Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of November 19, 2006
1st reading: Dan 12:1-3; Ps 15; 2nd reading: Heb 10:11-14,18; Gospel Mk 13:24-32
At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people - everyone whose name is found written in the book - will be delivered.
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (Dan 12:1-3)
But in those days, following that distress, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.
At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door.
Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Mk 13:24-32)
Today's readings, 23rd Sunday of the year, are difficult to understand, there are hues of light and shade where something is eluding us: one believes he has understood a reality and then discovers that there is another underneath. The exegetes, especially in the face of today's gospel, have given different and contrasting interpretations.
If we want to simplify things, the first reading taken from the book of the prophet Daniel and the passage from the gospel of Mark are apparently confused because in them there is an apocalyptic and prophetic style that is not familiar to us. In these passages, future phenomena, facts and realities are announced, therefore distant from us and are not part of our present or past experience. Nobody has experienced the future, only God knows it, for this reason when future events are presented in the scriptures we cannot fully understand them. With an effort of understanding, helped always by the Holy Spirit, we can say that two future events are presented in today's readings concerning not only the people of Israel, but all peoples. These two events are the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world.
I remind you that Jesus, while speaking, was addressing the Jews who have their own history, the Old Testament and their traditions. The dominant thought of the Jewish people was that as long as Jerusalem remained intact and preserved, the world would also be preserved; if Jerusalem were destroyed, its history would be over and the whole world would also meet its fate. So for the Jews these two events are interdependent, historically they happen almost at the same time. Now it is clearer why we broadly speak of the end of Jerusalem and the end of the world. Its apocalyptic genre clearly arises by reading it because I think you have read it personally, in addition to having heard it today, and the legitimate question is: but what does it mean?
Let's stop at the first event: the destruction of Jerusalem.
Historians, including Pliny and Suetonius, who told the story of the Roman Empire, described earthquakes and famines that had occurred a few years before the destruction of Jerusalem, of which they were unaware, because Emperor Titus still had no decided to conquer and destroy it. These natural events in the eyes of the pagans had a supernatural origin, therefore they appeared as magical and fatal. When Jesus, with an apocalyptic description, says that the sun will darken, the moon will no longer shine, the stars will fall, the powers that are in the heavens will be upset, he is describing natural phenomena. I add another reflection: Our Lady has repeatedly told Marisa and me that what is usually seen by people as a simple natural phenomenon, for the two of us, instead, is a supernatural manifestation. While certain events or situations are interpreted in a strictly human way, we observe them in a purely spiritual key. I give you an example. When the Trinity was manifesting in the form of three luminous doves, enclosed in a huge Eucharist, all the others probably saw simple doves, but did not understand the supernatural reality in which they were inserted, nor the brightness, the majesty, the swiftness, nor the size of these doves, because our Lord, in his greatness, decides by whom certain realities must be understood.
The destruction of Jerusalem is properly announced in the passage of the Gospel: "This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened" (Mk 13:30). And in addition to the destruction of Jerusalem, which for the Jews represented the end of the world, there is the announcement of the end of the world. We are therefore, on the one hand, facing an earthly and historically outdated reality, on the other, a future reality that affects us all. As far as the destruction of Jerusalem is concerned, we must broaden our reflection, trying to understand all the events through which the action and presence of God is manifested.
The coming of Christ represents a particular intervention of God; there have been and there will be in our history. The same future reality that concerns us is to be ascribed to an intervention by our Lord. In a recent letter from God, Our Lady said that her Son will come and we will not see him. Do you remember this? What does it mean? It means that God's intervention will take place, so the righteous people will finally find themselves in a favorable situation and will be rewarded, while the dishonest and the bad people will suffer the consequences of their wickedness and their injustice. Why is the Lord continually postponing the moment of his interventions? Because he hopes - and the hope of God is absolute certainty - that different people from the field of the dishonest or the bad ones will pass, through conversion, to that of the good ones. How many times did God the Father say: "I cannot witness the failure of my Son"? Out of six and a half billion people currently living on Earth, how many people could be taken to Heaven when they die? It is a pain for our Lord to see or know, because for God there is no difference between past, present and future, that many of his children will not enjoy Heaven for all eternity. He then waits before intervening and still today the attribute of God's mercy is dominant, so that justice can be manifested later. So we are waiting for these events that I don't know what they will be, nobody knows them, but only the person to whom God has already revealed them or will reveal them in the future. We can rest assured, because whatever happens and in whatever way God's intervention will manifest in history, we will enjoy his protection, his help; each of us will not suffer any damage, because we have chosen the path that the Mother of the Eucharist has shown us and Jesus, through grace and redemption, is helping us to follow. I say it again, whatever happens, keep calm; we must be calm and secure, because the righteous one enjoys the help and protection of God. God may allow some righteous people to walk the path of His Son in the ordinary phase, from the Praetorium to Calvary, with a previous stop in Gethsemane, but only a few. The rest of his children live their vocation in a calm and peaceful way. You will be disturbed by those who oppose God, who do not know him, not in the theological sense, but because they do not love him and do not have a bond or a relationship with Him. And those who do not love God, do not even love His children either.
