Eucharist Miracle Eucharist Miracles

Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of February 8, 2009

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

1st reading: Job 7:1-4, 6-7; Psalm 146; 2nd reading: 1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-23; Gospel Mk 1:29-39

It is quite usual for me, when I read the readings on Saturdays, to have to choose which of them to offer for meditation and reflection to the community and all of them are always so rich and fertile in reflections and sacrificing one to favor another is extremely difficult. So I ask the Lord for the gift of synthesis, that is, to seek a common thread so that all is clear according to a pre-established plan.

Let's start with the Gospel. I can't dwell on everything, but there are two details that I want to highlight together with you. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied: “Let us go somewhere else, to the nearby villages, so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” (Mk 1:35-39).

Jesus gets up in the morning before dawn, when it is assumed the others are still sleeping; he leaves the house, looks for a deserted and solitary place and starts praying, that is, a conversation with the Father. Here Jesus gives us a great example: his prayer has always been of intercession with God for the benefit of his brothers, never for himself. He always prayed for others and this is the best prayer of all, the one made out of love and with love that leads us to talk to God about our brothers.

Later Jesus is joined by the apostles, Peter tells him that everyone is looking for him, but Jesus says to go elsewhere because he has to preach. Here Jesus gives us a teaching that is particularly valid for us priests, but also for you when you have to carry out your task of teaching with regard to your children, other family members or friends: in order to fruitfully preach the Word of God we must first of all turn to God.

If all priests did humbly what Christ did and followed his example, the preaching would be more fruitfully received by those who listen. In fact, if I have to speak about God, about grace and about love, it is necessary that I first turn to God. Unfortunately, the priests, meaning all those who in various ways and in various degrees are part of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, often think only of themselves when speaking. They are concerned with making a good impression, they seek recognition, gratitude and applause, but all of this is wrong. We need to worry about giving the Word of God to our brothers and sisters with the right explanations.

I turn my gaze, with an embrace, to all those millions of people around the world who participate in Sunday’s Holy Mass and listen to the Word of God. They do not know the Gospel well, they behave like children in practicing the Christian virtues and they believe that holiness is an unattainable goal because the Gospel is not explained to them with God's wisdom, or with the light coming from Him. God gives everyone the light, provided that those who have to proclaim his Word in the world ask for it to him and not only worry about making a good impression. We priests must try to follow Christ's example, because no one more than Him loves the souls, to whom He is turning with simplicity. Infinite wisdom is shown in a totally accessible way that can be accepted by all; parables are not a literary invention of Christ, but he knew how to use them wisely so all people understand him.

In today's second reading, Paul says: "For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" (1 Cor 9:16). It is not a boast to proclaim the Gospel. How many priests follow this teaching? We priests must not try to emerge and affirm ourselves, but to serve God. Therefore, announcing the Word to our brothers and sisters is not a boast for us priests, but a duty and an obligation, we must do it in the best way for the love of God and as a service to brothers.

Paul, after the famous fall from his horse on the road to Damascus, when Christ called him, totally changed his attitude towards Christ. I would like to address to the preachers of the Gospel that "woe" that Paul addresses to himself.

The Gospel must be proclaimed in its entirety with vivacity and richness, otherwise we impoverish it. We must not superimpose our words on God's Word, but our words must be a foundation upon which we place God's words that are the only valid, important and precious ones.

“If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel." (1 Cor 9:17-18). Here Paul makes a distinction and highlights the importance of the call. Whoever is sent by the Lord to preach must not demand any reward from the brothers. Unfortunately, exactly the opposite occurs. It is sad that the older priests get, the more they attach themselves to money with the trite justification that, by now, they have to think about their old age, while I think it is much more important and urgent to think about eternity.

