Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of January 25,2009
3RD Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jon 3:1-5, 10; Ps 24; 1 Cor 7:29-31, Mk 1:14-20
"A Bishop dressed in white, his knees at the foot of the big Cross, was killed by a group of soldiers firing at him several shots with firearms and arrows". This is a part of the third secret of Fatima.
The correct interpretation of this picture can only come from the author of the prophecy, God. Thanks to His kindness we are the first in the Church to have received the exact explanation. It was already present in my heart, but I was waiting for a confirmation from God and immediately it was given to me.
Who are those soldiers shooting at the faithful? Unfortunately they are the members of the Church hierarchy who all along the centuries and up to the present day are persecuting the charismatics, the seers, the prophets and all those whom God has called to accomplish certain missions in the Church.
The image of arrows and firearms may seem contradictory, but it points out that throughout the Church history there was no lack of persecutions: "If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you also" (Jn 15:20). In the early centuries, the weapons were arrows, but today they are different. Unfortunately, the responsibility falls on priests, bishops and even popes who have opposed God's plan. Historically, the ecclesiastics have always been the cause of schisms, heresies, struggles or conflicts. It is absurd that, for a wrong idea of wanting to defend the Church, we do not reveal faults and responsibilities of those who, along the centuries, have devastated her.
We must have the courage to say that today the Church is in a worse position than in the past: she is stricken by outside enemies, but first of all by inside enemies who are the most dangerous.
When you will read again the text of the third secret of Fatima, ponder on what I have explained; we must have the courage to tell the truth, because only truth makes us free indeed.
The theme emerging today from the Word of God is that of "time", often the subject of our prayers. Our Mummy, the Mother of the Eucharist, explained to us several times that time according to God does not coincide with what we, men of Earth, mean.
Let us rigorously ponder on some of the wording of today's readings, so we may understand its depth and then apply them to our experience.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus announces: "The time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God is near, repent and believe the Gospel" (Mk 1:15). It is a sentence full of spiritual concepts. The "time fulfilled" indicates that the time has come for the coming of the Messiah foretold by prophets. In reality, many centuries went by since the messianic announcement until the implementation of the same; it can be said that the whole history of the Jewish people is centered on the waiting for the Savior. Jesus then adds: "The Kingdom of God is near"; which means that men's redemption wanted by God is now imminent. It took about three years from this announcement until the actual realization of the prophecy.
"Repent and believe the Gospel": Our Lady too has often repeated this sentence. Conversion is a transformation of mentality from human to divine. With the sentence: "Believe the Gospel" Jesus means that now God's plan for salvation of man are about to become reality. Purification, as Our Lady often told us is a painful way for God to help man to shake off his torpor or his spiritual death and to rise again. What matters most to the Lord is to live spiritually. If for your conversion you need some shocks or something more, God is ready to do so, for He sees everything in the perspective of eternity and ultimate destiny of man, the eternal dwelling in Heaven. So when a soul is converted, the benefits of conversion are not limited to the individual being, but extend to the others as well. If one family member is converted, then the whole family will benefit from it; if more people in the Church are converted, the whole Church is affected by the positive benefits, if more people are convert in the world, the whole world will improve.
St. Paul writes in the second reading: "Time has grown short" (1 Cor 7:29). What does it mean the time has grown short if is now almost two thousand years since then? Again you have to consider that this sentence is combined with another expression from Paul: "the latter time". The correct meaning is that redemption lies in the latter part of human history during which mankind benefits from the effects of redemption itself. Today we live in the last history segment, and if this were to last for twenty, forty or a hundred centuries, theologically it makes no difference.
Now let us bear in mind some other statements: "Let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning..." (1 Cor 7:30). In these verses Paul is not preaching, as stated by some heretics, the imminence of the end of the world. In the second letter to the Thessalonians, in fact, referring to the end of the world, the apostle says: "Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way!" (2 Thess 2:1-3).
Paul did not believe in the imminence of the end of the world and to understand the correct meaning of this passage we must bear in mind two aspects: one is psychological and the other theological.
From the psychological point of view Paul has changed after the overwhelming experience of meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus: he is longing for the definitive reunion with the Lord, to be able to contemplate Him in the glory of Heaven.
From the theological point of view Paul is neither against marriage nor is prohibiting rejoicing or crying, but He is teaching something different. Whatever man's condition is, married, joyful or suffering, he must be ready to the call of God: first comes sister death and then the Last Judgement, proceeded by resurrection.
