Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of December 28, 2008
1st reading: Gen 15:1-6, 21:1-3; Psalm 104; 2nd reading: Heb 11:8, 11-12, 17-19; Gospel: Lk 2:22-40
From Bethlehem cave, along with the harmonious singing of angels, a powerful light springs forth; it does not dazzle, but it warms up, lights up and focuses on the two most important human realities: family and children. The latter are those we speak more often, but are not much loved. I like to think that today in Heaven the family is praised and loved in a special way. Nothing is impossible to God and Jesus, being God, can show at any time under the semblance He experienced during his earthly life: as a child, as a twelve year old boy, as a young man and as a mature man. I love to think that the same is happening in Heaven. During Christmas season, at the end of every Eucharistic celebration, we love to kiss Jesus, not in the flesh, a privilege that just a few have while living on Earth. We are content to kiss a small thaumaturgic statue of Baby Jesus, but I am persuaded that in Heaven the situation is completely different. You know that in Heaven, those who are in the so called Waiting Paradise see Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the saints, but do not see God. Instead those who are in the Paradise of Beatific Vision see God as He is and enjoy this vision. They also see the body of Christ and Our Lady, since she ascended to Heaven with body and soul, and they also see all the angels. Today I love to think that the inhabitants of the Waiting Paradise and of the Paradise of Beatific Vision, see the Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus in the flesh. Just as today we are going to kiss this small statue, now in Heaven all the angels and saints are kissing Baby Jesus offered to them by the Queen of Heaven, Mother of the Eucharist, Mother of God, Mother of Christ.
Why have we never thought of all this? Why in God's light, and today this light comes from Bethlehem cave, we never stop and think enough that whatever nice happens on Earth occurs in Heaven too, multiplied immensely? Yes, today in Heaven everybody sees Baby Jesus. Perhaps there is another thing, I say perhaps because I still have not gone to Heaven, but after reflecting on this beautiful reality I give you my thinking. Today is the feast of the Holy Family, so today Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, just as it happened in the reality of their earthly life, they are again together and receive the homage from all the inhabitants of Heaven, as it happened on Earth from shepherds and Magi. Is all that so bad? Is it unthinkable? Is it outrageous? No, it is wonderful. Keep in mind also the fact that the shepherds went all together to the cave. The Magi were able to reach the cave because they were united, they were not divided, they did not argue when choosing one road over another. Today, Jesus in Heaven receives the homage from all the families who are lucky enough to be in Heaven. I think, I believe, hope, and love to hope and think that in Heaven families are reassembled so that we can go together to honor God the Baby. I well know, for Jesus said it to us, that once in Heaven we will be like angels, we will see God as He is and there will be no need to get married. Our Lady speaks of Joseph with expressions we know such as: "My beloved husband" so why a bride who is in Heaven could not use the same language as Our Lady and talk about her husband and say: "My beloved husband" and her husband, speaking of his wife: "My beloved wife" as Joseph did when speaking about Mary? And then let us imagine the beautiful procession of these families who sing and glorify God, reciting psalms, singing hymns and going forth as an immense and immeasurable procession to honor the Baby, the Baby's Mother and the Baby's putative father. It is really beautiful this show from which we would never detach.
However, if you turn your eyes onto planet Earth where we belong, we see a different reality, an opposite scenario to what I have just presented and described. Today, especially the western world is thinking that abortion and divorce are symbols of achieved democracy, development and civilization and is boasting about it. Divorce and abortion are deadly weapons destroying families and killing children. That's why Our Lady said: "Pray for families, pray for children". What is the secret of good success in a family and the happiness that should reign in it? It is union and stability. Both were secured by Christ, who is God, with the institution of the sacrament of marriage. You all, who attend this place and have partaken in the celebration of marriages between couples of our young people, have well understood that marriage is not only an outward rite, even if it satisfies emotions and arouses feelings, but it is a gift that God bestows onto a man and a woman, with whom God, if the couple agrees, commits to keep love, respect and dialogue between them. Union and sharing: this is God commitment. And men, how are they behaving? By thinking to conquer who knows what, to express their freedom, their own choice, they turn their back to God and do not realize that in this way they sign their own unhappiness and misfortune.
The Holy Family model is the one we have to get inspiration from. Abortion is murder, but I do not want to talk about it today. Today, in every part of the world, many children, millions of children continue to die, not because they are killed by abortion, but by human selfishness. The world would have the potential to sustain and offer decent life to billions of people, a very large number, larger than those currently living on Earth. Instead, why are innocent children snatched from life by hunger, thirst and disease? Because human selfishness is so overflowing that knows no boundaries. It is absurd, appalling and disgraceful that today many children are deprived of the necessities of life. The fault lies on Herod's successors. Rulers might argue: "But I have not given the order to kill the children". But if you do not help them, despite having the opportunity, you're like Herod. The great Pope Paul VI, whom I loved and I still love in a particular way, uttered a sentence that even today makes you think: "Men of poverty are crying to be helped by men of opulence". Among men of opulence I see not only politicians, but also men of the Church. It is absurd that you, while boasting to be a man of God, have a bank account and real estate reaching mind-boggling numbers and you alone, or a small circle of people at most, enjoy this wealth. You, who say you are a man of God and behave in this way, are a Herod. I, Bishop ordained by God, blame you before God to be a Herod. For you could have fed millions of people and you did not. And Christ's words are dreadful: "For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink" (Mt 25:42). Are you shocked because I'm telling you this? Then you should be shocked by what Christ said: "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41). Today's Herods are more cruel and wicked than the historical Herod we know, because they are hypocrites, more deceitful and invite others to give, while they give nothing. When I will come to Heaven I will say to the Lord, and you too can say it, for you too were generous: "I thought of my poor brethren, of the little ones, I gave what I could give, I could have keep the money and I gave them to the poor, to the needy". This will open the gates of Heaven, and then we will hear Jesus saying: "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world" (Mt 25:34).
