Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of April 17, 2009
Friday within the Octave of Easter
1st reading: Acts 4:1-12; Psalm 117; Gospel: Jn 21:1-14
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153 of them, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them: “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. (Jn 21:1-14)
I would like to share some reflections with you. We have fallen into the habit of living with little fervor the bible classes, the readings of the Gospel and the apparitions. Just think of how many people in the community no longer participate in our meetings but one day, as they say in Rome, they will be kicking themselves. Then remember the Eucharistic miracles. In today's Gospel, one hundred and fifty-three fish are mentioned, there are one hundred and eighty-four Eucharistic miracles and in the end, as it happens, out of habit we no longer pay attention to them: there is no more elation, emotion and excitement. Now we miss it very much, we miss the experience of receiving Jesus the Eucharist, brought by Our Lady, leaving a taste and a particular scent in the hands and mouth of those who received Communion and the scent persisted for some time.
In today's Gospel, the apostles go fishing; this is often mentioned in other evangelical episodes; Peter, the most impulsive of all of them, takes the initiative first. Remember that the apostles were recently ordained bishops and one of them, Peter, in a few days' time, will be confirmed as head of the apostolic college, that is, Pope.
Despite this, their hands are hardened and handle nets and fish. Compare the simplicity of the apostles with the excessive elegance and display of the Church characters. It is a scandal but even more scandalous is that these realities are not reported. When, unfortunately, a catastrophe occurs, the big characters do not move because there are no carpets, fanfares and flowers. This is not Christianity. Jesus said: “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (Jn 13:14-15). Instead, the men of the Church flaunt power, excelling over others, subduing others. How far we are from the authentic spirit of the Church! Every time I read these pages I feel full of fear because I realize how difficult the task that the Lord has entrusted to me is; it will be hard to persuade the powerful men of the Church to sobriety. For the cult, it is sufficient to have neat and elegant clothes without overdoing it with very expensive fabrics. I have before my eyes some ceremonies where the clergyman presiding over the celebration sat on a throne with luxurious drapes and clothes, but no one deplores the scandal: "Get off the throne and bow down before the King of Kings, before God present in the Eucharist".
There is a lot to do, but where are the people willing to collaborate? You too love the first places, you love to look and feel different and better than others. This is not gospel, my dear. “So you too, when you have done all that has been ordered to you, say: «We are useless servants. We have done what we had to do»" (Lk 17:10). This sentence is not uttered because one is afraid of it.
These apparitions will certainly leave a mark in the Church history because they have brought the Eucharist back to the center of the Church, but there is also another important aspect: the repeated and continuous insistence of the word love; in all God's messages and letters there is an invitation to love, love, love, love. Love? Where is love? Just with words!
How much we still have to beat our breasts to change! You thought you had arrived, that you were ahead of the others. Oh no! For all that you received you had to be far ahead. I say that this community is called: Movement of Commitment and Testimony, but where is the commitment? How many times did God the Father, Jesus and Our Lady speak of the importance of the bible classes. You go shopping when it rains, when it's hot or cold; you go to friends by car, bus or taxi to be together in joy, but you do not participate in the bible class. How many times has it been said in the letters of God: “The Bishop out of each line makes a poem, no priest…” And what is your answer? Now I could end the Holy Mass by saying to you: "See you next Sunday", but I don't do it because I would blame you, present here, and give you a penance you don't deserve.
When I see empty chairs I feel bad, but not for me, believe me, I suffer from the big waste of grace. Personal prayer is grace, community prayer is grace, the apparition of Our Lady is grace and so are the Holy Mass and the Word of God.
All these reflections came to my mind while reading today's Gospel passage because I didn't even know what it was. During the reading, these thoughts went on clarifying and placing one after the other and I have given them to you.
Holiness is not made up of crooked necks, joined hands, stupid expressions, no, this is not holiness. Holiness is authenticity, resembling Christ, doing God's will, serving your brothers and sisters and not setting yourself up as anyone's teacher because only one is your teacher.
You must be thinking on what I want to convey: nothing, I have no hidden intention, I have no secret goals, I just want to speak clearly to you, because, remember, I have already said it and I repeat it, I won't do one minute in Purgatory because I have done my duty for you. As far as my personal problems, flaws and sins are concerned, it is between me and God, but I cannot remain silent in the face of things that are wrong. I will never do it and if everyone would do it, we wouldn't have gotten where we are today.
I don't talk behind their backs, I talk to people's faces, you too can do it. Many times Our Lady said: "Do not talk behind their backs". In Marisa's spiritual testament, read on 5th April, there was this very recommendation: "Don't talk behind their backs". It means that you still continue to do so.
Take off the halo, if you put it on your head. No one has the right to wear a halo, only God can say: "You man are holy, you woman are holy", we are not. I can't say it about you either and you can't say it about others. You can only repeat what God says.
Well, I've scolded you enough and now let's go back to the Holy Mass.
Praised be Jesus Christ.