Paul is teaching us to be vigilant and to always have the lamps lit waiting for the coming of the Spouse. We must not behave like those unwise virgins who, not having enough oil, went to buy it and had no time left to get in with the Spouse when he arrived. Paul is recommending energy, vigilance, commitment and attention.
God gives everyone a chance to convert, but in the first reading of prophet Jonah there is a very important teaching: the conversion of the individual does not have a strictly personal value, but has an effect on all humanity. In fact, to the conversion of a single adds the conversion of another; all this has very important implications for society. This is the meaning of the expression: "When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened." (Jon 3:10).
Today, in the letter of God, Our Lady said: "The world is spiritually evil for sin is triumphing, the Decalogue is not met and men hate one another and offend God in many ways I again invite you all to pray for this world, I am not ashamed to say it again, that is going very badly and for the jobless people. Only with the prayer addressed to God you can achieve everything. Pray and think about those poor people who are left with no job, those babies who need to eat, to feed, to dress, to go to school and, unfortunately, there is nothing of all this in these other places, despite the efforts of many volunteers." (Letter of God, January 25, 2009).
The letter to God could be confined to the spiritual aspect only, but it also highlights another important aspect: the social realities depend on the moral realities. Many families have lost their jobs and it is a social tragedy. The private revelation tells us that if there were more love and charity in the world instead of sin, today we would not be in a terrible and troubling economic crisis. To affirm one's own ego and destroy the other to raise ourselves is a sin estranging our society.
If men are united with God, a Paradise on earth is created, but if you turn away from God, the Earth becomes a living hell. Today we live in hell: there are no certainties, no guarantees, there is an exaggerated individualism, selfishness carried to extremes: a couldn't-care-less attitude, deceit, envy and slander; thus the first to suffer are the poor and the weak. The others, for their own selfishness, live like Dives, who had everything he wanted when he was alive, but after his death he no longer had anything.
We also remember the parable of the rich man who decided to demolish his stores in order to build bigger ones to hold grain in abundance. All the stocked grain was taken from the poor and the weak and the Lord says to him: "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?" (Lk 12:20).
Today, the world could offer a satisfactory, serene and secure life to a greater number of people than at present. Many more people could live well if selfishness were not so dominant. Our Lady says that the responsibility is on the political and religious authorities and we should always rely on God to intervene and help us.
Our duty is to try to convert, but we need a genuine conversion. Our Lady invites us to a radical mentality change to come to think as God does. If we would manage this we would be more relaxed, more serene and confident, without any suffering and tension. Instead, humanity does not feel like making a big effort; it is really hard to think as God wants.
When we do not think as the Lord does, misunderstandings, anxiety, disappointments, difficulties and sufferings will occur, even among people who, like us, strive to follow Him. The problems with our community are mostly due to lack of love and sincerity, for there is the assertion of our own ego that is self-defending and wanting to impose on the others. Yesterday, during the meeting with young people, these problems have surfaced. You, young people, ponder on what I said yesterday and do not forget it. Some of you must say "mea culpa".
Next Saturday we will meet with you adults, but do not expect me to address you, you will have to talk and bring out the attitudes to be corrected and, if the case demand, we must also tell names. These are not accusations, we do not want a trial, but help our brother.
In the meeting with the youth I haven't been soft, but I said the truth. As Our Lady told me many times I have never reached Christ's severity. If Jesus was more severe and inflexible than me in certain situations, as it is clear from the Gospel, you adults must not expect hugs and kisses.
If I see within you the effort to tell the truth I will continue to talk and help you, otherwise I will go away, for I have no time to lose. You should be accustomed to my sincerity; I am only interested to bring you to God in the best way, with as much love and holiness as possible. This is the task that I was charged with, and if I also lose your sympathy to accomplish it, I do not care at all. When you will be in Heaven you will come and thank me, but to reach it you need to strip off your own self that is slow and last to die.
Among the adults there are some who have to say "mea culpa", but what counts is to get before God in the best way, with honesty and freedom. If this happens I will be available to give you my time which is so scarce, otherwise do not think I come to listen to you unnecessarily.
Remember what Jonah said: "Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" God was not tender and if He was not so tender, why should I be? You will give me the answer on Saturday.