with God or with evil. If the man is with God, he will certainly act accordingly and everything he will be doing is for the purpose of worshipping God. Moses, upon whom God sent down his spirit to guide the people for so many years in the wilderness, makes a statement of impressive relevance to the present. He says, turning to Joshua: "Are you jealous for my sake?" Here we have again the plague of jealousy from which many times Our Lady tried to warn us, because it does not allow us to grow, is a crippling flaw, we live badly. If anything, Moses should have shown jealousy, not his helpers, but he utters a wonderful good omen that now I extend to you all: what God has given me, may He give it to you too; that is to say, I hope that to you too God may grant certain experiences, knowledge and insight through which we can live well, guiding ourselves and the others. Here I, following the example of Moses, ask the Lord just that. Moreover, in the passage of the Gospel, he who performs exorcisms in the name of Jesus is a stranger who has faith in Christ bigger than the apostles'. John reacts with envy and rashness when confronting with the stranger. We are accustomed to see him reclining his head on Jesus' breast and see him in the sweetness of preaching he expressed till the end of his life when, having no more breath, he would merely say: "My little children, love each other". Well then, look at what ripening has taken in this envious and lively young person, after some years he has become wise and teaches his people with the same teachings that also the Mother of the Eucharist has given us through the letters of God. In fact, our Mother has invited us to love all the time: "Love one another as I love you, as Jesus has loved you by dying for each of you and for giving all of himself for each of you". Either you choose God or choose Mammon; those who choose Mammon are in the situation described in the second reading. I say it again: no, no layman or clergyman can feel free from these fiery accusations. Those who take possession in an unfair manner and accumulate wealth with no concern for the others will have to answer before God.
I remember a prominent clergyman who during the war period when food was scarce, while children were crying and hungry because their mothers had nothing to feed them with, had cellars full of all goodies, supplies and food, and not being able to eat everything in a short time, often they would rot; in fact, instead of giving it to the poor and needy people, he kept everything to himself. When he came before God, He told him the same words as in the passage we just read: "Cry, scream for your miseries that shall come upon you", but the greatest misfortune that can befall men is the eternal damnation in hell. Now I will use a sentence that might be appalling to you: do we want to buy Paradise? Give to the poor, give to others while reserving for ourselves what is right, but give to others.
Right now I feel a bit uncomfortable but I must tell you the truth. You know that Our Lady has very much appreciated my act to donate to the needy the money that you gave me during special events like Christmas, Easter or the anniversary of my ordination. Our Lady said that if others of her children would have done that, it would have been very nice and fewer tears would have been shed.
We must be generous, as God was with us. Remember the parable of the debtor servants; one had to give back five hundred and the other fifty dinars. The one to whom was forgiven the more substantial debt, demanded with threats and jail terms, his fellow to restore what he owned him and rightly the master intervened and punished him. We have received much from God and we can give just as much, I am not talking about economy only, for not everyone can give, but as a case in point.
Marisa's departure should give us a thrust to strengthen our testimony. We probably raised some walls, we have shut ourselves in because here we feel good while outside there is uneasiness and misapprehension, there is a completely different world. But remember, my dear, even if we can change one single person to God we will have done so much already. It is sufficient to convert a person, as so often Our Lady said, to have the Heaven assured. I would like that at the beginning of this social year, in our personal commitments, we would have the courage to come out of our shell, to push our head out, to look around and see in what direction we can steer, not as irrevocable, severe and inflexible teachers, but as brothers helping others.
In the reading there is a meaningful sentence: "There is a time to be silent and a time to speak". So far the time was that of silence, now we will be seeking, simply and humbly, to plant the seed of the Word of God, of the Letters of God, so the ones and the others may come to Him to help our brothers to live with more serenity, without pretending to do something sensational or to rise to someone's attention.
My dear brothers, this world is scary, it is upsetting us, it is astonishing us, for it went too far away from God and it is still going away from Him and, as Our Lady said, is heading for its self-destruction, but we must stop it. God would have been willing not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if only there had been a just man among the residents. We, with no presumptuousness, think to be just before God, despite our failings, our limitations, our sins. On the other hand there is the confession: I too will repeat Our Lady's strong advice to never approach the Eucharist just because you are ashamed of someone else judgement, or out of human respect, if you are in a state of mortal sin. Sacrilege is dreadful. To the question: "How comes that some bishops, priests, cardinals have fallen so low?" There is just a dreadful reply: "They are sacrilegious". Sacrilege has no sense of good and evil or sin. The more one is sacrilegious the more he becomes evil. Do you think the devil has no fear of God and knows not that he will be defeated because God is Almighty? Yet, he keeps on fighting Him. There is no difference between these two questions: why the devil keeps on fighting God and why the clergy have no sense of sin. Because there is hatred and hatred is the direct and immediate son of sacrilege. All the people who have hated and still hate are sacrilegious and arrogant.
Now I would like to open our horizon to something beautiful. We are in the year of implementation of promises and when they will start only God knows. We are waiting, we want to be like the wise virgins with lit lamps and the oil supply ready to feed the flame, hence we want to be people feeding on prayers and Eucharist. We have another powerful person interceding for us in Heaven, our sister Marisa. To me, and to you all as well, the more the time passes the more we feel her absence. Humanly speaking it is right, but we know that she is close to us and, in an almost incomprehensible way, she is closer to us now than she was before because when you are with God you have potentialities that we cannot understand. Those who are before God see all and knows the reality, especially about the people related to him or to her and who is now before God and therefore our lives, our requirements, our days, our needs, are all known to Marisa.
Now let me bring to your attention the 24th and 25th October next. Saturday 24th, at 6 pm, there will be a vigil and the theme will be your experience, your memories, teachings and the wonderful examples you have received, for we are a community and any beautiful thing belonging to the single person may rightly be shared among all of us. On 25th there will be the H. Mass lead by the Eucharistic procession that Marisa used to care very much but could not participate except for just a few times and only for a short distance. I am sure that on 25th, around the Bishop, hopefully with more energy and strength, there will be Our Lady, St. Joseph, grandmother Iolanda and Marisa. The latter one, after so much time, will complete, for the first time, the entire route of the procession; she will be happy and for this reason she will adore and talk to her Spouse in favour of each of us. In the same day, at the end of the H. Mass, we will give you a gift you will surely appreciate: a gauze soaked with the blood coming from her stigmata, so much blood that sometimes we were unable to stop. However I would like that, at least for the time being, you keep it to yourself without showing it to others, otherwise problems could arise: do not throw your pearls before swine. We will give also Marisa's spiritual will with the photo portraying her mission as the victim of the Eucharist. In this picture Marisa has the open stigmata on her forehead and the Eucharist on it: the Divine Victim was resting on the human victim. I wish that in such a day every corner of this thaumaturgic place would express Marisa's triumph, there is no greater woman but Our Lady. The others may think whatever they want, but I say the truth, for I am repeating nothing but what God told us. A woman who lived in concealment, secretly, in persecution, misunderstood, who suffered more than anyone else when living and now more that anyone else she is enjoying in Heaven. Above her, as far as happiness is concerned, there are, among human creatures, Our Lady and St. Joseph only.
And now my dear, I thank you and hope you do not mind if once the H. Mass is over I retire, but I have to be careful. Offer also this sacrifice to God and then, when everything will be back to normal, we will sing, will have fun and will eat together because Our Lady has always invited us to have fun, and she said it referring to the young people in particular, in a healthy way. I felt joy and emotion in meeting you today and I believe you may have experienced the same feelings.
May God help us, may Our Lady protect us, may our sister plead for us.
Praised be Jesus Christ.