Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of September 28, 2008
1st Reading: Ezek 18:25-28; Psalm 24; 2nd Reading: Phil 2:1-11; Gospel: Mt 21:28-32
Once again, my explanations would not be necessary, but it would have been enough to have listened to the three passages of Holy Scripture now proposed in order to reflect, meditate and apply to ourselves what God said in both the Old and New Testament.
In the second reading my friend Paul is addressing the Philippians. I have not usurped the friend designation, it is enough for you to go back with your memory to the letters of God and you will find the confirmation of this. I never thought to take possession of this designation, if it had not been highlighted by God and the Mother of the Eucharist before I did it.
Paul's letter is a life plan: it would suffice to put into practice what the apostle said to these early Christian of the Philippians community to change radically, to be more like Christ is, and to make sure, even during our earthly life, to be able to knock one day at the Heavenly door when sister death will come to call us; Our Lady too has talked about it in today's letter of God. It will suffice to utter our name and hear, from the other side, a voice saying: "Come, blessed by our Father, come in the eternal joy that was prepared for you and those like you since eternity". This is Gospel, this is the Word of God. Hence our confidence.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Paul begins the letter by placing some conditions that must be fulfilled by man. If these conditions are met, you get to fully experience the spiritual life and you will rise more and more towards God, and we can now understand what the apostle, at the end of the first chapter, wrote: "It is a gift from God to believe in Jesus Christ and suffer for Him". In order to believe we need God's help, nobody can come to Him unless God himself, holding his hand, leads him to God. Men, on their own initiative, cannot convert. The conversion of every man, whether it happens in an ordinary or in an extraordinary way, depends on God who, on His own initiative, gives the possibility to convert. Paul says he has in his heart the spiritual life of every Church he founded, catechized or known in his apostolic journeys. His is the joy of every Pastor, priest, Bishop and Pope. This joy does not consist in increasing the number of believers or churches that are built in the world, nor in increasing the number of members of the clergy or the offerings the faithful donate to help the poor. These are indeed joys, but the biggest joy for priests, bishops and the Pope must be to know that in every Christian or in many Christians were met those conditions Paul is listing at the beginning of the second chapter of the letter to Philippians: "If we meet Christ, we will be comforted by Him". The apostle points this out because he has in mind the teachings of our Lord: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Mt 11:28). The real consolation does not go through a human communication, actually, it can go through it, but the source remains always and only God. In times of trial and sorrow remember what the Mother of the Eucharist said: "When hardship is crushing you, when suffering is tearing you apart, raise your eyes to Heaven and cry out: 'Our Father..., hold fast to the altar, hold fast to Jesus the Eucharistic and He will give you strength". Now we can add that God gives us the consolation to move forward. We need the consolation and sometimes we beg for it, however, in our experience, human consolation is small thing compared to divine consolation. I can disclose, even if you already know it, that Marisa and I in our suffering look forward to a word of comfort and encouragement from God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Mother of the Eucharist. They give us comfort, even if soon thereafter we face another difficult situation and we wait, once again, for our Lord to turn to us and talk with us as He has already done so many times. To have the communion of Spirit you must first be united to God. If you want to improve personal relationships in your family you must primarily and essentially improve the relationship with God. From there we draw from the eternal and everlasting source of love. We drink the love we can offer, communicate and make available to our brothers; if there is no love of God in our heart, we cannot give anything to others. What is the husband giving to his wife? And what is the wife giving to her husband? They cannot offer certainties. For this reason, divisions, conflicts, separations, courts, trials become a reality even among people who have blood, affection and kinship ties. The cause is the absence of union with God. World, the society, nations, your children, big and small, the Church herself, is living in a desert. We know that the desert is fought with water, if there is no spring there is no water, if there is no God, there isn't any possibility to fertilize the soil, hence the Church needs to be closely linked to God. When the men of the Church stand apart from God or, worse, when they fight the works He performs for the benefit of the Church, they scandalize the small ones and for them the strict and