Eucharist Miracle Eucharist Miracles

Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of May 7, 2006

Fourth Easter Sunday (Year B)
1st Reading: Acts 4:8-12; Psalm 117; 2nd Reading: 1 Jn 3:1-2; Gospel: Jn 10:11-18

“At that time, Jesus said: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me just as the Father knows me and I know the Father and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life, only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (Jn 10:11-18)

Jesus could not have chosen a more beautiful image to show to men: the image of the shepherd. In literature and in the popular imagination, the shepherd is a figure who gives tranquility, security and serenity, because he places himself as the guardian and protector of the sheep.

Here then, at a time when we need to meet authentic shepherds in the Church, Jesus is showing as a unique model: "I am the good shepherd". I would like you to truly feel the love that accompanies these words and the love they express.

The shepherd is the one who gives his life for his sheep, these are the words of Jesus and the offer he made is what we are living in the celebration of the Holy Mass: an update of the sacrifice of the Cross, as a bloodless sacrifice, which repeats each time by the will and command of the Lord.

Sheep need assistance and words, in fact those who have a pastoral and bucolic image know that shepherds, and I mean human shepherds at this moment, turn to the sheep, speak to them, and recognize them: this is what Christ wants us to understand by showing as a shepherd. Jesus says: "I know my sheep". It is not an experimental knowledge, nor occasional or made up of glances that meet, Jesus says: "I know my sheep" and in this case he indicates something very high, namely: "I love my sheep and my sheep love me". We see this love, we notice it, we meet it every time in the Eucharistic sacrifice. The sheep are led to pasture and the shepherds know what the best pastures are and the pasture is the food that Jesus gives us: "My body and my blood is truly food, it is truly drink". This is the image of the shepherd who offers himself to us. Jesus is the eternal shepherd of all humanity. We must not think that he carried out his pastoral duties during his earthly life only and after his ascension he retired to a boarding house. No! Anyone who thinks this is not in the truth. Jesus continues to be shepherd of the Church and of men, in the same manner when he used to walk and tread the ways and roads of Palestine proclaiming the word of God.

Jesus is the eternal, current, irreplaceable shepherd of his Church, he is the shepherd of all shepherds. The prophecy, which will certainly come true, of a single flock and a single shepherd, highlights just this, there will be only one flock and one shepherd: Jesus. Those who call themselves by the name shepherd, like us bishops and priests, must think that in addition to being a shepherd with regard to the faithful entrusted to them, must, at the same time, be the sheep of the only fold, which is the flock of Christ. Therefore each sheep, in its specificity, never ceases to be led, guided and even admonished, should it err or make a mistake.

A priest is a shepherd but also a sheep, I tell you this with respect because first of all I attribute this expression to myself. If I felt I was only a shepherd, I would usurp the rights of the Lord, who is as the only shepherd. There will be one flock and one shepherd, well then, let’s be intelligent and responsible sheep.

From the Gospel of John we go to the first letter of St. John, where you find what the definition of being a child of God is.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is”. (1 Jn 3:1-2)

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us…”. This Love that became incarnate, was made present in the Son who restored man to his primitive justice and holiness, is the love of the Father who showed in the Son. An immense love that leads us to a dignity so high and so great that we, as long as we are on earth, are unable to appreciate. St. John says it: "Now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known". In this you see a dynamism, an ongoing process: therefore, during the earthly phase, those who love God, who have a close relationship with Him, begin a sonship so great and high that it can only be fully understood when we are in Heaven.

When we are in Heaven we will have much more of the gifts that God gave to our forefathers: the natural, supernatural and preternatural ones. Be calm, be serene and assured, even those who do not know some truths of faith, when in Heaven, with the vision of God, will have a much greater knowledge of the mystery of God than what was achieved on earth. This is what matters, because only in Heaven will God show as he is.

No one can describe God, no one can speak adequately of God. Try, taking a moment to reflect in front of the tabernacle where God is present and start thinking: “My God, if I had to describe you to my brothers, what should I say?” I think we would begin to stammer, to utter expressions that do not satisfy us to start with because God can only be understood in Heaven and not even in his totality and concreteness. In fact, knowledge is proportional to love, so the more we have loved God on earth, the more we will be able to know God in Heaven.

This is the reason why Jesus taught us and gave us the great commandment of love and also the Mother of the Eucharist continually drives us to love because everything is resolved with love. Everything is lost if love is absent but everything is conquered when it is there, including God and the knowledge of him.

Then let’s begin to accumulate this love, as a heritage, during the phase of our earthly life, in order to then be able to transform it in a broader, greater way. This is the beauty of Heaven! A better knowledge will push us to an even higher love and then this process will go on indefinitely. God is infinite and therefore unreachable, our process of knowledge and love will never run out, but it will always go on: the more we know God, the more we will love, even in Heaven therefore, there will be a continuous growth in love.

I believe that this is enough to put us in the condition of having that expression in our hearts, that experience that we have while praying "Jesus sweet Master", when we say "the longing for Heaven", that is, to desire the Heaven, with a committed and serious life, which leads us to give the best of ourselves.

I go back to what Our Lady said today: "This is beautiful and joyful: to love those who do not love you". Comprehension and explanation now you have had. By loving those who make us suffer we earn such an asset that we will exploit in Heaven.

The most difficult love is aimed precisely at the people who make us suffer, but this gives us a capacity, a power so high that we will be able to keep it in mind when we are in Heaven. Perhaps for the first time you are able to understand why Jesus leads us to love.

I love those who make me suffer, because I will be able to enjoy and know You, my God, much more in Heaven: may this thought never abandon us. This is the path, this is knowledge and the commitment that we must put into our life, even if unfortunately it is a tried, painful and suffered life. We capitalize day by day a treasure that will serve us tomorrow to enjoy God in an ever increasing way. May this be in our hearts and in our minds, especially in the moments when we will encounter suffering.

Praised be Jesus Christ.