Monthly Archives: March 2016

2nd Sunday of Easter – Year C

It’s hard to believe

even for those who have seen

 

Introduction

 

“Fortunate are you to see what you see!”—Jesus said one day (Lk 10:23). The disciples who accompanied the Master during his public life are called by Luke witnesses of the events that have taken place among us (Lk 1:1-2). It is undeniable; they are blessed because they have seen. Among them, there is also Thomas.

 

Yet this experience was just the first stage of a demanding journey, one that had to bring them to faith.

 

Many who like them have seen have not come to believe. It’s enough to think of the “woes” pronounced by Jesus against the cities of the lake that witnessed the signs he performed and they did not convert (Lk 10:13-15). Seeing is the cause of bliss, but it is not enough.

 

After Easter, the Lord—who can no longer be seen by the material eyes—proclaims another beatitude: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” They are blessed if, by listening, they come to the same goal, the faith. To them Peter turns moving words: “You have not yet seen him and yet you love him; even without seeing him, you believe in him and experience a heavenly joy beyond all words” (1 Pet 1:8).

 

It is the joy assured to those who trust the Word, not that of people, but that of Christ, contained in the scriptures and given to the church by the apostles—as John reminds us in the conclusion of his Gospel.

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:
“Blessed are we, though not having seen, believe.”

 

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Easter Vigil – Year C

Do not look for the living

among the dead

Introduction

 

We Christians are convinced of being custodians of an excellent project, man and society. We are proud when they recognize that the moral proposition that we preach is noble and elevated.

 

We are pleased to be referred to as the messengers of universal brotherhood, justice and peace.

 

We have instead a certain reservation to present ourselves as witnesses of the resurrection, as bearers of the light that illuminates the tomb.

 

Sometimes one gets the impression that, in the same night of the Passover, during the homily, the preachers are a bit embarrassed to show the joy of Christ’s victory over death on their faces. Often, instead of talking about the Risen One, they delve on current topics that captivate more the attention of the assembly. They touch on serious, important social issues that need to be illuminated by the light of the gospel. However, on Easter Vigil, the community is convened to hear another announcement. It is gathered to celebrate and sing to the Lord of life for the unheard prodigy he has made in raising his Servant Jesus.

 

Tertullian, a Christian rhetorician of the first centuries, characterized thus the faith and life of the communities of his time: “The Christian hope is the resurrection of the dead; all that we are, we are so to the extent we believe in the resurrection.”

 

What distinguishes Christians from other people is not their heroic morality. Noble gestures of love are also done by non-believers who, without realizing it, are moved by the Spirit of Christ.

 

The world expects from Christians a moral life coherent with the gospel. However it first seeks the answer to the riddle of death and the testimony that Christ is risen and has transformed life on this earth in gestation and death into birth.

 

The urgency of a new life can be understood only by one who is no longer afraid of death because, with the eyes of faith, “he saw” the Risen One and cultivates in his heart the expectation that soon “the day breaks, and the morning star shines” (2 P 1:19).

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:
“Every moment of our life is illuminated by the light of the Risen.”

 

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Easter Sunday – Year C

Witness is one who “saw” the Lord

 

Introduction

 

The words with which John begins his letter are moving: “What we have heard and have seen with our own eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, I mean the Word who is Life… we are telling you of it” (1 Jn 1:1-3). His is an enviable experience, but unrepeatable. However, to become “witnesses” of Christ, it is not necessary to have walked with Jesus of Nazareth on the roads of Palestine.

 

Paul—who also did not know Jesus personally—is constituted a witness of the things he saw (Acts 26:16) and receives this task from the Lord: “As you have born witness to me here in Jerusalem, so must you do in Rome” (Acts 23:11).

 

To be a witness, it’s enough to have seen the Lord really alive, beyond death.

