Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of March 20, 2008
First Reading: Is 50:4-7; Psalm 21; Second reading: Phil 2:6-11; Gospel: Lk 22:14-23, 56.
Since the beginning of the Holy Week and particularly since yesterday, I still have a picture fixed in my mind, I believe it is familiar to you too: the earth is in front of it and the sun is on one side and the moon on the other. Wander not, I will not give an astronomy lesson, but I start with this observation: we are part of the world, we live on planet earth and we do not realize that if hypothetically the sun would withdraw or disappear, the fate of planet earth would be death, but first there would be darkness and even before the cold weather and therefore ice. The planet would be completely covered with ice that would prevent the growth of plants, the proliferation of animals and our own lives would be lost. Here it is, the earth is us, and, as Our Lady many times said, the sun is the Eucharist and the moon is Our Lady. Let me explain: as the sun is necessary and indispensable to enable life on earth, the Eucharist is necessary and indispensable to enable man to meet God, to become His child, moving from darkness to light, from sin to grace. If the Eucharist would withdraw, we would fall immediately into evil and sin. No one has ever asked this question, instead I think that it is important that we now turn our gaze and aim especially at the Eucharist. Today we celebrate the day of institution of the Eucharist and we remember well how the Last Supper was represented by Leonardo da Vinci, but we also know, thanks to the private revelation, that there is an error in this fresco because Our Lady is not present, instead she was present and we have inserted her in our last supper. The apostles are around Jesus, among them there is Judas who betrayed him despite having seen Jesus working many miracles, raise the dead, the crippled walked again, gaining the use of their legs, the dumb would speak again, sight to the blind and despite having witnessed the miracle of the loaves. Then there is the group of ten who will prove fearful just when they see the soldiers in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Christ will confirm his divinity in front of them by simply saying: "I am". At that moment they collapsed, almost thrown to the ground by an unseen force and deserted Him just after they realized that was really God the One they were forsaking and betraying because fear made them flee, all but one, John. You know that the Mass is the actualization of the sacrifice of Christ anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist, so it is the same reality, the same as two thousand years ago; the secondary characters may change, but Christ is always the same. Let us think today about Christ celebrating Mass, surrounded by His priests and bishops, that is, those who make up the whole ecclesiastical hierarchy from the highest level to the most modest grade. It's been two thousand years and the Judases who are at the side of Christ today are far too many. If we count the fearful priests, these too are many, Jesus spoke about them today and fear drives them to slander and defamation because they have to justify their weakness and fragility and then they strike the innocent, the prophets, those who are called by God and represent John, the only one who did not abandon Christ. There are still faithful souls, thank God, but unfortunately they are just a few. The priests currently serving are little more than four hundred thousand, alongside with them there are one hundred fifty thousand priests who applied for the reduction to the lay state; those are many, too many, you have heard it last Sunday when Jesus was confiding with us and said: "Sometimes it makes me think that I died in vain, that My death was useless". But why is this happening? Then I say, let us look higher up and think that, in spite of sins, betrayals, weaknesses and miseries, the Church still exists and standing up and the world continues to move forward; surely it is corrupt, but consider that if it were not for the Eucharist, the Church would be destroyed, would no longer exist because the existence, persistence and presence of the Church along the centuries is precisely given by the Eucharist. Now you understand that the Eucharist makes the Church and the Church makes the Eucharist. It lays bare the sustaining infinite love of God, even if, before it, there is a show neither attractive nor pleasant. Without Eucharist the individual is not realized; your life, your history tell me exactly that, namely, man cannot get to maturation of his humanity and spirituality leaving out the Eucharist. Those who have the Eucharist, those who live with the Eucharist, reach holiness and heroism. If I had not had my H. Mass, and this is for me a sweet confession, if I had not had my Eucharist, and I say mine likewise every one of you could tell mine because the Eucharist is a gift Jesus gave each man, if I would not have this daily encounter with Jesus the Eucharist I would not be here to speak to you right now, but since many years I would have fled from the mission and from the thaumaturgic place. The Eucharist is the guarantee and realization of man and the individual, but it is also a guarantee and realization of the family. Today there is much talk about the family, they say a lot of things, one opposing the other, but when men would come to understand, to accept that to say family, marital relationship, relationship between parents and children, love is necessary, they would also understand that in order to give it they must receive it first. The Eucharist is the source that guarantees the family unity; do notice that truly united families, those where you breathe respect and love, are the ones opening to the Eucharist love. Compare how the churches and parishes were before the triumph of the Eucharist and what they have become today. Clergymen tried to distract the attention of the faithful from the Eucharist because they did not love it and betrayed it every day in the celebration of the H. Mass so they invented a solution, "we share the Word of God and