Eucharist Miracle Eucharist Miracles

Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of February 26, 2006

1st reading: Hos 2:14-15, 21-22; Psalm 102; 2nd reading: 2 Cor 3:1-6; Gospel: Mk 2:18-22

Today we will comment on the first reading, extrapolated from the book of the prophet Hosea, as we have already spoken in previous years about the passage from the Gospel of Mark and that of the second letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians.

Thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will draw her to me, lead her into the desert and speak to her heart. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as when she left the land of Egypt. I will make you my bride forever, I will make you my bride in justice and law, in benevolence and love, I will betroth you to me in faithfulness and you will know the Lord”.

The prophet Hosea uses images and concepts concerning the love between spouses, but in this case he describes the great love of God for his people. I believe that in this passage from the Old Testament the great love that God has for the Church is also anticipated, a community of men who, as we say in one of the invocations of our litanies, accepts the word of God, recognizes the validity of the sacraments and is led by the ecclesiastical hierarchy. It is a simple and luminous description, but, unfortunately, throughout history, this community, sometimes because of the faithful, sometimes because of the pastors, sometimes because of both, has detached itself from the word of God and has lived in an antithetical and in opposition to the teachings of Christ contained in the Gospel. Not for this did God cease to love his Church: he helped and supported her and even when men, often those in high places, rejected and marginalized him, the Lord continued to be always present in his Church.

The words of the prophet Hosea indicate one of the moments in which God expresses his love for the Church. It is a difficult and critical time. If you have read it carefully, in fact, it is God who wants to restore and make the Church shine with an intense light. “I will draw her to me”. This expression is already typical of affectionate relationships, relationships of love. It is the magnet that attracts the iron and it is the iron that lets itself be attracted by the magnet. In this case, with all due respect, the one who exercises the task of attracting to him is God who knows men perfectly, one by one. As Psalm 139 says, even before we are born we are already known and present in the mind of God, so if God loves us before our birth, before our existence, how much more can we say that this love becomes real, concrete and effective in the period of our life. It does not matter to God if we are dirty with mud, covered with wounds or sick, what God wants is that we do not resist his embrace, his hug, his strength of attraction: "I will draw her to me".

Yet, to change you have to go through reflection, meditation, you have to become aware, and this is what God makes Hosea say: "I will lead her into the desert", that is, God wants the Church to get rid of all encrustations of power and wealth because these are not the forces on which it must be based and act. Unfortunately, the men of the Church, for centuries and still today, have pursued and continue to pursue these objectives. The Church has incrustations which she must get rid of in order to be simple and to manifest that identity that God willed and created.

"I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart." The expression speaking to her heart, that is, speaking to her love, means that God seeks to arouse love in these people, because once God's love begins to blossom, it makes it grow, empowering strengthening comprehension and intelligence thus manifesting to the very end. The restored Church will return to shine as in the early days of its history, when the gifts of God were present, numerous and shared by many people, not only by the apostles, but also by the faithful. There was an abundant outpouring of the action of the Holy Spirit. This is what the Lord today, through Hosea, says to the Church: “You will return to be as I have instituted you, as I have founded you”. It is a joy that expresses certainty, possession of truth, that joy that we have often encountered lately when reading St. Paul. How many times has he spoken of joy, how many times has he invited the souls who were entrusted to him to live the Christian message in joy!

“I will make you my bride in justice and law”. Unfortunately this has not always been the case in the Church. I think the time has come to eliminate the commonplaces, recurring but false. One of them concerns Peter’s supremacy. We believe in it and bow before Peter and his successors, but not all successors were like the first Pope. It is out of place to say that all Popes were elected by the Holy Spirit and history disproves this affirmation. How is it possible that a Pope elected three times, who sold his pontificate and then took it again, to be elected by the Holy Spirit? It is absurd. The Holy Spirit sustains the Pope in the correct exercise of his pontificate, that is, God guarantees the successor of Peter not to make mistakes in teaching others, but in the personal behavior every Pope must, like a common faithful, answer to the grace and behave properly, otherwise there would be a split between what is said and what is done. This is also foreshadowed in the introductory prayer, in the so-called collect prayer: "Grant, Lord, that the course of events in the world may take place according to your will in justice and peace", that is to say that it is right to say that God is the greatest protagonist in history, it is also right to say that God has outlined the course of history in justice and righteousness, but men, using free will, can distort, hinder God's plan. God stops before human freedom, you know it, and this, unfortunately, is painful. If on the one hand it raises man to be the one who is respected by God, therefore it is a positive judgment, on the other hand it places man in the condition of opposing God's plans. Our Lord allows this opposition until it becomes extremely harmful to his Church. Then he intervenes to restore law and truth: "Grant, Lord, that your Church may commit with serene trust to her service". The service of the Church is evangelization, going to the least and the poor, trying to be truly the authentic preacher of the Gospel. This is the task of the Church and if similar prayers are authorized by the ecclesiastical authorities, unconsciously, at least, it is an admission that things are not going well, otherwise there would be no need for this prayer and different prayers would be said such as thanksgiving, gratitude and appreciation prayers, not prayers of supplication to be able to carry out one's duty properly, in justice and righteousness.

I was thinking of coming to a practical, concrete conclusion. I have always lived the anniversary of my priestly ordination as a feast of priesthood. Even today you were invited by Our Lady to pray for the Church, but I would like these prayers to have a purpose and to be addressed in a more precise way. I ask you to begin with insistence, without interruption, to pray for the Church of Rome, for the diocese where we belong. It is the first Church, it is the cradle of Christianity, it is a Church sanctified by the blood of so many martyrs, substantiated by the presence of so many saints, but, unfortunately, also muddied by the presence of so many sinners at any level: faithful and pastors. Let us pray for the Church of Rome in a proper way, in an unceasing way and each one adds a prayer for his own parish and for his own priests. Do you remember when Our Lady invited us to adopt a priest? I invite you to adopt all the priests of Rome and in particular the priests of your parish, so that they really may all be pastors according to the heart of God. This is what rebirth consists of. Today too, she asked to pray for the conversion of the men of the Church. We must concretely respond to these repeated appeals with a daily, incessant, pounding prayer, so that each of us is, before God, a lamp that burns unremittingly and sends its light with a longer ray that is the diocese and with a shorter ray that is your own parish. We love the Universal Church, but we must turn a stronger love to the particular Church, which we all belong to. Our diocese has a high positive potential, it has good priests, but they are afraid to say what they think, they are afraid to do what they would like, they are afraid that someone could dismiss them and deprive them of their office. We will ask the Holy Spirit to bestow on these good, honest and chaste priests, the strength coming from God: a strength that does not admit fear, a courage imposing on everybody, a testimony raised to the highest degree of suffering. This we must ask for the priests and God is ready to grant it, because more than me, more than you, He is interested in keeping, in having, in increasing and improving his priests, because the priests are the ones sustaining the action of the Christ.

I would say this in connection with the anniversary of my priestly ordination, which unfortunately, like every year, is a feast that is anticipated by so much suffering and so many tears. God wants this, let's try to have the strength and the serenity to give it, because, at times, we feel like Isaiah: prostrated, tired, exhausted and just wanting a little rest and a little tranquility. By telling you this, I have opened my heart to you. Keep in your heart the recommendation to pray, pray, pray for our diocese and for the parish of each of you.