Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of February 19, 2006
1st reading: Is 43:18-19, 21-22, 24-25; Psalm 40; 2nd reading: 2 Cor 1:18-22; Gospel: Mk 2:1-12
Today I want to reflect first on the Gospel and then we will focus on the other two readings.
Jesus, through a personal and divine intervention, works a miracle; He heals a paralytic who had been lowered on a stretcher from the roof, after taking it off.
“A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he was at home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.
Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the stretcher the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man: “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone? ”Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and said to them: “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or to say: ‘Get up, take your stretcher and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your stretcher and go home.” He got up, took his stretcher and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (Mk 2:1-12)
It came naturally to me to compare this event with the situation experienced by Saint Joseph who suffered for eight years in the house in Nazareth.
Little by little, we come to know something about the years Jesus lived before his public life. He loved Joseph, his putative father, a lot. During these eight years, Joseph's suffering was so strong and terrible, that several times he wept and complained, and that's right. You must think that Jesus was there and could have healed him or at least made the sufferings lighter, but he did not. Our Lady is the most powerful human creature to intercede with God. In fact, during the life of Christ and through his intervention, miracles occurred. We only remember the wedding at Cana, but certainly there were many others. However, with regard to the suffering of her beloved spouse Joseph, she could do nothing and this is difficult to understand. The only people who could have relieved or healed St. Joseph's disease did not do it, because God's will was different. Many times we too struggle to accept God's will, not out of respect but because we are faced with the tremendous, lacerating and troubled mystery of suffering and we would like to alleviate the sufferings of those who suffer. The house in Nazareth witnessed St. Joseph’s lamentations and tears, to which, of course, were added those of his spouse and son. Everyone had to bow before a mystery that certainly did not stand over Jesus, but it did stand over Mary and Joseph, so they had to bow their heads and repeat the famous sentence: “Fiat voluntas Dei”. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. You have understood the references.
Now we come to today’s day: it is not a coincidence but providence. On this day we remember, even if in a simple and modest way, one of the 185 Eucharistic miracles, perhaps one of the most opposed and covered with mud. Years later, being a work of God, we can see the effects of what is reported in the scriptures seven centuries before the birth of Christ.
I believe that whoever was present on February 18, 1996 clearly remembers the image of the miracle where Our Lady asked Marisa to eat the grass and this was also the subject of sarcasm. In the gesture that God asks Marisa to perform there are two teachings: the first is that only through penance and purification does man draw near him, and they are necessary to help himself and, for the principle of solidarity, his brothers as well; the second is that everything that is present and rises in it, is holy because this is a thaumaturgic place.
We have kept this host that you will see at the end of Mass, when I will give the blessing to each of you. You will realize that, after ten years, it has remained intact, whole and perfectly white. Also in this case the laws of nature were set aside and overcome by God through his intervention. In fact, according to experts’ opinion, it is impossible for a bread wafer not to start an oxidation or similar process after some time, when it first turns yellow and then begins to shatter; but all this did not happen because this is a work of God. I say it again: the humble, the small and the simple have welcomed, accepted and appreciated the works of God; unfortunately, the grown-ups have mocked and rejected them, but it has always been like that.
Thus spoke the Lord: “Do not remember the past things anymore, think no more of the old things! Behold, I am doing a new thing: right now it sprouts, don't you notice it? I will also open a road in the desert and streams in the wasteland. The people I have formed for me will celebrate my praises. But you did not call on me, Jacob; indeed you are tired of me, O Israel. You have harassed me with sins, you have tired me out with your iniquities. I, even I, am he who bloats out your misdeeds for my own sake, and I no longer remember your sins" (Is 43:18-19, 21-22, 24-25).
Look at what Isaiah says or rather what God makes Isaiah announce: "I am doing a new thing" (Is 43:19). The "new thing" is the liberation and return to the promised land of the Jewish people; an occurrence that after a long exile in a foreign land seems humanly impossible. Only God can ensure that the people purified by him return to the cradle and the land that saw his birth. He will do great things, such as opening roads in the desert and making rivers rise in the wasteland; where humanity fails, God Almighty, being above all and everything, can.
