Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of October 22, 2006
1st reading: Is 53:10-11; psalm 32; 2nd reading Heb 4:14-16; Gospel: Mk 10:35-45
You know that some years ago, some theologians, experts in sacred scriptures, to whom the letters of God brought by the Mother of the Eucharist were presented, after having read them carefully and critically, affirmed that they are full of references contained in the sacred scriptures. If you have carefully followed the letter of God that Our Lady gave us today and then the readings, you should have come to the conclusion that today's homily, as it has happened so many other times, was prepared by the Mother of the Eucharist. In fact, Our Lady explained the concepts in a simpler way than they can be gathered here, especially in Paul's letter to the Jews; she has broken them up and made them accessible to all in such a way that, if you have been careful, you should come to the same conclusion which you will reach at the end of the homily. What is today’s central theme? It is Jesus who suffers and dies to atone for the sins of all, so that all may become children of God. Well, today's readings immediately highlight two fundamental concepts: that Christ is both priest and victim and that He continues to exercise His ministry to the Church benefit.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Heb 4:14-16).
Paul, and we must insist on this because it is the word of God, does not say that we have had a great high priest in the past, but that we have Him in the present, a present that continues in the Church history. The expression "we have a great priest" can be attributed to all those who were present and were born from the beginning of Redemption, from the day of Christ's death to the present time. "We have a great high priest" could have been said by the apostles, the disciples and, after more than twenty centuries, we can say it too. As I have stated and even written many times to the great men of the Church, Christ, and this is clear from the Sacred Scripture, never retired, never abdicated His role; the Church belongs to Christ, the Church is founded by Christ, the Church is under the power of Christ. All those who are part of the Church, from those who occupy the highest authority to those lower in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, must be before Christ in a situation of submission, obedience and docility. Who is the priest? He is the one uniting God and man. The term Pontiff means precisely the bridge that joins the two banks where the same river flows. So to get to God, to receive the grace of the sacraments and Communion, we must make use of those who exercise priestly power and have the opportunity to get in touch with Him. Who has the power, more than anyone else, to put us in contact with God? He is Christ and therefore we cannot ignore Him. Those who claim that Christ delegated everything to the ecclesiastical authority and almost retired in good order demonstrate that they are ignorant of the scriptures or are in bad faith. They know very well how things are, but they say the opposite because, for their choices, for what they want to achieve, it is convenient to ignore what God wants. Let us be well aware that without Christ, the Church would not even last a minute, because in twenty centuries men have done nothing but try to destroy it. I have quoted several times the phrase that Cardinal Gracias referred to the enemies of the Church but I apply instead to those who should support it: “The Church continues quietly to bury its gravediggers”. Therefore Christ is the high priest, we must keep this truth unmoved in our hearts and we must show it. We must show and defend all the truths of faith, and one of the truths of faith is this, we must have the courage to say it, to repeat it and to oppose everything that is said differently from the truth of faith. Have you heard what Our Lady said today? "If they tell you something that is contrary to Sacred Scripture or the letters of God, either say bye bye and leave if you are not up to the task or you stop and fight to reaffirm the truth". This is exactly what you did in the great mission during which you experienced the ignorance and lack of preparation of many and the bad faith of others. Christ is always the head of the Church; it is a firm point of the Sacred Scriptures. The Church must be with Christ and stand before Him in a situation of listening and submission. Jesus, the high priest, understands all human frailties, He is not limited in time like the high priests of the Old Testament, but we must consider a time piercing the centuries and reaching the end of the world. Christ is high priest, but Christ is also a victim, and you should remember that Christ is also a victim every time you see the consecrated host. Do you know what the word "host" means? It means victim. It should not be difficult for you, when you are facing the Eucharist, to have the clear concept that you are facing the first, eternal, high priest. That Christ is a victim is already evident from the Old Testament, especially when reading Isaiah.
“Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities" (Is 53:10-11).