inflexible words of Christ apply: "It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck" (Lk 17:2). It's awful, on this sin the "woes" of God apply: it is a cause for eternal damnation to block the progress of one single soul in his spiritual journey. Compassion is not whining about others' misfortunes, but it is to look around and become aware of the sufferings of those around us, it is to reach out before a request is made, it is to give a word of comfort before the other shows his pleasure. "Compassion" means to suffer with the one who suffer, and if we do not feel it towards those who are poor, sick and needy then we are like dead plants that, as Jesus said, only serve to fuel a fire. The great statement "Do nothing out of vanity or conceit" should be, in the Church, one of the precepts imposed on candidates for Priesthood and Episcopacy. One must live his Priesthood and the Episcopacy as a service, not as a dominion or with supremacy. Priest and Bishop should be servants of God and souls: "Here is your servant", Mary said and put it into practice. Christ is present in Isaiah seven centuries before He incarnated as the servant of Yahweh, going toward His suffering. The prophet describes Him in such detail that those pages are called "the fifth Gospel". Christ himself gives us an example. Paul's exhortation to "Consider others better than yourself" does not mean to enslave or lose your own personality, but to live the spirit of the Gospel as Christ did, to live our service by focusing our attention towards the others. I also told you about one of my personal recollection, when, in a conversation with God, I told him: "My God, You know that especially at the beginning of this mission, when I was a priest for seven years", then not a novice, but not yet filled with so much experience as I could now say, "I considered the others better than me, I saw them more prepared, more intelligent, I thought they were more capable than I was". God replied: "That's why I chose you and I ordained you Bishop". The example comes from Christ. Paul writes these wonderful words of Christ who, though being God, is empty, gave up all of his divine attributes or, more accurately, He hid them; He covered his divinity, his omnipotence and omniscience to be like any other man. Christ's humanity, the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, is exactly that. God came down to our level with incarnation and became man, accepting all the consequences of humanity except sin and it is really wonderful to meet Christ, thirsty, tired, hungry. He is the One who multiplied the loaves, so why didn't He multiply the loaves for himself? Why during the Flight into Egypt did He allow the passage through the desert to be so painful and worrisome especially when the notorious wind would rise and the sand would penetrate through clothing and offend the sight? He could have raised His eyes and say "enough" as during the storm at sea, when called by the apostles. Think of these things: Christ could be exempted from suffering, but he faced it. He made Himself small, a little child, teenager, young, good, so that men would not fear Him. He followed all the stages of life. It seems He is growing, but can you talk about growth in God? Yes as a man, not as God. He is infinitely perfect and just because he humbled himself, the Father exalted him. Now all rational and irrational beings, the angels, the whole creation, starting with Our Lady, must bow and worship Christ, true God and true man. By following Him in his self-denial, sacrifice and concealment you will realize that to get to God we walk the path of sacrifice and suffering.
Now I wish to update you, as members of this community, that forty thousand people, in a week, have returned to God as already announced by the Mother of the Eucharist. There were twenty thousand conversions among the young people. This mission began on July 21, for a month we did not go over twenty thousand conversions. You may be asking what is the reason why in one week there were more conversions than in a month. The increase of suffering made it possible to achieve this result. Going back to what Paul says: "It is a gift of God to suffer", here is the suffering that is scary and awful! It is guaranteed by the one who has lived this week as a Bishop and priest near the victim. We had a week of nightmares, where many times our heart hastened its beat because it was crushed by strain and fear. This mission, so hard and long lasting, has been going on and many souls, especially young people, are returning to God.
In the excerpt from the book of Ezekiel, we read:
Yet you say: 'The way of the Lord is not right'. Hear now, O house of Israel! Is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right?
How many times we dared to say: "God cannot do this, it is impossible that he did it". But who are you to tell God what can or cannot do, are you the ones to give permission to God? I am not referring to you here, but to others. Last night we had an experience where God wanted to emphasize that He is close to us, even when asking a suffering that seems to destroy the person. Through Marisa's experience, we learned many things that are not found in any theology, ascetic, dogmatic or moral book.