However, we must be careful, because in the face of the great intervention of God, most of the people of Israel, especially the educated class, react in a negative way. “But you did not call on me, Jacob; indeed you are tired of me, O Israel” (Is 43:22); "But you have harassed me with sins, you have tired me out with your iniquities" (Is 43:24).
These words of God are always current and can refer to the divine intervention of February 18, 1996. In fact, those who should have welcomed, those who should have defended and supported, behaved like Jacob and Israel: they revolted and did so that their iniquities were heavier and heavier before the eyes of God.
According to the bible and evangelic expression, the little ones are those who commit themselves to using all their qualities to succeed in the intentions suggested by God and they know that they only need his help. The little ones are those who are judged weak, therefore inconsistent but, instead, do not compromise. Paul, in the second letter to the Corinthians writes: "But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, by me and Silas and Timothy, was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes" (2 Cor 1:18-19). He means that he has not accepted any compromise. They say that accepting compromises is a politician skill. For me it is shrewdness, but those who have clear ideas and defend them, those who want to reach the goals they set for themselves, will never accept to make any compromises in order to reach the goal. This is why the little ones are those who then show to be great: they have such an overwhelming strength, given by faith, capable of performing acts comparable to those the Lord spoke about, such as transporting trees and planting them into the sea.
This can be done by those who have faith. We see that on our human weakness God laid his plans, his projects and carried them out. Once again Paul comes to our aid and tells us: "All the promises of God are “Yes” in Christ" (2 Cor 1:20).
Who would have thought, ten years ago, that the Eucharist would bring about a triumph throughout the Church and throughout the world? Who would have thought that all the attention of the men of the Church would finally be drawn around the Eucharist and that it would again become, according to God's plans, the source and summit of all Christian life? No-one could have thought about this, ten years ago. The Eucharist, as a real presence of God, was opposed and even not accepted by powerful, cultured and strong people who exercised their power in the ecclesiastic sphere. However, they failed to stop God's work, because he kept his promise: the Triumph of the Eucharist. It all started in this thaumaturgic place and will spread and reach every corner of the Earth. So behold, we bow reverently and thank God for witnessing this event. We are not interested in whatever evil has been done, we are interested in all the good that has been done and that we have seen.
Remember that if there had not been for those 185 Eucharistic miracles, including the one we remember today, we would not be celebrating the triumph of the Eucharist. It is God who intervened, it is God who worked and changed the situations and hearts of men who wanted to convert.
It is the work of God and nothing and no-one can oppose him. God can wait, he can even create in his enemies the illusion of having won, but when they feel they are the winners, they will be taken by the justice of the Lord and placed in the situation belonging to them.
Remember the Gospel passage of the rich man who, after having filled his granaries, said to himself: “You have many possessions stored away for many years; rest, eat, drink and enjoy. But God said to him: «You fool, this very night your soul will be asked of you and whose will be the things that you have prepared?» So it happens to those who accumulate treasures for themselves and are not rich towards God" (Lk 12:19-21). We do not wish death to anyone, we are for the physical and spiritual life, but nothing is worse than those who refuse to live. This refusal is made up of hatred and aversion to God, who is life. Whoever rejects God wants to die; whoever refuses to live is in the sadness of spiritual death and does not go to the source of life. The source of life is only and exclusively the Eucharist.
Times are getting longer, we are probably right about this. However, God's plans do not change, but He slows down his action because men, and often the most powerful, oppose his action and his will, as Our Lady reminded us today. In fact, you have heard it many times, God is Almighty and does not want the sinner's death, but that he repents and converts; so he asks the good ones to be patient, to pray and suffer so that many souls may still have the opportunity to be saved. Otherwise, they would find themselves in the situation of hearing the awful and dreadful word of God: "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!" (Mt 25:41).
We want to rejoice and we want our joy to always be shared by a greater number of people, now on Earth and tomorrow in Heaven. We do not want to fall into envy or jealousy, but we want to be guided by love. Only love saves, only love makes each of us meet with God; so after having met with God, each of us will meet with our brothers and following a ray that widens in this circle, we will be able to include all men for whom we hope their salvation and wish them good and expect to find them in Heaven in the future.
Praised be Jesus Christ.