The good shepherd
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways - says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain and the snow
come down from heaven, and return not thither
but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower
and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
For you shall go out in joy,
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
for an everlasting sign
which shall not be cut off" (Isaiah 55, 8-13)
Victory and triumph pass through God's ways, that upset those of the impious, ways that man considered useless and meaningless, but they are so elevated and great in God's eyes that they upset the plans of those who opposed Him with a clear mind.
"But Jesus looked at them and said to them: "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible"". (Matthew 19, 26)
Now prostration, suffering and sorrow give way to joy, because in the certitude that God would not have let us die, we have understood that God's plans are coming true beyond all our expectations:
"I will be glad and exult in thee,
I will sing praise to thy name, O Most High.
When my enemies turned back,
they stumbled and perished before thee.
For thou hast maintained my just cause;
thou hast sat on the throne giving righteous judgment" (Psalm 9, 2-5)
God, infinitely almighty and omniscient, made use of two persons who have no human supports in order to bring the Eucharist back to its centrality. From the eucharistic miracles performed by God in the thaumaturgical place issued a so great strength that in every part of the Church and of the world the men have begun to understand that without the Eucharist there is no christian life, there is no holiness. God entrusted to the bishop and Marisa the mission of making the Eucharist known and loved, but with the humility and the simplicity of the good shepherd, the bishop affirmed: "It was not necessary that I went to speak, Christ went, who is infinitely better than me, because he is able to enter the honest and good hearts leaving the mark of his passing and saving them".
The bishop got ahead with his mission and led the community with great courage: "I was considered proud and presumptuous, but when there is the certitude of being on God's side we must go ahead respectless of everyone; however courage and strength are not personal gifts, but aids and extraordinary graces given to us by the Lord. If there were not the Eucharist I would not be here: it gave me light, lucidity and determination. Let's go on with courage, what counts is to be strong, ready and to pray for love of the Church". Without the Eucharist there is not the priest; this inseparable bond that God wanted to give to mankind raising the men to a so elevated dignity, is reason of guarantee of an announcement, whose strength is beyond all the human capabilities. The shepherd who is inseparably bound to the Eucharist and loves it with exclusive love, corresponds necessarily to the physiognomy of Christ, first, true and unique Master. In our bishop we recognize the great apostle Paul: they both embody the character of the shepherd who leads the community with love towards Jesus the Eucharist; as Paul did with his disciples, the bishop often urged us to have the same feelings of Christ: "It is always true that when the believers are driven and led with supernatural wisdom, they reproduce in themselves the features of the shepherd's face, just like the shepherd must impress on himself the feelings and the features of Christ's face".
St. Paul did not base his preaching on the human qualities, but on the strength of Christ's wisdom. In the first letter to the Corinthians is written: "And I was with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God". (1 Cor 2, 3-5)
So Paul decided not to worry anymore about the human means for speaking (rhetoric, eloquence, culture) because first of all the central point of his preaching is Jesus Christ and Christ crucified. He presented himself as a simple announcer of the Word of God, because it possesses a strong and overwhelming efficacy that manifests itself through supernatural actions, charismatic characteristics and numerous conversions.
The bishop explained to us that what counts is not our action, but God's action that manifests itself in a powerful and often hidden and humble way; God simply wants to arrive inside our hearts and many times He arrives there through the silence: "If we shepherds want to be Christ's imitators, we must be able to imitate also Paul without looking for polished citations. What counts is that in my preaching I let Christ advance and rise and myself diminish and disappear. Christ does not need my culture in order to be announced. He simply wants me to lend my mouth, my heart and my intelligence so that only in that moment the preaching is strong and effective. Only this way the shepherd, through the action of the Holy Spirit, will be able to lead the community of which he is put at the head to those heights of holiness that would not be achievable through the human means". So the preaching must have those canons of essentiality and simplicity, justified by the strength and the power that are already tangibly present in God's message as much as it does not need any further human contribution, that would never be able to add anything to God's wisdom.
From the good shepherd's action issues effects that are evident in the believers. When in Matthew's gospel Jesus said: "You are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world" (Matthew 5, 13-16) He contained, through some images, the characteristics of his disciples. The true christian is the one who brings a particular spice in the family and social environment where he acts. Who is full of God he makes God present wherever he is; sometimes we need contrast and courage to manifest our faith. You are the salt that gives the spice, but you are also the light indicating the path that must be followed by the man. The light is inside some containers and it explodes with all its power if the containers are terse, clean, not opaque or covered with dust. We must be carriers of light, that is we must live in a state of grace, without the venial sins that prevent the light from shining completely; the saint is the authentic and exclusive carrier of light, what is inside him shines with all its brightness and power.
In a grief-stricken and firm way the bishop told us: "I will not resign myself until we are not these terse and immaculate containers", so that this grace that God put inside us can light up all those who are in the house; the light must not be covered, but it must explode and we can increase its intensity, we can feed the grace which is inside us through the sacraments. Here is the touching solicitude and the immense love for the flock that should animate each shepherd, a shepherd who suffers even if only one sheep is not in the sheepfold and who comforts and confirms in the faith those who are already inside it. The conclusion is given by Jesus in a marvellous way in Matthew's gospel: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven". (Matthew 5, 13-16) These are the conditions to become authentic carriers of the announcement and to be worthy of the mission that God, through the bishop, entusts to us: witnessing in the world that the light of man is Christ, Christ crucified and triumphing in the Eucharist, unique certitude of salvation.