Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of March 23, 2008
1st reading: Acts 10:34, 37-43; 2nd reading: Col 3:1-4; Psalm 117; Gospel: Jn 20:1-9
The Resurrection is the centrality of Easter. Paul says that if Christ had not risen, our faith would be in vain and we bow reverently before these words. The Resurrection clearly shows that Christ is God and what he did was for the benefit of all mankind. To fulfill the redemption of all men, the few drops of blood shed by Christ at the moment of circumcision would have been enough. Christ, in fact, is true Man but also true God and every human action, even the most modest, even the smallest of his sacrifice, has an infinite redemptive value. He is God and all that relates to Him is universal in scope, and of infinite value.
Then the question that arises is: "Why so much suffering?" After eight days from birth, all Jewish babies were circumcised, then, everyone sustained the same suffering and with the same intensity. This being so, how could Jesus make us realize the enormity of His love for us, pouring just a few drops of blood, or how many of us would have accepted and believed that a few drops of blood would be sufficient to accomplish the Redemption?
The dramatic reality, privately revealed to us years ago, is that despite all this suffering, many lay people and also many priests do not believe in the Resurrection.
It is now clearer for us why God does not intervene when faced with a multitude of consecrated ministers who do not believe, do not appreciate and do not accept what he has done with so much suffering and so much sacrifice, all this culminating with the Resurrection.
For the moment let's stop before Christ, who suffered in such a cruel and dreadful way.
On Holy Thursday our Lord establishes the Eucharist: Jesus the Priest offers all of Himself as a victim. In the Jewish Easter the lamb had to be consumed in its entirety and the bones burnt, nothing was going to be left and this is the symbol of Christís total sacrifice. He gave all of Himself, every part of his body, every little flap of his skin was torn apart, he bled, was hit and humiliated. In this we see and understand his love, in the face of this we are stirred, moved and we can change: Jesus Christ instituted the sacrifice.
Now let us refer to the Eucharist. Christ is alive and present in the Eucharist, for the Eucharist is sacrifice, communion and presence. On Holy Thursday also Our Lady was present during the institution of the Eucharist and received it. Jesus the Eucharistic entered his motherís heart and remained alive in Mary even when he was killed and died for us. The only person who received and kept God, the Christ, was his mother. We should not wonder because everything is possible to God. Mary was redeemed because to her were applied in advance the merits of Passion and Death of Christ. This was taught by Pius IX in the Bull "Ineffabilis Deus", where he established the dogma of the Immaculate Conception because, for God, there is no difference among present, past and future. While in the Apostles, the Eucharistic presence remained until the Eucharistic species of bread and wine lasted in their body, in Mary the Eucharistic species have been preserved: i.e. Jesus was alive and present in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in His Mother, both on Holy Friday and Saturday.
When Jesus died on the cross, Matthew tells us, the earth shook, rocks split, the veil of the temple was divided in two parts right to the end and everything was so frightening that the centurion, leader of the soldiers who had led Jesus onto the Golgotha, exclaimed: "Surely he was the Son of God" (Mt 27:51-54). The land reacted with horror and was violently shaken before the Creator who was killed by the creatures possessing intelligence and heart. In the afterworld reality the situation is totally opposite. When Christ died on earth, darkness descended, and there was fear, in the afterworld something different took place.
Let's talk about what happened in the underworld, which is not the hell as we understand it, but the location, the condition of the righteous ones of the Old Testament waiting for the Messiah and the redemption worked by Him. At the moment when Christ died, the underworld was lit by a wonderful light, one could hear a giddy song and a great joy was unleashed: those who were there, and many were there since many centuries, were waiting for Jesus to lead them into Heaven. There were the patriarchs like Abraham, Isaac, and the prophets, many of whom had sacrificed their lives, holy kings like David, holy priests like Aaron, not only those belonging to the Jewish people but also all the people born before the beginning of the Jewsí history. Millions of souls went from the underworld to Heaven, and with this we understand the benefits and greatness of Redemption. Just as to Mary, without sin and full of grace, from the first instant of her conception, the merits of the Son were applied in advance, so all the righteous ones of the Old Testament, not only just the Jews but also everybody respectful of the natural laws, with Godís help, solicited in advance by the Redemption, Passion and Death of Christ, were saved and went to Heaven. This means that Jesus, by His Passion and Death, saved millions of souls before he was born, suffered, died and rose again. Jesus descends into the underworld and takes with Him an immense crowd that is welcomed in Heaven by the Father, the Holy Spirit and by all the celebrating angels praising the Crucified, the Redeemer. Jesus who was present in divinity and soul, since his body was in the tomb, joins the Trinity, so the redeemed of the Old Testament may give praise, homage and worship to the Triune God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Christís body was in the tomb and Jesus, in Body, Blood and Divinity was alive in those days in His Motherís heart, the only person who believed and waited for the Resurrection. The apostles, to whom Christ had done catechesis, had forgotten or had not understood that Mary would converse with her Son and was always united to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Therefore it is impossible to think that Mary did not witness the triumphal entry of his Son in Heaven. No one could argue otherwise. If God allowed the creatures entrance into Heaven, as you well know, He could hardly have prevented the full of grace.
What I will tell you now makes me feel a bit uneasy. You know that Our Lady said, two years ago in public message, that at Marisaís death I will accompany her to Heaven and thereafter I will return to earth. If God has granted this privilege to me, and I am not speaking out of pride but to make you well understand, even more so he granted it to Mary. She is the most holy and closest creature to God so we can say that Mary participated in this triumphal procession. We have to imagine the scene: Jesus at the center, Mary on one side and Joseph on the other, the family of Nazareth gathered in the heavenly glory. Mary, in bilocation, was in Heaven for as long as Jesus remained there in his soul divinity. When the time for the Resurrection established by God the Father came, Jesus, with the Trinity, came down from Heaven and Mary was before the Lord, the only person who saw what really happened. Neither the soldiers nor the pious women, nor the apostles witnessed the Resurrection. As Death took place in fear of nature so the Resurrection took place in the silence of nature and in the glory of God. All of Heaven was there, before the tomb that at one point blew with an immense and divine light. Jesus, true God and true Man, passes through the impediments of rocks. We know that, from that moment, on several occasions, he showed to some people and we have to kneel before Him, together with the Mother who adores the Son and proclaims Him Son of God and her Son, her Redeemer and Savior.
Maria is grateful because she knows that if there is no original sin, or the shadow of the slightest sin or any imperfection in her, it is also due to the Passion and Death of her Son; she is the one thanking the Son as Immaculate Mother, preserved from original sin because He suffered and died for her too.
For centuries this concept has remained obscure to human understanding and intelligence, and after twenty centuries God decides to make it known to men in the simplest way. As at that time He chose the shepherds, the weakest, the least credible and not priests or teachers of the law, to spread the news of the birth of the Messiah, so today He chooses the humble and small ones to make these truths known; these events are not told in the Gospel but are part of private revelation that is always coming from God. We are the last and those who arrogantly remind it to us, we answer: "we are the last but we also know that the last shall be first". It will happen what the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit have announced many times. Even today God repeated it when He said: "I have risen for you too, Excellency", so that what God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit told us would be realized. We should always remember all the good, the grace, the love that is present in the world is not from men but from God, to whom goes, at this time, our praise, our thanks and our gratitude. God has surprised and confused us because once again it happened what is written in Isaiah: "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways" (Is 55:9). God's way is still the only and real one leading us to the conquest of the full truth, to eternity and union, to eternal enjoyment. All is worth in the eyes of God for the rebirth of the Church and the salvation of souls.