Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of November 30, 2008
1st Reading: Is 63:16-17, 19, 64:2-7; Psalm 79; 2nd Reading: 1Cor 1:3-9; Gospel Mk 13:33-37
If you compare today's three readings, and ask, as usual, to be enlightened by the Holy Spirit, you too can easily understand to what they relate and how they can be applied. I always told you that it is essential to read the Word of God because it is always actual and may also refer to different subjects.
The first reading is from Isaiah, inspired by God about seven centuries before Christ, but his words can be perfectly adapted to the Church current situation which is in fact precisely in the same condition as the people of Isaiah were in that period. But as God did not stand apart from his people despite their serious infidelity, so God would never leave the Church He founded even if faced with the enormous sins committed inside it. With these assumptions, you will notice that the reading will have a different flavor. One of the mistakes we priests, we bishops make, while preaching the Word of God, is that we often make fuzzy talks, lacking substance. I would like to have more time, but now I want to focus on some sentences: "O Lord, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not?" In today's Church sins of pride and immorality are committed, and this is before everybody's eyes. Shepherds are not according to God's heart and instead of caring and feeding their own flock, they think of themselves and leave the flock forsaken. They do not behave like Jesus, the Good Shepherd who goes searching for the lost sheep, or like the Good Samaritan who takes care of the person injured by the robbers, they only think to enthrone and go after human recognition. This makes the Church stand back more and more because the shepherds leave the sheep to fend for themselves and fall prey to the wolves; they lose their way and do not return to the fold. In this situation are apt the words that we recite in the prayer for the Church, represented by a vessel from where passengers are tossing out, while the ship's officers, instead of repairing it, are opposing each other and pursue more of their interest. Let us not consider our community, but let us think about the Church. There is this feeling of demise, emptiness, for it seems that God is detached, that Jesus is detached, but it is exactly the opposite; the faithful are the ones who have gone away, so it is them who have to go back, for God never moved. "To go back" means "conversion", and until there is no such conversion, the situation will remain critical and dangerous. "Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down": on these words some false prophets have invented many things: Christ's return on clouds, the three days... and I do not know how many more, let me say it, they are nonsense that led to confusion; and it is for this reason that we ask God to intervene in a powerful way to restore His Church. Restoration cannot depend on the same people who made it ugly, wounded, vulnerable, they did not succeed to kill it though, for the Church stands firmly on the rock and will never collapse. However, it was badly affected and this happens every time that one of the Pastors or sons offends God by sin. Every sin spoils the Church more and more. "When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence"; it is always the power of God manifesting in many ways and we want these events to happen because until then the situation will not change. I should continue but then I would not have the time to explain what is the attitude that the faithful should have in this catastrophic situation. I do not like to talk about disasters, earthquakes, this is not my style, but I cannot avoid thinking, and bitterly, on a really grave situation, and Christ, in the face of such a situation, as Mark says in the passage we have read, comes to us and tells us how we should behave. Not even today this passage has to be applied to our community, but to the whole Church, so this strong verb, exhortation, imperative from Christ: "Be on guard", means consider, think, do not be superficial, ponder what I'm saying: "Keep awake". Today I would shout this exhortation to all honest shepherds, to all the good faithful of the Church who really suffer the sad situation of Holy Mother Church. Sadness, and we know it well, can be exhausting and dreary, can be debasing and depressing, this is when, faced with this situation, the imperative of Christ: "Keep awake", must start from those who are honest, though just a few, for it is Jesus Christ making up difference. You know, as I told you many times, that a small number with the addition of infinite, has infinite value. A number, no matter how large, with no infinity in addition will always be small. We often spoke of the "remnant of Israel", consisting of a small group that, in the general confusion of the people, retained the monotheistic faith in Yahweh and faith in what God had made known to his people through the prophets. I believe, and I have no reason to doubt it, that we are part of this "remnant of Israel". Although there are others like us, but we are, and I dare say without pride, the most lively and vital core of the "remnant of Israel". That is why we have heard many times the exhortation of Christ "Keep awake" and we would like to say it to all the people who, honest and faithful, want to go and meet Christ with a real spirit of faith, shouting Maranatha! Maranatha, my kids, means "Our Lord, come!" The image of this master who entrusts his property is quite clear, it is Christ who is behind all this, He has entrusted his servants the responsibility, power and command to serve our brethren. Well then, shepherds will be held accountable to Christ for this, when God will show. We do not know when God will begin to act, but with us there is the healthy part of the Church, waiting and suffering, probably not as much as we do, but certainly with us. I think I can say that no community, especially those who lead it, can say before God that they suffer as much as we do or are suffering more than we do. This was said by Our Lady in a private apparition a few days ago when she stated: "There are others who suffer and mourn, but not as much as the two of you" and we know it from experience, a terrible and daily experience afflicting us, tormenting us and crushing us. "What I say to you, I say to everyone"; this is Christ's finale which could not be timed better. At this time, Jesus is talking to us, a small group of faithful, yes, but they are fond of him. Tell these things to others because the word of God must be transmitted and communicated without being distorted, without the addition of any human word. Only the word of God must be light, courage, and must show the path to each of us. The Church is at a point of particular labor and we know something about it because we carry the consequences, but every labor must come to an end. Reconnect, even though it was short, to today's letter. Our Lady twice said: "It seems I am kidding you by saying take courage", for she knows how we are suffering, she knows we are waiting anxiously. Today's exhortations: "Keep awake", "Be on guard", were not addressed to us, I can say this with full knowledge of the facts; we are awake, we are attentive, we strive to peer from afar any indication, any movement that can make us think and hope that God is going to start its operations. The year of faith is welcome, but a faith must be always directed and have goals. Faith, yes, but we say to the Lord: "We know your goals which are ours too, well then, hurry and do what we have always believed in". We also complained strongly, and it is right because human nature must vent, but in the end, if we are still here it is because in spite of everything we believe or rather we want to believe that God will do what He must do. Eventually I say: "Lord, we dare repeat to You what You said to Judas, quickly do what you have to do because we are tired and cannot stand it anymore".
Praised be Jesus Christ. Now and forever.