Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of November 1, 2007
All Saints Day
1st Reading: Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; Ps 24; 2nd Reading: 1 Jn 3:1-3; Gospel: Lk 18:9-14
Today I want to make a confession. Three different sermons are taking shape simultaneously in my heart, they are struggling to get together and find a way to my mind so that all of you can listen and understand what I want to tell. I find it hard to choose between these three different sermons because my soul has mixed feelings and makes different reflections, which lately are persecuting me. I will try to say the less traumatic of the sermons because I do not want to burden your mood, especially to those who already carry the cross of suffering. I do not give anyone my cross because I know that each of you has his own, small or large, for no one is exempted. Sometimes, unfortunately, the weight of the cross is so heavy and oppressive that crushes the person to the point that he is unable to recover through his own efforts. Then this soul acts like Christ under the cross, and looking up to Heaven, says: "Daddy God, help me. Don't you see that I am unable to go on, don't you seen that I don't even have the strength to take a step?" Sometimes the situation is even more serious because you do not even have the strength to pray. I believe that in those moments God is happier with just our sighs and our whining because they are honest, sincere and real. I will not dwell on those sufferings, worries or tensions that are part of everyday life, I will skip on all of them and I will come to consider the circumstance where the pain lasts for decades, when the light seems to go farther and farther away, and when, humanly speaking, the realization of what God has promised seems impossible because all human circumstances are against you. The authority is against you, even though I am convinced that we cannot speak of authority because those who fight God cannot exercise authority in His name. They are usurpers but, unfortunately, they are the ones who have the scepter in their hands and impose themselves to the point that almost all of the people follow them, repeating: "He is elected by the Holy Spirit". Repeating that he was elected by illumination of the Holy Spirit when you know that the Holy Spirit was not present, actually it fled away. When you know these things your suffering will increase again. And Cain is calling Cain. This reality is prevailing and incumbent and then under the cross you moan and say: "My God, why do you still allow all this?"
Psalms are the Word of God, inspired by God, and after reading Psalm 24 I want to tell you that hope can be rekindled in our heart. This psalm begins with the affirmation of the full, total and complete sovereignty of God. Our Lord is the master of all this because to him comes the right to property. He created everything, everything depends on Him and everything must return to Him. It is a paradox that the inanimate creation has never rebelled against God and has always expressed in accordance with the laws of nature that God has established while those who received from God the supreme gift of intellect and soul, that is what makes us like God, are not responsible if they unintentionally fight against Him, but they are if they do it intentionally. Rebellion can show in many ways and the worst is not necessarily the more noticeable. The most terrible rebellion, in fact, is the one taking place in hiding, in the invisible. The most serious rebellion against God is hypocrisy, so outwardly they show an attitude of devotion and attention, but inside they feel just the opposite. Those who are not united to God, who take no part in His grace, who have no presence of the Trinity in their own soul, are God's enemies in whatever category they belong to, whatever office or power they have. And here we can say that God is the master and ruler of all, He is the sovereign master of inanimate nature, He is sovereign master of man, He is sovereign master of his Church. In this case, with the term Church, we refer to the first probable basilica. In the Psalm it is implied a very important circumstance, a historical circumstance. In fact, the Ark was solemnly placed into the tent built to welcome it and this tent is located on Mount Zion, the most famous hill in Jerusalem. It is therefore towards this ante litteram church, towards this first temple of God that man begins his path and as he is going to have a contact with God, he scrutinizes his own human condition and sees it as a frail and weak sinner. And then, ideally, this whole procession of people is questioning their own conscience: "Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?" (Psalm 24:3). How can we prostrate before God, who shall stand in His holy place? And here is the answer, which may come from our conscience, or from our brothers, or even from the priests of that time: "The one who has clean hands and a pure heart and never tell lies" (Psalm 24:4). Only they can go before God and have a filial relationship with Him. But here's the question: "Alongside the innocent are the ones who have dirty hands, alongside the honest there are those who speak falsehoods, and then aren't they going to God just for a show and get nothing from Him?"
