Eucharist Miracle Eucharist Miracles

Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of January 22, 2006

1st reading: Jon 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 24; 2nd reading: 1 Cor 7:29-31; Gospel: Mk 1:14-20

Today we have to do a little study to well understand the Word of God and place it in our hearts, so that it drives us to change our existence. We must try to compose the writing logically so that a unitary discourse and a wonderful catechesis may emerge. To understand well what I am about to say, you must give a historical and logical place to the first part of the Gospel of Mark and to the first part of Paul's letter to the Corinthians: first there is Christ, not only in importance, authority and greatness, but because he is our Messiah, the Savior, the Redeemer and then there is Paul, because when Christ speaks, the work of salvation has not yet been completed. This is why I invite you to start, as the Mother of the Eucharist did, from the passage taken from Mark.

“After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and said: "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near; repent and believe in the Gospel".

Passing along the sea of ​​Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon's brother, casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them: "Follow me, I will send you out to fish for people." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. Going a little further, he saw James, son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a boat preparing their nets. Without delay he called them. And they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and went after him" (Mk 1:14-20).

"The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near; repent and believe in the Gospel". The accomplished time is the time of waiting. In fact, in the biblical vision there are two moments: one of waiting, which is summarized in the Old Testament and the other of realization, which is contained in the whole New Testament. So the time of waiting is completed and the kingdom of God is near, that is, salvation is about to be fulfilled. By now Christ is incarnate, he has begun his public life and has called the apostles, consequently he is setting out to carry out the mission of salvation that has been entrusted to him by the Father.

This talk regarding the passage of the Gospel is placed before the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, but with the passion, death and resurrection of Christ the picture changes completely. First of all, we do not know how long it will last, but the last period of the history of salvation has begun, starting exactly with the very work of salvation.

“I tell you this, brothers: time has become short; henceforth, those who have a wife, live as if they did not; those who cry, as if they weren't crying; those who rejoice, as if they did not rejoice; those who buy, as if they did not own; those who use the goods of the world, as if not engrossed in them, For this world in its present form is passing away" (1 Cor 7:29-31).

Paul uses the expression: "Time has become short", because a part is now over. You don't have to infer that Paul thinks Christ's return to judge is imminent, but in a vision of the end times we are now moving towards the end that no one knows if it will last twenty, forty, fifty centuries or beyond because you know that only God knows the moment of the end of the world. So Paul cannot stand in a situation that can see him even in the slightest contrast with the teaching of Christ. However, the expression "Time has become short" does not exactly translate the Greek expression that Paul used, because if we wanted to be strict and precise the exact meaning is "Time has had a turning point", that is to say "Time has changed". The turning point consists in the realization of the work of salvation and, by now, man is in the situation, if he wishes, to begin a definitive relationship with God beginning on earth and finalized in Heaven. So what must be most important for man is to put all his primary commitment in the goal of being united with God.

Paul’s expressions mentioned thereafter should be taken as an emanation and manifestation of the apostle's enthusiasm. Paul is not against marriage, activities or those who mourn but he says that first of all we don't have to worry about what is part of the earthly world in order to have our gaze turned towards the ultimate realities. This is the precise meaning of everything Paul says. Then you understand that Christ's invitation "Convert!” from a literary point of view has the meaning of changing mentality. Those who adhere to Christ must have the mentality of Christ and must primarily make the same choices made by Christ: to love God and the neighbor.

Be converted! Here then is the episode that is told in the first passage taken from one of the Minor Prophets: Jonah. These prophets are called minor not because they are of lesser importance than the great ones: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel; but it is an expression of Saint Augustine to indicate that the contents of their writings are shorter than those of the prophets I have just mentioned.

"This word of the Lord was addressed to Jonah: "Get up, go to Nìniveh, the great city, and tell them what I tell you." Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord.

Nìniveh was a very large city, it took three days to go through it. Jonah began to walk the city for a day's walk and preached: "Another forty days and Nineveh will be destroyed."

Citizens of Nìniveh believed in God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

God saw their works, that is, that they had turned from their wicked conduct, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened" (Jon 3:1-5, 10).

God calls Jonah to go and preach conversion to Nineveh, therefore to a pagan people, but the prophet is not happy, he refuses and runs away. He goes onto a ship, but is caught in a storm and is shown as the one responsible for the divine wrath that caused it, so they think it is proper to get rid of him by throwing him overboard. The biblical story tells that Jonah is swallowed by a fish, after three days he is spat back on the shore and finally goes to Nineveh. This story is to be understood from the point of view of the parable genre, taking elements from reality, unlike fairy tales which instead takes them from the imagination, so this fish has not really swallowed and then spat back Jonah, but the Lord refers to it in a parable sense. We cannot see promise of miracles where there is no reason for it to exist, what matters is not the literary genre with which certain realities are expressed, but the realities themselves. In this story the realities are those of the conversion of this city, a pagan city, which hadn’t had the revelation from God, who listens to a stranger, Jonah, a Jew, and then everyone, starting with the king, dress with the sack of penance and begin penance.

In this I see the authentic conversion spreading more and more among the laity abd I see the conversion of priests in the call that Jesus addressed to the first apostles: Simon, Andrew, James and John. I would like to emphasize that these apostles left everything, namely safety, family, work, way of life, to go towards the uncertain. They did not know what would happen by following Christ, they did not know what the change in their life would be but they accepted it because they recognized that the Christ, previously indicated by John as the Lamb of God and the Messiah, was really the Messiah. So they totally joined Him without knowing what the Lord wanted. In seeing the conversion of the members of the hierarchy, that is, of the apostles who are bishops, I would like to light up the hope to see the conversion of priests and bishops. The conversions of the men of the Church are so important that the Church celebrates the conversion of St. Paul on January 25, that is, a persecutor who became an apostle, an enthusiastic and fanatic Pharisee who became a preacher of the Word of God. From all this we must conclude that when God operates He chooses ways He knows are appropriate for the people He is addressing. Then we hope and wait with confidence and always keep in mind that "the kingdom of God is near, convert and believe in the Gospel".

If the inhabitants of Nineveh had not converted, the city would have been destroyed and this reminds us of Our Lady who has long been saying that purification has now begun. Unfortunately in the churches no one says to convert because the natural disasters that are taking place are signs that the Lord is getting tired of us. They don't do this because they think that if they said this they could cause people to be afraid. Afraid of what? Our Lady revealed to us that many natural disasters have been averted through prayer and people's conversion. Then we must not hide behind this false fear, but say it, so life will become more peaceful, quieter and better. God does not want our suffering, but sometimes he is forced to arouse suffering to make people think. Then convert and believe in the Gospel. I would not want it to be a new plea made by Christ falling into indifference, into a lack of response and not accepted by men because what really matters is that men change. Now, as even those who have responsibility for public affairs say, we can no longer go on like this, it is a disaster. There are no two people in high places, or politicians or religious or ecclesiastics who are able to find a shared way to achieve the common good; each one aims for their own good, no longer for the good of society because what matters is the personal advantage or their own group. This is not what God wants and then we all really need to convert, to believe in the Gospel, to believe in the Word of God.

To conclude, what I can say is that where we cannot reach then God's action will, an action of enlightenment, persuasion, comfort, stimulation and help, so that men may truly return to Him and recognize that without God there is only poverty and sadness, while the man returning to God will truly experience that joy of living that unfortunately has now been lost.