 

Witnessing is not to give good example. This is certainly useful, but the testimony is something else. This can only be given by one who passed from death to life; one who can confirm that his existence is changed and acquired meaning when it was illuminated by the light of Easter; one who has made the experience that faith in Christ gives meaning to the joys and sorrows and illuminates the joyful and sad moments.

 

Let’s ask ourselves: is Christ’s resurrection a constant point of reference in all the projects we do, when we buy, sell, dialogue, divide an inheritance, choose to have another child… or do we believe that the reality of this world has nothing to do with Easter? Anyone who has seen the Lord will do nothing more without him.

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:
“If our heart open itself to the understanding of the Scriptures, we will see the Lord.”

 

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Holy Thursday – Year C

Jesus: broken bread, offered as nourishment

 

Introduction

 

Among the many names by which the Eucharist was called, the one that best expresses the meaning and richness of the sacrament is the breaking of the bread.

 

The disciples of Emmaus recognized the Lord “in the breaking of the bread” (Lk 24:35); the community of Jerusalem diligently participates in the catechesis of the apostles and to “the breaking of bread”, at Troas they met “on the first day of the week to break bread” (Acts 20:7).

 

Why were the early Christians so fond of this expression? What memories, what emotions it aroused in them?

 

The meal of the pious Israelites always started with a blessing on the bread. The head of the family took it in his hands, broke it and offered it to the diners.

 

It could not be eaten before it is being broken and shared with everyone present.

 

Since childhood Jesus noted Joseph devoutly fulfill this sacred rite every day, and he himself, as an adult, repeated it several times: in Nazareth, when his father passed away, and, during his public life, wherever he was invited at table.

 

One evening, in Jerusalem, he gave it a new meaning.

 

At the Last Supper he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to his disciples saying: “This is me. Take, eat!”; arcane, enigmatic words that the disciples understood only after Easter.

 

At the end of his “day” the Master had summed up in that gesture his entire history, his whole life given.

 

He had not offered anything but himself. He had given his person as food. Every bit of his existence had been given to satisfy people’s hunger: hunger for God and his word, hunger for meaning of life, happiness and love.

 

Moving in front of the “sheep without a shepherd” he sat down to teach many things: he had broken the bread of the Word (Mk 6:33-34). To those who were hungry for forgiveness he had offered the signs of God’s tenderness.

 

In Jericho, no one imagined that Zacchaeus was hungry. No one showed himself sensitive to his pleading for understanding and hospitality. No one but Jesus, saw, hidden among the leaves of a sycamore tree, the one who was ashamed to be seen. He entered his house and satiated him with love and joy.

 

At the Eucharistic table, during any celebration, Jesus presents—in the signs of bread—all his life and asks to be eaten.

 

In the world people “eat.” They struggle to overpower and enslave; they “devour” themselves to hoard the goods and to dominate. The one who proves himself the strongest in this competition for food, is successful.

 

Jesus revolutionized this pre-human way of relating.

 

Instead of “eating” the others, of fighting for the conquest of the kingdoms of this world—as the evil one had suggested to him—he had himself eaten.

 

It is from this gift of himself as food that the new humanity began.

 

The gesture of putting on a table, in front of a hungry person, a loaf of bread and a cup of wine is a clear invitation not to look at or to contemplate, but to sit down, to take, to eat and to drink.

 

On the altar, the Eucharistic bread is a proposal of life: eating it means to adhere to Jesus, to accept to become with him bread and to offer oneself as food to anyone who is hungry.

 

“We cannot live without the Lord’s supper.” “Yes, I went to the assembly and celebrated the Lord’s supper with my brothers and sisters, because I am a Christian.” Uttered by the martyrs of Abitinae, in proconsular Africa, these words reveal the passion with which, from the earliest centuries, Christians have participated in the breaking of bread every Sunday. It was for them an indispensable requirement. They understood that that was the hallmark of the disciples of the Lord Jesus.

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:
“We can not live without the Lord’s Supper.”

 

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