We come to the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee who displays arrogance, pride and conceit. The poor publican is kneeling and acknowledges his sins, just as we recognize our weaknesses, our fragility, our being tired and, at times, bitter and disappointed. But this state is the beginning of purification. We have offended God, but we are aware of the offense, we ask for forgiveness and He cleanses us and allows us to approach Him with clean hands and, above all, with a clean heart. "Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face" (Psalm 24.6). It is the one conscious of its fragility and we want to belong to this generation because we are among those who are aware of its limitations.
Now, after skipping several centuries, we turn to John, and we find this wonderful reality. When John wrote this letter he used the expression: "You see". You have to think that the apostle is like someone before a masterpiece, facing a glimpse of a wonderful nature, facing an irresistible panorama and, therefore, he is admiring what he sees. Well, John tells us: "You too put yourself in front of this masterpiece of God, which is the redemption, which is the transformation of the creature, from a sinner to a right one". In the New Testament the concept and expectation of the Messiah present in the Old Testament is exceeded. In the Old Testament there was no idea, no certainty, no reality that God would make us His children.
"To be called children of God and so we are" (1 Jn 3:1). In the Greek version, this concept is clearly expressed and implied a real natural generation. So we do not talk about a simple adoption, but something more, something penetrating inside man, transforming him and making him similar to God. This greatness, as John says, as long as we are on Earth, we would never be able to perceive in all its glory. When we will actually find the beauty of the soul in a state of grace? When we will stand before God: only at that moment, in the eternal happiness of Heaven, man will be able to see the masterpiece that John specified, but in the earthly life it is foreshadowed, veiled , illuminated by a soft light that does not make it to fully shine. Only in Heaven we will see its full splendor. Then, when we will be in Heaven, we will rejoice by looking around, we could even congratulate each other, as it happens on Earth when we say: "How well you look, how beautiful you are, how younger you look". In Heaven this will take place right away: each of us will be surprised and will be amazed at his own beauty and grandeur, but he will also be lead to enjoy and give praise to God for the beauty he will see in his own brethren. Sure, some will be more attractive and others less so, but that does not depend on the physical features of the body, but on the abundance of the grace in the soul. The more the soul is rich and full of grace and more it will look beautiful. So it may happen that those who, during their earthly life, were not considered attractive from an exterior and physical point of view, if they have accumulated grace upon grace they will be really beautiful in Heaven; they will be even more beautiful than all the Adonis they encountered during their earthly life because you must remember that even the body, after Resurrection and Last Judgment, will follow the soul condition. We will not be as we are now, but God will bring our body to a beauty and splendor potential that today we are not able to understand in its scope and reality. For those who have had the scepter but abused its power, by slandering and causing suffering to the Bishop ordained by God, there will be no salvation. I do not know what these guys can celebrate today, since there is a clear opposition between them and those we celebrate: the Saints. These gentlemen are no good, because they are not pure.
"All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure" (1 Jn 3:3). This expression does not mean just the virtue of purity as understood in the sexual sphere, meaning the respect of our own body and that of our spouse in the event of marriage, but it is used to mean total holiness. God is Holy. The attribute par excellence of God is holiness, hence He is holy and we partake of His holiness and we are called to express our worship, our obedience and docility to God. We are called to cleansing and the clean man is experiencing two simultaneous realities: getting rid of evil, that is to purify the soul, and devote himself to God. If all this is not there, if it does not exist, it means that you are against God and away from Him.
Consider the saints intercessors, our protectors, those who defend us and give us an example. We admire this masterpiece of God, this holiness that was expressed in many men and women of different races, cultures and even different religions because God looks at their heart and love. He looks into your heart and sees if there is this desire to help and love the others.
Today, after venerating the saints, kin and loved ones, we take a higher flight and arrive before the throne of God, before Daddy God, Brother God, Friend God, the One and Triune God, and before Him we bow and say: "We are aware, my God, of what will be, if we are faithful until death, our ultimate reality in Heaven, but I beg you, and at this time I ask you all to join me, give us a bit of your peace, your serenity and your joy even during our earthly life. I can say, and others with me, that we gave you all our life. We have dedicated all our life to you, for you we have suffered, for you we faced trials, for you we have been unfairly judged and even more unjustly condemned, but now, my God, wake up, be our leader and let us taste the beauty, grandeur and joy to be your children". Praised be Jesus Christ.