Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of September 24, 2006
1st reading: Wis 2:12, 17-20; Psalm 53:3-6, 8; 2nd reading: Jas 3:16-4:3; Gospel: Mk 9:30-37
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (Jas 3:16-4:3)
After Paul's fourteen letters, we find grouped together some letters from different authors: one is James’ letter we have read today, then there is Judas’, two from Peter and lastly, three belong to John. Unlike Paul's letters, which had recipients, the others are called Catholic letters. The term Catholic means universal, therefore they are letters that the authors, inspired by God, have written to everyone, without nationality limits.
The author of this letter, perhaps little known, is James, but historians have doubts about the precise identity among Apostle James, son of Alpheus, called the Minor, to distinguish him from James, John’s brother and James the Just, Jesus' cousin, who became the first bishop of Jerusalem, killed in 62.
We cannot know for sure who, from the three above, the author is, but what matters is the particular reason why it was written. The author certainly belongs to the Jewish world, so he wrote this letter to hearten and encourage Christians coming from the Jewish religion, who suffered insults and persecutions from both Jews and pagans.
Furthermore, it is a letter directed against a specific group of Christians, the so-called laxers, or those who denied the need to also perform good works to have salvation, because according to them it was enough to believe. They had misunderstood the teaching of St. Paul, when he affirms that man lives for the faith, in fact Paul himself many times also spoke of the importance of living by doing good works.
This letter is an encouragement for everyone, regardless of whether they come from the Christian or the pagan world, to calmly face all those misunderstandings that are created within the community and the persecutions that break out outside it.
It is a letter that I would address to all rulers concerned with the spiritual, material, political, civil and judicial nature because effectively if everyone behaved in the way indicated in this letter, everything would be easier, even within families.
Fights usually take place between strangers, but there are conflicts, suffering, misunderstandings, mistrust, obstacles and difficulties even within the context of our own family, from the small one to the larger one, which includes all relatives. If I ask those of you who have not had problems within your own families, we should all be with our hands down, because unfortunately when there is jealousy and a spirit of contention, there is no possibility of living in peace within the family.
"For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice" (Jas 3:16); the jealous is the one who is holding back, because he does not want to share with others whatever belongs to him, both in the economic field and in the field of ideas and achievements. So, for example, if someone in the family acts by manifesting their personality, quarrels and discussions occur.
Jealousy is an element of division, opposition and conflict even in religious or lay communities united for certain purposes, such as praying or believing in certain revelations; we too have experienced it. So, if we don't want to have struggles, divisions, disorders, if we don't want bad deeds, the advice given by this wise apostle is to fight and fight within oneself the spirit of contention and jealousy. Where there is contention, nothing is achieved, because if one builds, the other destroys, if one tries to do something, the other hinders him to the point of preventing him from achieving anything. And this, unfortunately, how many times is happening! Politics is an example of this. If you look at the political lines in any nation, if one in the government says it is white, the other says it is black; it is difficult, almost impossible, that they agree and give the same judgment.
Unfortunately, the same thing happens in the Church, with the aggravating circumstance that the numerous Don Abbondio always go towards those in power, without looking if, at the other side, there is truth, justice and love. They only follow the power, so they hope, first of all, not to be troubled. As Don Abbondio said: "I am with you, because you are more powerful than the other" and turning to the other, he said: "I cannot stay with you, because you are less powerful, if you were more powerful I would be on your side". Then there are constant changes and so one is praised as long as he holds power, as soon as he loses it he is scorned. There is no character before, there is no character after.
"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere" (Jas 3:17): there is a close link between this verse and St. Paul’s hymn to charity, the same adjectives. Ultimately, we must live in God's grace to produce something good: both with the wisdom that comes from above, and with the charity that Paul praises. In fact, if the heart is good, good thoughts, actions and desires come out, if the heart is bad, bad thoughts, actions and desires come out.
Those who commit evil and voluntarily make people suffer, those whose goal is to destroy those who get in their way because they do not accept their directives, cannot be called children of God and members of the mystical body, even if they are highly placed.
Remember that the sign of union with God is to be in the truth and you find this sign in the love and wisdom of God, which is peaceful, meek, compliant and full of mercy. This only. We cannot say: "This is an authority, therefore he is in the grace of God", because here too we are disproved by Jesus, who said: "Blessed are the last!" and also "Tax collectors and prostitutes precede you into the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 21:32), therefore true holiness, the true greatness of man, the true wisdom that comes from above, the true love that has God as its source, we only find in the children of God. If we look around us and ask ourselves who are these children of God, we see many lay people, many simple people, who have no power, while all the others are far from God because they have exercised power and hoarded wealth only for themselves, they struggled and worked to reach important milestones only for their own career growth. They cannot say that they have brought forth fruits of justice or sown peace.