Entrance in Heaven is guaranteed by love and becomes true for many people, especially for those most vulnerable, frail and needy as children are. I wish today in our community and tomorrow throughout the Church, beginning with the Pope and followed by all other members of the hierarchy, that every Christmas we would give up all gifts and allocate our offers for the benefit of the needy and, above all, of children. Woe to those who will not do it. Today I commit myself with all my strength and I will try to do this. Where I will meet love I will say I have found cooperation, but where, unfortunately, I will find oppositions I believe the Lord will give me more strength to eradicate these oppositions. It is our duty as Christians and followers of Christ to cry with those who cry, to suffer with those who suffer, for this is, my dear, the virtue of compassion, a word meaning to bear with, suffer with, and that is what we must do. And then, dear Baby Jesus, you see at the moment all the world's children, collect the tears of these innocent children, the tears of mothers who cry and suffer because they have nothing.
Last night, while talking to some of you, I made this observation: no one has ever talked about the great suffering that Our Lady endured for she had nothing to give her Son. Today there was a sentence that highlighted what I said yesterday. Our Lady, in fact, said: "We had not even the essential and some good soul had to give us what we needed". Sometimes we do not pay proper attention and importance to sentences. Who got in Mary's and Joseph hearts and saw their distress? They wanted to give Jesus a lot more, they lacked the essential, they did not have a house, a cradle, clothing, they had nothing. We cannot remain indifferent in this situation and we must think that they suffered in an awful way. Yesterday I said that to understand something of Mary's and Joseph suffering in this particular situation, you have to think, and I say this to those who are parents, How much you would have suffered if you had not been able to give your children what you have given. How much would you have suffered? Why don't we think and don't we respect the pain of these mothers who see and hear their children crying, and have nothing to give them? It is a huge pain, a dreadful suffering. We welcome Our lady's invitation and pray for those in need, so that in the Church may decrease the Herods who wear gaudy colored robes, purple, red, and I'll stop here. I say these things not because I want to scare you, but only because I want you to be aware of the sad and appalling situation that we face today in our nations and towns: poverty. So who is poor is becoming increasingly poor and those who are rich is not even able to understand and hear the child's cry invoking a bit of milk and the mother, at home, has nothing to buy it. One cannot remain indifferent to all this.
You see that once a year I wear, over the chasuble, although it is a small liturgical misuse, a stole depicting the Holy Family. It is an invitation addressed to you and that tomorrow will be addressed to everyone, so that we may pray and help, as far as possible, the poor and families in need. I believe that Christ chose to be poor to push us to help those in need. The poverty of the whole world is included, is present in His poverty, in His hardship is the deprivation of the whole world and in His necessities are present the needs of the whole world. Have you wondered why, in spite of Mary and Joseph having God with them, they had no food to eat and were waiting for alms? The One who created Heaven and Earth and before Him the angels would kneel in adoration, saw that his father and mother needed to eat, He could miraculously intervene, but he did not, so we may understand what today I have tried to make you understand. Jesus wanted to be poor because the poor, as he said: "you always have with you", but the attitude towards them must change. Enough with the hypocritical attitudes that only at Christmas we think of the poor almost to calm and silence our conscience and then, for the rest of the year, we feel in order just because we made something good. Those behaving like that are hypocrites. For as you eat every day, even the poor eats every day, as you need care and medicines when you are sick, they are always sick, because of the cold, poor nutrition and lack of medicines lead them to be more inclined to illness than you who are wealthy. I conclude by saying: Lord, have mercy for the selfishness, indifference, non-existent love of those who should serve you in the neediest brothers and instead think only to hoard money, wealth, fortune and benefits for themselves.
First of all please set aside on 31st a little space to thank God, as a community. I have to say that without God's help some young people and children of the community would not be here today. We must proclaim it loudly and we must thank God that prevented us from shedding many tears. Even at a community level I must say that if it were not for the help of God, we would have collapsed, beginning with the one speaking to you, the Seer and you all. This is because we are tested and tired, but God prevented all this. The Lord has confirmed this a few days ago when Marisa who told him that we were about to collapse, replied: "I am God and I will not allow it". I'm the first to hope that soon will happen what He promised, but now it is right to thank God for the aid He has given us. So let us set aside a little space to do it and let us be grateful. I say it again: help was given to us.
On January 1st the new solar year begins: the sun reminds us of the Eucharist, the Year of Faith begins, which tells us that we need to be in an attitude of complete and total trust in God. Best wishes to me first of all, to each of you and your families. May God help us all, support us, bless us, comfort us and give us the joy of living, for at times, also this one is missing. Let us not withdraw as many have done, but let us be united with God, because He said it us in every way: "What I have promised I will keep", in His own time and manner. But we also say: "If you are our daddy, do in such a way that our desires of small creatures may match your desires of great creator". My best wishes. May the Lord sustain us, embrace us, protect us and guide us towards holiness.