I have said several times that God truly manifested as a Dad and that's why we call Him this way: He is Dad who talks, listens, replies, plays and jokes. I never talked about any other way in which God is manifesting that I am aware of. Last night, in one of the many and frequent dramatic moments of our sister, at the end of the H. Mass, while I was saying a spontaneous prayer, suddenly Our Lady came and God was there too. The mother of the Eucharist told us about a fact that shocked Marisa and me and it may shock you too, for nobody has ever said it; only Our Lady could see God for as long as we are on Earth no one can enjoy the sight of God, not even those who are in the Waiting Paradise. The Mother of the Eucharist said: "God is crying right now, two tears are running down on his face, for He is suffering for what the Bishop and Seer are suffering". God was crying. You can say anything you want, both you and the others who are not part of this community, I do not care, I say what I know, live and experience. Had you ever thought just a few years ago that God would be laughing and joking? Have you ever thought until two minutes ago that God would be weeping while seeing the suffering of his children? Now you know. Again, I'm ready and indifferent towards those who stand in as judges and say: "This cannot be". Just ask them if they have ever been in Heaven or if they have had supernatural experiences. To those who say that this concept is not in the Bible I have to remind that all the books on the Earth would not be sufficient to contain the teachings of Jesus and what He said. For sure Jesus spoke to his apostles about it. Christ gave the co-founders and pillars of the Church many more teachings than are contained in Holy Scripture and Gospels. The revelation, the manifestation and knowledge of God follow a progression. Theologians are only able to stammer something about God; you know much more than theologians and professors of ecclesiastical universities do. They know well what the theologians who preceded them have said in the teachings, they may also know what the doctors of the Church and the fathers of the Church have written in their wonderful comments, but the knowledge of God is unlimited. In one or two hundred years time, if He wills, God can still manifest something about Himself and as far as we are concerned, when we will be in Heaven for eternity, our knowledge of God will be continuously enriched and updated. Eternity is not enough to understand God, we cannot understand Him, we are too small and limited. Infinity in no way can be understood by what is finite, and we are finite, limited. I invite you to think and imagine the weeping Christ. This scene, described in the Gospel, is touching us, but isn't Christ God? Who can say that only those with a body can cry? God is Almighty and does what He wants, and to make his children called to a hard life, impossible in some respects, understand, He is manifesting in this way and with this attitude. Now you understand Marisa's frequent plea to be held by hand and escorted to Heaven. This desire of hers to go and enjoy God is now incessant because, although aware that suffering is a gift, after experiencing it for decades, it is human to hear her saying: "My God, it is enough! I'm over with it, I cannot stand it anymore". But God continues to ask those He called, those few who are faithful and close to Him, to live a devastating sacrifice that strips the flesh off, and this is the reason He is crying and suffering. One can never get used to suffering; those who suffer do not get used to it, others can get used to the pain of a sick person at home, due to lack of sensitivity or lack of love. When someone loves you participate in the suffering of a loved one and if I suffer for my sister, so much more the One who has infinite love will suffer for his son. These reflections seem normal, but unfortunately, are not part of the teachings and doctrine of the Church.
Now one last question: "What can we do? What can you do?" Intensify what you are already doing and with more love. If you only knew how many things I have to say, but I will end with an example: if I ask to you all to fast, that is I ask the same thing to all of you, the answer will be different and more or less pleasing to God. While performing the same action, whatever is done with greater love has a greater value for God. If Our Lady and I say a prayer, hers is vastly superior to mine because she is full of grace and love. It is no longer sufficient to continue to do what you did, but you have to do what the Mother of the Eucharist is saying over and over again: love more and more. The more you will love God, the more you will love the Bishop, the more you will love the Seer, the more you will love each of you, the more you will love your family, the more you will love your enemies and the same action you did a month ago and repeated today, is pleasing to God in different ways. Have you understood this concept? Love, love, love, grow in love and everything becomes clear, beautiful and comfortable in the light of God.
Praised be Jesus Christ.