"A fruit of justice is sown in peace for those who work for peace" (Jas 3:18); if I have love, if justice is within me, I act and create peace around me, on the other hand, if in me there is no love, there is no justice, I produce divisions, struggles, misunderstandings and danger of wars. The chronicle of recent days should make you reflect on this dramatic truth.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?" (Jas 4:1). If there were any doubts, James explains the origin of wars, fights and quarrels that are not only fought with weapons, but also with bad behavior within families, communities, condominiums, associations and small groups. The cause of all this are passions: envy, jealousy, greed, pride and vanity. Those who have one, or more, or all, are necessarily opposed to the other. The greedy one cannot love. Whoever is false cannot love. Whoever is selfish cannot love. Those who voluntarily make others suffer cannot love. Therefore, whoever does not love is not with God, is hostile, he is an enemy of God; I cannot dwell at length on this dissertation, but please enjoy this passage word by word. Immerse yourself in this wisdom and remember that every book of Scripture, being inspired by God, contains the wisdom, the wisdom of God.
"You crave but do not have" (Jas 4:2) who is craving? Those who, in a spasmodic, avid way want something and go to war if they fail to possess the object of their greed. This is true for all the wars that are in the world. Do you believe that all Western armies moved to Iraq to do charity work? Why has no one intervened in Sudan and other countries? Because the war in Sudan is of no interest to anyone. People die and who cares? On the other hand, in Iraq, where is the interest? Oil fields. Here is the dramatic and unfortunate reality.
"You covet but you cannot get what you want" (Jas 4:2). The envious one is always ill, suffers all the time because he always wants something belonging to someone and is unable to get it. From someone you may desire beauty, from another intelligence, from yet another wealth, from another fame, the ability to speak, draw or sculpt, but all this causes envy. So what does the envious do? He tries to get what he does not have, he fights and makes war. As I said, it is not just a war fought with weapons, but also with the tongue, with slander. The tongue kills more often than the sword.
Then reflect on everything that has happened around our Movement, around you and especially around my person and Marisa. There was and there is a lot of envy. Some characters fight, they say that the apparitions are not true because they would like to manage them, because they know very well that they will pass and a few years after their death no one will remember them. Instead, even after decades and centuries, there will always be some talking about those who had this great mission from God, those who had the gift from God of seeing Our Lady and the one who received from God the shocking responsibility of the episcopate.
Here is envy. And then one may come to the point of saying: “I will destroy him, I will fight him!” Oh, you wretched, you are not fighting against me, you are not fighting against Marisa, you are fighting against God! And if you are fighting against God, at the end you will become ashes, while others will rise higher and higher in the knowledge of peoples that will succeed throughout the Church history.
"You do not have because you do not ask God" (Jas 4:2). What must we have and what does God give generously? Love, charity; if you do not ask for love, you will not have it, if you do not put yourself in the situation of welcoming the love coming from God, you will not have the other spiritual gifts. You ask, but you don’t get it, because you ask badly: I want this, I want this grace, this supernatural gift because in this way the others will regard me more, will respect me more.
Let’s be careful because this temptation has also infiltrated the soul of some of the members of our community: "I am here so that one day I will be able to participate in the triumph". This is not the reason why you should come to this place; those who have thought of living like this are no longer coming because they have not withstood the impact of suffering. So, let's go back and live as we were taught, the Year of Love is about to end, but it is the end of a particular year and after that we will have to love even more.
In these days I was just thinking whether another special year will succeed to this one. I thought it will be the Year of Holiness, that is, a general year, not a particular one. Now God can no longer be satisfied with half measures, half choices: either with Him or away from Him; either with Him or against Him; either with Him or with evil. It is no longer possible to continue with one foot on this side and the other one on the other side.
I am somewhat sorry that several people have gone away because it is always sad that some brothers leave the Father's house, but on the other hand I am comforted by the fact that they were not ready, because they were here for themselves, not for God.
You must come here for God, not for the Bishop or for the Seer, not because there are apparitions, not because the Bishop speaks well and enters your hearts, but you must come because God is showing here. I don't know of other places where God has shown with the same frequency as He is doing to Marisa and me in these days. That's why you have to come here; there might be a good memory of the people, but men pass away; remember that only God remains, you too will pass and when you are before God, what will He be asking you? "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink" (Mt 25:35). He will test you on charity and love.
This is the Year of Love, the next will be the Year of Holiness, not to glue a halo on our head like a carnival character, but to work so that the heart expands more and more in a greater love, in unshakable faith, in fearless hope. Only then will the strength of the theological virtues increase within you, the ability to have an ever more abundant grace and a holiness that will bring you ever closer to God. So, looking forward to December 8, 2006, best wishes of holiness!