Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of June 18, 2006
CORPUS DOMINI (Year B)
1st Reading: Ex 24:3-8; Psalm 115; 2nd Reading: Heb 9:11-15; Gospel: Mk 14:12-16, 22-26
Today I invite you, with affection, to stand before the Cenacle to look closely at what is happening and hear what is being said. Eucharist and priesthood are two distinct but interdependent realities. There can be no Eucharist without priesthood, whose main function is to make Jesus the Eucharist present. At the beginning of the Church history, the Lord wished to add a third reality to these two distinct realities: that of apostolate. So we are faced with a trilogy: Eucharist, priesthood, apostolate. The apostle is the one who is called and sent by Christ, and the eleven have this characteristic, they have been called and sent to preach to all peoples. They are apostles but, at the same time, they are ordained bishops by the Lord. I wish to clarify once again that God, in order to ordain a bishop, does not need either to recite formulas, or to lay hands, or to perform any liturgical rite because His will is more than sufficient, through which he manifests the power performing certain actions. Of the four Gospels, only in Luke's are the words where Jesus instituted the priesthood after instituting the Eucharist. Neither Matthew nor Mark say: "Do this in memory of me" and, in addition to Luke, only Paul, in the first letter to the Corinthians, highlights the institution of the sacrament of Holy Order. John does not speak of it and he does not even speak of the institution of the Eucharist because the previous Evangelists had spoken of it but he focused on the promise of the institution of the Eucharist. I believe that Matthew and Mark did not mention it because it was so evident to the people to whom the apostles' preaching was addressed that there was no need to emphasize even more the institution of the sacrament of the Order, on the day and at the moment of the institution of the Eucharist.
Christ reserved to Himself the fact of carrying out a few and precise episcopal ordinations, he ordained the eleven and Paul, but you realize how much unpreparedness there is and, I would say, there is unfortunately also ignorance in priests concerning who had consecrated Paul a bishop. After twenty centuries, I have to talk about it with blush because I look at my unworthiness, but also with warmth because in this too I try to imitate Paul who, for all his life, had to fight to be recognized as a bishop. I don't think I will have to fight all my life to be recognized as a bishop, but next Tuesday is the seventh anniversary of this ordination and, until today, I have been fighting for seven years, and you together with me, to have this great and third intervention of God recognized. Christ ordained few bishops because that was His will. We can infer about those who were ordained bishops by the eleven and we know that Paul ordained Titus and Timothy bishops and to the bishop ordained by God in the twentieth century he said: "You will ordain many more bishops." When priests speak of apostolic succession and the sacrament, you can always take exception that, as far as human intervention is concerned, the sacrament is needed but, regarding the intervention of God, the Lord is superior to the sacraments therefore he can do without them in order to carry out His will, and this is perfect theology.
Priesthood, Eucharist, apostolate: in the opening prayer I thanked God because he continues to assist his Church by sending apostles, as he has done in the centuries that have followed the foundation of the Church, because when it met with some great danger and encountered some critical situations, God has always intervened and always assisted her directly or through people he called. The apostles need the strength that comes from the Eucharist: "Cling to the Eucharist, cling to the tabernacle and I will give you strength to go forward", Jesus said to me, especially in the moment of suffering and trial. The Lord does not take away the struggles and does not abolish tiredness but he gives the strength to overcome all of this. Believe me, if it had not been for God's help, no human being, no matter how young, sturdy and strong, could have endured such fierce struggles, sufferings and wickedness that for sure would have crushed younger, stronger and sturdier people than myself.