As far as the end of the world is concerned, a reality we have to believe in, it will happen when God wills. Pay attention also to the expression "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Mk 13:32), some heretics have used it to affirm that Christ is not true God, because otherwise he would know it, but these heretics forget that in Christ there are two natures: human and divine. So there is a human and a divine knowledge, there is a human and a divine will, so that Christ, as a man, may not know how and in what time the end of the world will take place, because it is an event so far away, projected in such a distant time that human reason cannot grasp, but, as God, He certainly knows it.
God is in three equal and distinct persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. They have the same divinity, therefore to say that only God knows when the end of the world will happen, means that the whole Trinity knows it in the same way. And we, who are much in advance of this event, how can we live it? Trying to follow the teaching of Christ, as it is explicitly mentioned in Daniel: "Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever" (Dn 12:3). The wise are those who wisely agreed to follow Christ, it is not human wisdom, but it is divine wisdom, it is a gift that God gives to those who call him Father and behave like children. "Those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever” or whoever will help a brother to save himself will have the Heaven assured.
You see, therefore, that some expressions of apparent simplicity are actually of a theological depth that can be correctly interpreted only by those who know the authentic doctrine and rigorous truth.
"At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens" (Mk 13:26-27). This picture is quite beautiful, as Jesus describes it, where his coming will be sudden and impetuous and Christ will sit at the right hand of the Father after he has overcome all his enemies. Here is hope, here is certainty: the enemies of God, one after the other, will be defeated, the victory will belong to God and it cannot be otherwise. In historical events it sometimes seems the opposite, but whoever has a strong faith in God, as Our Lady has spoken again today, will enjoy Heaven: "You too must believe in God, have faith in Him when there are sufferings, worries. Stay united with God, have faith and great trust in God. When the time comes, you will all go up to Heaven. Dream of Heaven, live as if you were in Heaven" (From the letter of God, November 19, 2006).
There will probably be painful and suffering moments, but the final victory belongs to God. And remember that every soul that goes up to Heaven is His victory and next Sunday we can say that God will gain his victory for 18 million times. He also revealed to us that if we are faithful, we will also experience this leap to Heaven, so we will enjoy God and it will be possible from the first moment, immediately after our physical death.
Here, you see, today’s scripture ignites hope and faith in us, it pushes us to love, because only by pursuing this path, aided by these theological virtues, we will truly be able to reach Heaven and enjoy it forever. Probably, before having known the Mother of the Eucharist, before having witnessed these Eucharistic miracles, before having known the true doctrine emerging from the scripture, we wondered: "Who will be saved?” It is the same question that the apostles asked: "Who will be saved?" The answer has been given to us many times: all those who have loved.
So then, have courage, strength, perseverance, humility, and next year it will be the year of humility, because only in this way will we experience the events of God, which will also concern us. The last event in human history will be the resurrection of the flesh, when the reunification between soul and body will take place; then we will enjoy the beatific vision of God, in the infinite and incomprehensible joy of Heaven, in the love enhanced to the maximum of its realities and possibilities. What's better than all this? Nothing. Only God is the one who can fulfill our immense desire for happiness. Remember that in man there is thirst for happiness, but earthly realities do not exhaust this thirst. This thirst for infinity can only be filled by God, by the union with God. This is what I wish to each of you, wish it to each other and wish it to all your relatives and friends, wish it to every man who, thanks to the redemption and will of God, is our brother and every woman is our sister.