Keep in mind that the best way to multiply money is to give it to the poor, because God will never let you lack what you have given, especially what we priests have given. “What then is my reward? That in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel." (1 Cor 9-18). Paul wonders what his reward is, but it is a rhetorical question because he knows very well the answer that he gives immediately afterwards: to proclaim the Gospel for free. We priests, if we truly want to serve the Church and ensure that it can be reborn, we must not think about our interest, let alone our earnings.

Now we come to the book of Job. He is not a Jew, he is a pious and very wealthy person and neither he nor the people with whom he talks belong to the Jewish population. It is an important book because, in addition to being beautiful from a literary point of view, it deals with the problem of pain and the presence of good and evil in the world. Sometimes there is an attitude of surprise and scandal that we too have highlighted: how come the wicked triumph and the good people perish? The book of Job does not give the answer to this distressing question, but it is present in the book of Wisdom: the good done by the righteous people is not lost and, even if they appear to be defeated, they are the true winners because they have the light, the kingdom of God, that is, the good concerning eternity. I can tell you that God never denies himself. In fact, a few days ago during one of our repeated conversations with Him together with Marisa, I asked Him the same question: "My God, is it possible that your enemies, who are our enemies, should triumph and show so proudly satisfied to the world?” And the answer was the same: "They will never enjoy me, the Heaven is closed for them and it is open for you". This is God's way of reasoning, but I add that we must not only expect the prize in eternity. Jesus promised it even during our lifetime. To us God, Jesus and Our Lady have ensured the reward even during our earthly life, but in the meantime we follow Job in his sufferings. This prophet complains, says wise things and makes very valid reflections; however, I must point out that there is an abysmal difference between us and him: Job, although not a Jew, had the law at his disposal, but he did not have the grace because the Redemption had not yet taken place. It completely changed the relationship between God and Men. Therefore in Job there may have been equal, less or greater sufferings than ours, but there wasn’t the same support of the grace that we have. He, who had children, livestock and friends, was deprived of everything and we can say that we live in an equivalent situation because, due to our choice, we too have been deprived of relatives, friends, acquaintances and human achievements; however, as I have already told you, they are not lost, but will be returned at the appropriate time.

So we can rightly wipe Job's tears because he suffers and there is nothing else for him; instead, we are in another situation: we can suffer and cry, but we must also wipe our tears because the time will come when at last, and hopefully not very late, God will fulfill his plans.

A the moment, just like Job, we can spend sleepless nights, we can feel crushed, humiliated and treated like slaves, but the time for rehabilitation will come. We dare not ask to get on the chariot of the winner, who is Christ, but we can rightly ask to be close to him in the moment of his triumph because no one can say more than us that we were close to Christ in the moment of trial, in the moment of wickedness, at the time of slander and persecution. So if we have been close to him in pain then it is right that we are also close to him in joy, but the commitment to bow to God's will must always be with us.

Today, through Our Lady, God has asked us to participate in a new mission that neither Marisa nor I know. If God wants to make it known, it will depend on Him; it doesn't matter what it is, but certainly it is somethingg important, great, truly, effective, otherwise God would not have publicly asked for a commitment. So let's also place this new commitment on our shoulders with the hope, which must never abandon us, that all this accumulation of prayers, offers, small and big sacrifices can return, as it is logical and right to hope, to our benefit and for the realization of those plans which matter more to God’s heart than to us.

I can assure you that our Lord is tired of seeing the Church reduced to the situation you well know. God longs to make it clean again, so that it can stand as mother and teacher of the whole world. Today, however, from a human point of view, not from a divine point of view, that is, regarding the responsibilities of men, the conditions are not yet favorable for the realization of this plan. God has often told us that if he wanted he could intervene and immediately turn everything upside down, but he wants men to come to him through human commitment, which is called conversion, change and transformation. God is waiting for this and can also be solicited by our commitment and participation, but let us remind that we are not alone in carrying out this mission, because she is always present with us and we love and invoke her with the title dearest to God, Mother of the Eucharist. May she really soon give Jesus to every creature in the whole world, because where Jesus is there is goodness, truth and love.

Praised be Jesus Christ.