Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of September 10, 2006
23rd SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (YEAR B)
1st reading: Is 35:4-7; psalm 145; 2nd reading: Jas 2:1-5; Gospel: Mk 7:31-37
You will probably have missed the proper understanding and interpretation of some passages of the letter of God. It is a series of pleasant topics, which I would have talked about only after a possible suggestion from Our Lady. Your curiosity will be satisfied, but not today; I will speak on September 14, since there is no better day to speak of the "works" that belong to God and are only His. We can rejoice in it, we must not feel protagonists, let alone responsible, but simple beneficiaries of the Lord's actions concerning humanity.
You will have realized how the public revelation, present in the Old and New Testament, and private revelation, present in the letters of God given during the apparitions of the Mother of the Eucharist, happily coincide. The letter of God is a cry, an invitation to courage, the same invitation heard in the passage extracted from the book of Isaiah. This great prophet, one of the greatest of the Old Testament, certainly was reflecting on a particular historical situation of the Jewish people, which was then correctly interpreted as an announcement of the messianic times. Compare the passage from Isaiah and the last words of the Gospel we just read and you will find full agreement.
“Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.’ Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs” (Is 35:4-7).
“Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him. After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak" (Mk 7:31-37).
The starting point is the historical situation: the Jewish people suffered the invasion of the powerful Assyrian army and its most illustrious representatives, starting with the court, were deported to Assyria; all the people were subject to this invasion. Certainly many had the same thoughts as we had: "We are the people of God, we have been chosen to carry out the promise of the Messiah, we have been continually assisted by divine power and now we are subjected to vicious enemies, so our situation is without return". This they thought and certainly we too thought the same.
In the current situation, if we look around, we see characters who, although nominally belonging to Christianity and even being invested with authority, behave like the Assyrian invaders who are against the rest of Israel. These people are against those whom God has called to carry out a mission within the Church and against those who have chosen to support the prophets God raised up. Once again I will explain to you the biblical meaning, different from the pagan one, of the prophet. The prophet is the one who is called directly by God, he is chosen and sent to carry out a certain mission, to communicate certain truths to his people.
The presence of the prophets does not end only in the Old Testament. God calls again, and you have heard what the Lord said addressing me: "I am God, I do what I want and nobody can oppose my will". This we must understand, this we must think. Like the Jewish people, we too felt lonely because of fragility, weakness and fatigue; we also felt abandoned, but that was the moment when God was closest to us. He wanted to provoke strong spiritual reactions of abandonment towards Him, so the cry that Isaiah says in the name of God: "Courage!" it is also addressed to us. At a time when the Jewish people experience more their own tiredness and weakness and are lacking in hope and trust, Isaiah, in the name of God, says: "Courage, this situation is about to end, gather your strength, resist and move forward".
Maternally, even Our Lady, to me, to the Seer and to each of you, said: "Courage, the time is coming to an end". Never before has she made such a clear announcement, to the point of promising to you too to see and enjoy the light of God, a wonderful light, warm, throbbing, which does not dazzle nor annoy, but fills the whole soul with delight and joy. "Courage!" It is said at the right time, we are more tired than usual and we notice it by observing how few people are present. Unfortunately, discouragement is often aroused or worsened by the devil that shows situations worse than they are, leading to detachment and distancing from the Lord.
Once we were many more but we are living the history of the Jewish people; the so-called "rest of Israel" has kept the certainty of God's achievements and promises unaltered. If we had to number all the people who went through this place, we would easily reach dozens of thousands, but if we look at ourselves today and we count, there are just a few dozen people. Yet, you must remember that God does not need us, but we need Him. God can also manifest to one or two people, He can have against all the powerful people of the earth and the underworld, but nothing and nobody can resist his power. A nod of his will is enough to destroy and annihilate his enemies, as He did in the Old Testament, in the New Testament and even a few weeks ago with regard to the infernal armies and the devil. Later I will explain how.
Then the word "courage" must be followed by the fulfillment of promises: your God arrives, here He is! As John the Baptist said: "Here is the lamb of God!" The Lamb of God was not far or elsewhere, it was there, a few meters away, therefore, it was also seen by those John the Baptist was talking to. This means that the "moment of God" is coming for us too, I don't know exactly when, but listening to God the Father, Jesus and Our Lady, I understand that the situation is evolving in our favor, even if appearances show the opposite.
The positions of authority and power are occupied by people who are against us and, being against us (this would not be important), they are, unfortunately, against God. The consequences of God's presence lie in the fact that divine actions bring about changes. Isaiah addresses a people with hard understanding, as Jesus himself will say, and therefore more willing to grasp changes in external, material situations; I, on the other hand, point out to you spiritual changes and situations. I am referring to what has been said many times: the changes in the Church occurred not because the authority managed the action, but simply because God entrusted these tasks to small and weak creatures, but assisted by His Almighty and His authority. The triumph of the Eucharist and the knowledge of the title, image, figure and mission of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, just to mention the two most important cornerstones of this mission, have been accomplished since many years and are now visible to everyone.
There is an expression I would like you to focus your attention on. In the proclaimed changes there is something that the Jewish people are particularly concerned about and to which they are particularly sensitive: the abundance of water. Palestine is an arid and waterless area, and today still is. Although nowadays technology is advanced, especially in the Jewish part, the richness of water is particularly appreciated by this people. To strike the imagination of the people, the Lord speaks of what is particularly appreciated by them, namely "an abundant quantity of water", whereby the desert becomes swamp, the parched soil is transformed into springs of water. The word water reminds me of the word water contained in the Gospel of John: from the side of Christ, now dead on the cross and pierced by the centurion's spear, blood and water gush out.
You see, it is easy to draw close to Christ's sacrifice, it is easy to draw close to the Holy Mass, which is actualization of Christ's sacrifice. Isaiah could not speak then of the Eucharist, but through this term, "water", we open to the comfort, beauty and greatness of the Eucharist. In fact, the Eucharist, like all the Sacraments, has gushed from the pierced side of Christ and the water reminds us in particular of this sacrifice, it reminds us of Christ’s death, His passion, but also of the Resurrection, since the risen Christ appears to the apostles with the pierced side, with the stigmata in the hands and feet. Then, as resurrected, the stigmata become glorious and luminous and the Eucharist contains all this reality, it contains the Christ who suffers, the Christ who dies, the Christ who rises, who turns into nourishment for the Christian people: the Bread descended from Heaven, Bread mixed with water. The term "water" is constantly returning, for this reason it is easy for us to think about the Eucharist.
Our strength is the Eucharist, if we had not loved it deeply, if we had not believed in the Eucharist, if we had not cultivated a great faith, none of us would have been here today. We opened to God, to his action, to the Eucharistic power and so we are here. We have overcome difficulties, we have encountered obstacles, we have been mortified by suffering, affected by slander and malice, we had to bow our heads in the face of unjust and immoral sentences, but here we are! Christ gives us the strength to go on and eventually wait for the fulfillment of His promises.
As God kept the promises made to the Jewish people, so He will certainly keep what promised to us. We started by shouting "courage", we end by shouting: "courage"! I, at this moment, ideally, split myself: as Bishop, prophet and Priest I am here and as a simple faithful I am in your midst. I too feel the encouragement coming from God, I needed it and I need it very much. The word "courage", which I pronounce in the name of God and I am address also to the faithful Claudio Gatti is a word that you too must accept, keep in your heart and, at the right time, externalize with hymns, songs and psalms, praising God, who will always triumph, but only when He has decided. His powerful and divine action is released especially when it seems that everything has collapsed and there is nothing we can do. This is the signal that only God can overcome the impossible and realize the impossible.