we do not celebrate the H. Mass, we no longer have the Eucharistic adoration and divert the Eucharist in increasingly marginal situations and places", then from center to periphery, they even posted arrows in churches to indicate where the tabernacles are. But do we realize how far we got? Despite these betrayals and this lack of love, Jesus was there, silently spreading graces and blessings. This concept is certainly not new to you and Jesus on Sunday last reaffirmed it again: "I have no need to bless, for My presence is a blessing". To bless I have to recite the formula, but God does not need to recite formulas, For Him to be there is already a blessing, a grace, and we do not think to the fact that when we stop before the Eucharist, we receive the blessing of God; those are guarantees the Lord gives us. In addition, when we receive the Eucharist, an immense source of strength, riches and vitality enters within us, of course you have to be conscious and aware, not creature of habit or distracted. I am not speaking of the sacrilegious ones because with them, men are already signing their own condemnation as Saint Paul says, I am talking about those people who get along in a state of grace, but have no momentum, have no power, do not have a vision of life full of enthusiasm and receive the Eucharist out of habit. Many Masses are celebrated casually, out of habit, thinking about something else, trying to hurry and, if possible, to skip some basic gestures, instead, God has taught us calmness, self-control, slowness, without lengthening it and coming to excess, but just what is sufficient for men to get to a more personal, intimate and conscious conversation with God. Parishes without the Eucharist are not reborn. Look at the Curate of Ars, although he was not very gifted and not very cultured, he transformed his parish and became a lighthouse because he went through long hours of Eucharistic adoration on his knees. The Triumph of the Eucharist could not have come with just our commitment. Look at how many are here collecting the lament of Jesus, many could have come and did not come, and I am sorry for this; there will be people who are fully justified, but not all of them are. It is not up to me to judge, but I just repeat what my Chief said, who is also your Chief. If we want to change the Church, then the Eucharist is to be restored at the center and heart of the Church. Dirty hands, the prayer says, have taken the helm; they can be cleaned up, they can go back to being as white as the day of ordination. Today Jesus disclosed a secret and said something that not even I had ever known, or at least not in such a clear way: the apostles could have been more than twelve. Jesus himself sent away some of them and it really looks like we are in the same situation. He could have had hundreds of people as apostles, but He makes no difference between twelve, twelve-hundred and twelve-thousand. To change the individual, the family, the Church, there is a need of personal commitment. You have no idea how much God takes to heart this Church transformation and asks, pleads, begs for prayers, sacrifices, fasting, sufferings. The Eucharist gives strength to experience dreadful sufferings to tired, tried and frail health people. Now I tell you a secret: it is a privilege to be the Bishop of the Eucharist, I have the Eucharist at home too, not only in the chapel, and when I go to bed, just when I am going to get under sheets and blankets, every night I take the communion and it is great to talk again with Jesus. He is the last person I am talking to in the day, to whom I show my love, to whom I ask comfort and support, and lately, when I fall asleep thanking God, the nights, at least for me, less for Marisa, are calm and peaceful enough. It's beautiful, it seems to relive Johnís experience when he reclined his head on Jesus' breast, to be able to fall asleep and be quiet when nagging memories of painful experiences, moments of stress and bitterness of the day return. Everything is soothing because there is Jesus that every night says to me: "Come to me you who are tired and weary and I will give you rest and peace" and the next day, although tired from sleepless nights, there is strength and energy. Sometimes I smile because I know that for the youngest among you, the former young people, just a sleepless night make you feel destroyed the next day, instead, I must say that I have the strength to resume the day with all its problems, difficulties and suffering, for I feel that Jesus the Eucharist is really sustaining me, physically, morally and spiritually; I could not live without Him, and I think I can say that, by now, if He were not present I would not either. You have not got the privilege to be able to fall asleep with Jesus the Eucharist, but remember what He told you, you can and must take a spiritual communion, and Jesus will come, the same Jesus who comes to me in a Eucharistic way will come to you in a real way, then you too start to get used to finish the day in this way and those among you who are married may live this experience together, live together this time of day so the marital love may strengthen more and more and will be always fresh, generous and unselfish; do it, try it and then you will tell me I was right. This too I entrust to your responsibilities, your memory, that you may in turn pass it on to others and it would be nice that in this world full of darkness, these flames were lit in the night and would finally light up everything, anticipating the triumph of the sun and the brightness of the moon, that is, the presence of Jesus Christ the Eucharist and Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. Now, as I will do the washing of the feet, I would like you to accompany this gesture with a particular intention: to repair sins and sacrileges committed by priests. I perform this act with this intention, you accompany me with the same intention and we will give Jesus the Eucharist a little affection and consolation because also in our ears the words of Christ, filled with anguish, resound, "I thirst". Let's give him a bit of love and a little attention to drink.