Indeed, it is impressive to read Isaiah, not only this passage, but also the following ones, where he speaks of Christ and where he describes in detail the sufferings, the pain that the servant of Yahweh will face. Look, taste, savor the words: "He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain" (Is 53:3). God wanted all this to be known seven and a half centuries before Christ was born, and to speak of His Son as "a man of pain, despised and rejected by men, the Lord willed to prostrate him with pain". The term "willed" means that His will was this. But what were the consequences of this suffering? Our Lady said it today; read again God's letters. He suffered for everyone and especially for sinners, and please reflect on Isaiah’s words: "And though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring, and prolong his days, (the sacrifice, until the end of the world), the will of the Lord will be fulfilled through him" and, after his suffering and death, he will see the light, that is, the Resurrection: "After his intimate torment he will see the light... my righteous servant will justify many and he will bear their iniquities”. Therefore in Isaiah, for those who can understand it, the Holy Mass is prophesied, which is passion, death and resurrection of Christ. Have you thus understood why we must be grateful to God? Because He makes available to us the riches that are in Him and that are shown in many ways. Today, for example, it shows through His Wisdom, which He may have bestowed on one of your brothers so that you can enjoy His word. Christ is the eternal high priest and victim, but Christ also called men to cooperate with Him. Let us now go on and comment the Gospel passage.
“Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
“You don’t know what you are asking” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” “We can” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mk10:35-45).
Let’s try to highlight some apostles; accidentally they are the same that Our Lady had always mentioned previously: Peter, Paul, James and John. Do you know what these four apostles had in common? They were impetuous. Jesus will call the two brothers James and John sons of thunder, precisely because of their impetuosity, and impetuosity is typical of those who live in the truth, it is like a river that carries forward and throws up any barrier that may hinder its path. The impetuous is the one who has a strong personality, he is not one who is slave to his weakness but one who uses his strength to carry out God's plan. Then, you too, never confuse the good and the holy with the one who is mawkish; no saint was such or manifested by being mawkish, all saints manifested as the strong Christ, the infinitely good Christ, the infinitely loving Christ, but also the Christ of strong words like "woe", or "go away Satan". If we talk about impetuous people, the first and greatest is Him but for the reasons I told you about. James and John, the two brothers, approach the Lord to ask for something. The Lord highlights the essential conditions to be able to be with Him for all eternity and enjoy the happiness of Heaven together with Him, that’s why Christ is asking them: can you suffer, can you drink the cup that I drink, the cup of suffering, can you receive the Baptism that I receive, the Baptism of pain, of passion? They said yes, then the Lord, as soon as they said "yes, we can drink it", had a motion of delicacy and a smile bloomed on His lips, because He saw that the answers from these two apostles, who had shown their will to follow Him forever, were authentic and sincere, The other apostles did not understand all this, but Jesus reads in the heart. Here too another reflection develops: how many times do we judge by appearances, by exteriority? If you only knew how many things there are underneath! We declare holy some people who will go to hell, we declare some people full of imperfections, yet, they will leave for Heaven as soon as they die. Why? Because we still have certain mental categories given to us by a false and useless devotion believing that saints are the ones with joined hands, crooked neck and stupid smile on their lips. These are not saints, forget it! The saint is the one who has this impetuous force that comes from God and fights against evil to defeat it. This is the saint, even if, in his apostolic work, he can be hard, because he has to be hard. A doctor or parent who is mushy with their patients or children will not heal them if they are doctors, they will not educate them if they are parents. So, today I have to tell my brothers, priests and bishops, that if they want to be in eternity with Christ, they must live their priesthood by paying in person, suffering if necessary, crying if necessary, shedding tears if necessary. If they do not do this and carve out a life full of comfort, convenience, wealth, a life in which their only goal is to conquer seats and power, then I say, in the light of the Gospel, woe to them, because they have already received their recompense, and at the moment of their judgment they will hear the strong and powerful words of Christ: "Go into the eternal fire prepared since eternity". This is the Gospel, this is the word of God, it must not be cloyingly tainted but must be communicated in its authentic truth, strength and power. This is what Christ teaches, this is what we invoke as Mother and teacher taught us today, this you must do if you want to be as Christ wants, that is, small hosts, small victims. Remember that these concepts shine also in the signs: the big host is Christ, the high and eternal priest is the man priest when he is one with Christ, the small hosts are all of you. But if you take the Holy Communion and refuse this reality of being hosts, of being victims of the Eucharist, you have little understanding. Then try to understand more by invoking the Holy Spirit because these things, in order to be understood and above all to be realized need human understanding, need someone who exposes them clearly so that you can adopt them, but to be implemented they solely need the aid and the grace of God that I am invoking upon you abundant and copious for all days of your life.