At the beginning of the homily I invited you to be in a listening attitude: see, taste, assimilate and familiarize into your heart. Look how carefully Jesus prepared the Passover, not because it was the last that he celebrated with his apostles but because it would be the most important Passover in his life, where Jesus the Eucharist would institute the Eucharist. The apostles had a methodical, precise and detailed preparation from Christ regarding the sacrament of the Eucharist, they did not find themselves stunned and unprepared, as it is sometimes described by the brush of some painters but they were aware of what Christ was doing. When the Lord calls an apostle to carry out his task, he first prepares him for long years, just as it was for Paul and for others you know. Therefore, even the first apostles, those who in a certain sense have the most right to be called apostles, had such a preparation from Christ that, when the time came, they lived it with a particular sentiment and emotion but even more so Our Lady who lived the moment of the institution of the Eucharist and, certainly, in her heart and in her mind, those words resounded when little Jesus, on the day of circumcision, said to His Mother: "You are the Mother of Eucharist", words that she only heard, because she only was given the privilege of hearing her son and the Son of God speak. These words resounded in the heart of Our Lady in a strong and impetuous way and, while Jesus instituted the sacrament, she certainly prayed for all those who would later repeat the sacramental gesture of celebrating the Eucharist. The Mother of the Eucharist prayed for all the priests of all times and I see myself among them and, therefore, I feel supported by her strong and powerful prayer to God. We must try to go forward with the same courage as the apostles. When Jesus gave the mandate to the apostles, Judas was no longer there, certainly he could not ordain bishop who would betray Jesus and this is a great consolation but over the centuries, unfortunately, the betrayals inside the Church were repeated and, even today, they occur on the part of many high-ranking ecclesiastics, some of them you know name and surname and over them I spread a veil of silence, pity and commiseration.
Let's go back to the moment of the institution of the Eucharist. Look at Our Lady, learn from her, ask her for a strong love for the Eucharist, she adores her son present under the appearances of bread and wine, she prays for all her children and this is what we must see and you must preserve, I am offering this for your reflection and commitment. Let us join in prayer for all priests. Some of you are carrying out the mission that Our Lady has spoken of many times and Jesus too has spoken about it, even today. This mission too has its strength, which dates back twenty centuries ago because the Mother of the Eucharist certainly prayed for this mission which, in God's plan, has a unique and particular importance. You must truly feel that you are little apostolates, you have been entrusted with the mission of going and meeting the priests, you too have received a mandate. You are apostles, but I call you little apostles, so that you may not indulge in thoughts of presumption and pride but live the commitment you are carrying out in the simplest, most modest and most humble way. This is an important commitment which, by now, is coming to its conclusion. In fact, I told you that it must be completed a few days before the 29th and each of you will be able to repeat those beautiful words of Christ: “Everything is accomplished”. You will have done what you had to do, then withdraw without expecting recognition but simply feel as useless servants, because this is what the Lord taught us, since He alone is indispensable and necessary. Live these last days of the mission and pray with this spirit.
From now on I solemnly entrust you with the mandate to pray for the Church of Rome and the Diocese of Rome. They accused us of fueling a schism, a heresy within this particular Church and this diocese, but they do not know that we are giving blood, tears, suffering, love and commitment for the rebirth of this Church. If Rome is reborn, the whole Church will be reborn, but if Rome is not reborn, the Church will not be reborn. Therefore, feel the responsibility of the other churches on your shoulders because, in this way, you show that you love the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Roman, instituted by Christ but often badly served and, worse still, badly governed by men. Despite this, let us go on listening to the words of Christ: "I have conquered the world". It is hard to carry out the missions that the Lord has entrusted us and I do not know if you have understood something that Jesus said today concerning Marisa: she too went to fulfill this mission but she encountered obstacles that were much heavier, harder and more serious than yours and I think you will also have understood how far these people have gone, having felt disavowed, exposed and, consequently, have reacted; one in particular, with diabolical ferocity and satanic malice but the triumph belongs to God and the sentence of the Mother of the Eucharist is beginning to be realized: “They will go down like ninepins”. Jesus the Eucharist, we love you and follow you because we have discovered how important it is to be close to you. Never allow any of us to separate from You, but help us to live day by day in strong and enduring union with You, because You are the Way, Truth and Life.
Praised be Jesus Christ.