Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of January 6, 2008
1st Reading: Is 60:1-6; Psalm 71; 2nd Reading: Eph 3:2-3, 5-6; Gospel: Mt 2:1-12
In today's liturgy the concept occurring most frequently is the manifestation of the glory of God. The recounted events, however, from a human point of view, do not radiate light or glory. If we start to look at the surrounding reality with the eyes of God, we shall see, even if only partially, what his divine eyes see. When Jesus was born the world was filled with such light and joy, such a heavenly song that no powerful man of that time could notice; when Christ was baptized by John at the Jordan the Heaven opened, the Father manifested but no one heard His voice or saw what was happening but John the Baptist; during the Transfiguration, when Jesus showed, even if just partially, His divinity, only three people were able to witness the glory of God; at the time of Resurrection only those who were united with God, and most of all Our Lady, enjoyed the glory of that event. On the contrary, the suffering, mistreating, persecution, condemnation and killing of Jesus was seen by many people.
This, my dear, is the logic of God and we can accept it or reject it: if we accept it we see reality with His eyes, if we reject it we see what is around us and the works of God with the eyes of His enemies, that is in other words, without understanding what God has done, is doing and will do in the world to show that He has created it and is the absolute master and protagonist of all human history. This would be enough to understand the difference between those who are with God and those who, instead, while declaring in words to serve Him, follow and defend only their own interests, their own human glory, power and wealth. These people will not be allowed to be present, at the right time, at the glory and beauty of Heaven or at the full and complete manifestation of the glory of God, instead, it will happen for us and this is what I wish you because I love you.
Now let's read in this light what the word of God is telling us:
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the hip. Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord. (Is 60:1-6)
I realize that while listening to today’s first passage of Holy Scripture, some of you might think that there are exaggerated and hyperbolic expressions, not really describing reality. My dear, we are wrong because if we think like that we do not see reality through the eyes of God. It is logical that, in this case, Isaiah would refer to a historical event controlled entirely by God. It would have been impossible for a weak, subjugated, dominated and vanquished people to come back from exile and take possession of Jerusalem if God had not intervened. The return of the Jewish people in Jerusalem is a work of divine intervention and no one has figured it out, except those who have been able to read and see the events through the eyes of God. The prophet, the one who knows and feels that it is an initiative of God, bursts and breaks out into cries of joy and gladness; what is recounted is not an exaggeration but it is an exact description of the events he sees flawing by. The prophet talks about glory and says what we then read with a Christological and Christian viewpoint. Isaiah announces a historic event that sees Jerusalem as the hub of history. The devastated Jerusalem will again radiate a special light, and this light will guide her sons first, namely the inhabitants of the other regions in Galilee and Judea, then it will draw to her all other peoples bringing, as gift and as homage, their wealth.
Although Isaiah was not certainly able to read with the eyes into the future, we are dealing with the announcement that the salvation of God is not prerogative of a single nation, but is a gift extended to all. It is the same concept expressed by Paul when, speaking to the Ephesians, says: "The mystery made known to me by revelation". Paul states that this mystery, remained undisclosed until then, is now able to clarify because of the "revelation", hence by divine intervention, not human. Here Paul shows the origin of its mandate, his apostolate is not derived from human authority but comes straight from an intervention, an action and a manifestation of the supernatural: "I have received the knowledge of the mystery solely because of God's intervention". The mystery that was kept quiet until then is that salvation goes to all peoples, every person, regardless of any affiliation to a religion, nation or culture. Paul says that this mystery was, until then, not known to anyone except the apostles, and he was among them, and the prophets. The apostle, however, do not refer to the prophets of the Old Testament, but to those in the New Testament; it would be a contradiction to say "nobody knew it" and then claim that it was known by the prophets of the Old Testament:
Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. (Eph 3:2-3, 5-6)
The prophets of the New Testament are those who have received from God a special light and the necessary charisma required to manifest and realize some salvation plans. The Magi are the first prophets of Christianity. Now you understand why they came from afar facing many difficulties; they perfectly knew the one to be born, in fact, they asked where "the King of the Jews" was. The Magi were not swayed by appearances: a cave, a young woman, a poor but honest man. These appearances had, however, influenced the minions of King Herod who did not understand anything. Herod summons the scholars, experts of the Word of God and asks them the same question that the Magi had addressed to him and they replied, repeating Micah’s prophecy, that the leader was to be born in Bethlehem. They too did not understand anything; Herod only, as he strongly feared to be ousted, conceived the massacre of the innocents.
Now, however, let us analyze just the Magi’s experience where we see the accomplishment of a great work, a great intervention of God. We wonder how people coming from so far away and not part of the Jewish people are the first witnesses of the Incarnation and coming into the world of the Son of God. His people had custody of the promise and prophecies, but only a small number of them, made up with poor and humble people, knew, by divine intervention, what had happened: a virgin gave birth to the Son of God. The feast we celebrate today is a great one, in fact, is the announcement that the work of God will not be exclusive, will be the most important but not the only one in the history of the Church.
We have witnessed something similar. Next Thursday, January 10, we will celebrate the sixth anniversary of the triumph of the Eucharist. In a world that had flattened on Protestant positions and was moving away from the true faith regarding the Eucharistic mystery, God intervened again and, through the prophets that He has raised and chosen, fulfilled what was humanly impossible and today this event is part of the context, the history and the situation of the Church. Herod tried to destroy the child who so much frightened him, but he did not succeed. Those to whom God has entrusted the mission of the triumph of the Eucharist were subject to persecution, judgments and even attacks, but nothing succeeded because God prevented them. God is always the protagonist. Men may succumb, but God is Almighty and crushes abuses and human power, even if He is asking so much suffering, as was the case last night, to those He entrusted with tasks and missions. Today we celebrate the triumph of the Eucharist and the love for the Eucharist, on which everyone is currently writing and talking as they wish to take possession of the merits they do not have. But God has already said to whom the merits of this triumph go and you are aware of it. Today the Eucharist has triumphed and the mystery of Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ is better understood, accepted and loved. It is no coincidence that the announcement of the triumph of the Eucharist takes place in the octave following the feast of Epiphany: January 6, January 10. We thought it was a coincidence, but God has His plan that we understand little by little. It was right that the date was the 10th because it is close to Epiphany and as Epiphany manifested to the world the presence of Christ in history so, in the same way, on January 10, 2002 God revealed to the world the triumph of the Eucharist. With time everything comes together, everything becomes clear and what until recently eluded me is now clear: I'm talking about another of God’s mystery. I have been called, with Marisa, to disclose the mystery of God, unknown for centuries and fulfilled and expressed only when God wanted. From now until day 10, let us think, meditate, and rejoice about this because we too are the ones coming back and then going to the thaumaturgic place willed by God, from where the light came from. As the Judeans, the Jews were the first to go to Jerusalem, and then all the peoples, so towards this place, and towards what it represents, millions of people are going, and growing more and more. As they see the light they are part of the light, for they see the glory of God radiating from this thaumaturgic place and filling, illuminating and overcoming all the darkness of the world. The light shines, the joy is rampant and the action of God becomes visible and source of joy and wonder. I authorize you to clap your hands, sometimes is just what we need, it is for me and Marisa to cheer up our spirit because sometimes it collapses, but also for you because sometimes even your spirit collapses. And now there is the announcement of Easter Day.