Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of December 31, 2008
1st reading 1 Jn 2:18-21; Psalm 95; Gospel Jn 1:1-18
No thought and no reflection were foreseen until a short time ago for my part because other and more depressing thoughts occupied my mind and heart. Not to harass you there is only one thing I wish to say. I can see that every feast we celebrate, since a few years, is more depressing than the previous one and we are more and more inclined to fatigue, physical and psychological wear, we are tense and embittered and then what can we do in this atmosphere? Once more the word of God is shedding light and is placed in such a position that is unavoidable not to keep in mind what God wants us to know.
I have always said to you that the Word is so rich that it can lend itself in a wonderful way to explain any situation and that is why I got the urge to tell you about the first reading we have just listened to: "Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth". The first words are most illuminating: "This is the last hour"; it is clear here that John is reflecting on the coming of the Messiah, and when that happens, it will be the last act of God's plan. In fact, after this event, there will be only the flesh resurrection and universal judgment but this is an eschatological reality. I would like to think, with all my strength, that this reality we are experiencing is really for us the last hour of that expectation that according to human logic lasted beyond belief. When, almost thirty-eight years ago, we were called up to start our journey to carry out the mission, I was far from thinking that the wait would have lasted for nearly four decades. I used to think that God in his action was swift. Waiting so long I had not planned and I can say that if I had been told, a "Yes" would not have succeded to get out from our hearts, but we would have said a respectful and peaceful "No". No one can mortgage four decades of his life waiting for so long and this gives me the right to proclaim that we live now the last remnants of this expectation. I say it again: I want to believe it with all my strength and I do not want to consider any other possibility.
It is not enough to highlight these first words of the letter of John, but it is also necessary to dwell on what is said later. Not long ago, Our Lady made this statement: "Believe me, there will be no antichrist". The sense is that there will be no one able to create around him a movement of opposition, universal in scope as the redemption of Christ was, and therefore to see two antagonists: the Redeemer and a man who has such strength to compete with Him. This is what Our Lady meant and this also helps us to understand John, when he writes: "In fact, now many antichrists have come". The term antichrists shall mean single opponents, I won't say any name, but you already know them, there is a very long list, and we have met them and this is our test, misfortune and bitterness. Unfortunately, we have come across many of them, for those who deny God's works and fight them are authentic antichrists. The absurd thing is that they have collected around them an extremely important number of people, instead the "sweet Christ on earth", who is the one speaking to you as stated by the One above, gathered around him a small group of tired, sick and elderly people, a small group of twenty young people who are a drop in the ocean of the youth world.
On our side there is the One who makes the difference: Christ, who was active in the public life for less than four years, and some argue that it was less than three and half years. I can say that these last four years in Marisa's life and mine have been the most dramatic of the nearly thirty-eight years of our history, and you too are aware of it. So I ask the Lord: "Lord, if You lived it for about four, why do you expect us to go further?" If I were to indicate the precise time of Christ's earthly life, which coincides with what we live every day, I would say: the Passion. We live in the time of Passion and the difference is that ours is much longer. His was shorter, but certainly more intense as pain and suffering. It is clear, therefore, that we have the right to say to Christ, today during H. Mass and H. Communion, when we converse with him: "Lord, now the time has run out". He might reply: "Who are you to indicate the date to God?" We are no-one, but if You gave us the intelligence, the ability to read scriptures, if You gave us a heart, it is clear that in the Word of God we find Your answers, not ours.
"We know that it is the last hour": John reiterates and insists on this concept. When he wrote this first letter to the churches of Asia, surely he did not imagine that we would have adapted it to our situation, but the One who called him to be ordained Bishop and Apostle, the One who allowed him to rest his head on His heart, knew that by writing this, there would have been, after nearly two thousand years, another Bishop ordained by God called up, as John was, to be Apostle, for these are the words that were addressed to me. We have therefore tailored to this situation what John wrote many centuries before we began to exist.
Apostle John says: "They went out from us these antichrists"; I am part of the ecclesiastical hierarchy and I can say that many have come out from it, I do not name them out of Christian charity, but certainly you can point at them and identify one after another. "They went out from us" John says and I say it myself "But were not of us" in the sense that they have nothing in common with us: they have no love for the Eucharist and for the Mother of the Eucharist, in fact they even censored John Paul II in that simple invocation uttered at the end of a catechesis: "May the Mother of the Eucharist protect us all". They did not accept that a priest could be ordained bishop by God not according to human words but supported by 185 Eucharistic miracles. They did not accept anything, so these people have absolutely nothing in common with us. "If they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us": in this statement must be included not only those who have been part of the church hierarchy, but also the people who came here, who were our friends and were part of this community; but are no longer among us, for if they had been of us, they would have remained. You have remained despite difficulties, paying and suffering because whoever loves and sees a suffering father and mother cannot help but suffer and I must give you credit. In fact I say to Christ: "My Lord, there isn't just Marisa's suffering or mine. Tonight I offer You also the suffering of my children who have made a valuable contribution, therefore, if it is true that from the suffering comes the joy and the Church is reborn from the tears and blood of her children, we ask You that this Rebirth is not delayed".
"You have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth". The anointing means, first of all, to be partakers in Christ's gifts, in Christ's attributes: to be kings, prophets and priests. With the Sacrament of Baptism, perfected with Confirmation, the Christian is the one who defends the truth with the strength coming only from God, who professes his faith in spite of everything and believes, and this is God's word, he is a child of God with whom he has a relationship of deep inner union, not only an outward affection.
"I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth". You have been educated, raised and trained in the Truth and remember that when Christ, in John's Gospel, says: "The truth will set you free" means that you have to show God what is within us, sometimes loudly. We even received Jesus' approval when, after a Eucharistic adoration punctuated by somewhat strong prayers, He said: "I prefer this way because at least you say what you really think". This morning Marisa and I have made known to God, in a strong and hard way, what we thought and I hope He takes it into account, not to get angry, for a father knows his children. Those who are parents, and almost all of you are, know that they must receive from their children moments of joy, but also moments when they would really spank them, but you must not do it.
This is what I had in my mind while reading the word of God. It is now up to you, within yourselves, in silent prayer, to turn this reflection in supplication and say to God: the time has come and you can no longer put off this "enough". Today I told Marisa a truth that I dare rest upon the altar: "It seems absurd that you said yes to God every time He asked for something terrible; I too am tired to be a witness and participant in this suffering. You have always said yes to God and never asked anything for yourself, and for once, prompted by me, by Our Lady and grandmother Iolanda, when you asked God to finally go to enjoy, He still hasn't granted it to you?" This troubles me, makes me sick. Why the plea of a person who has devoted her whole life to God in suffering, pain, humiliation and is just asking to put an end to this agony and reach her Groom, her mother, father, other relatives, Our Lady and all the saints in Heaven, is not satisfied? My God, you cannot ask her to still stay, listen to her. As entreaty and supplication, as support to our prayer, I offer you these terrible thirty-eight years of our life and also offer you the years that may vary in number, but I hope not as severe, of each member of this group of young people here who, in spite of everything, even if has known fragility and weakness, my God, has proven to love you, to choose you and to be with you. Praised be Jesus Christ. Always be praised.