HOMILY IN THE HOLY MASS OF SEPTEMBER 13 2008 FOR THE REFRESHER SEMINAR OF THE CONGREGATION FOR THE EVANGELIZATION OF PEOPLES FOR THE BISHOPS OF DEPENDENT TERRITORIES WITH LESS THAN THREE YEARS’ ORDINATION
Dear Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples Cardinal Ivan Dias
Dear Confreres Bishops, Priests, Brothers and Sisters,
During the days of your seminar, may you be first and foremost the docile listeners of the Word of God so as to become practising faithful of the Word following the plea of Jesus proclaimed in the passage we just read. This docility of the heart in listening to the Lord is bestowed by the Holy Spirit. It is a gift that we ought to ask with perseverance and zeal in our prayers.
Receiving the Word with docility means receiving the Lord Jesus. He is the living Word. It’s important to let ourselves be pervaded and enlightened by Him. The prologue of the Gospel of John states that Jesus is “the true light, which enlightens everyone” (Jn 1:9). This is why our beloved Pope Benedict XVI justly says that Jesus is the Logos, he is Reason that gives meaning to all Creation, He enlightens and explains the ultimate and full meaning of the Creation, of ourselves, and of our history. God is the Logos, the fundamental Reason for the Creation. Without this Reason, everything would be void of meaning and foundation. It is indeed beautiful that this Reason, which gives meaning to everything, this ultimate Truth that founds all things, is revealed to us as love. The origin of everything and the explanation of everything is love. The Logos, described in St. John’s Prologue, is manifested as an unconditional love, that was wrapped in the flesh of man to be love. Thus, the prologue states: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory […]. And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (Jn 1:14 and 16). In the First Letter, John states: “God is love. Herein was the love of God manifested in us, that God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 Jn.4:8-11). Thus, the Truth, the Word: God is love, and we were loved by Him from the onset. We have been created by Him through His act of love, he has created us to his image and likeness and were redeemed by Him through an act of supreme love: the Father has loved the world to the point of bestowing upon us his Son, who in turn has loved us to the point of dying on the cross and resurrect for our salvation. Thus, we ought to love one another, as proclaimed in the Word of the Gospel we just read. Jesus continues: “Every one that cometh unto me, and heareth my words, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who digged and went deep, and laid a foundation upon the rock: and when a flood rose, the stream break against that house, and could not shake it: because it had been well builded” (Lk 6:47-48).
Putting into practice the Word of Christ, means following the path leading to our fulfilment. Jesus is the Logos of our selves. Developing our selves according to this Logos means conducting our selves to its true perfection that is, the development of its entire ontological content. This means that loving God with all of our hearts and loving the brothers as Jesus has loved us, is the law of our being. Logos is love, thus love is the right path.
In our daily lives on earth, the Eucharist is the most significant and effective celebration of this love that is the Logos, the Truth, the Word of God. In the Eucharist we will attain the deepest enwrapping core of love, that is God. The Lord summons us to his Supper since He loves us. In the Eucharistic Supper, he fills us with his love. Jesus is true content of this love. He is the gift that God bestows upon us in his Supper: Jesus Christ, died and resurrected for our salvation, is made present in the food and drink, so we may enter in a true sacramental union with Him. We ought to recall the words pronounced by Jesus in the Book of Revelation: “See, I am waiting at the door and giving the sign; if my voice comes to any man’s ears and he makes the door open, I will come in to him, and will take food with him and he with me” (Rev. 3:20). In the Eucharist, this supper will take place. Communion will be fulfilled. We will be involved in the mystery of His love. We will experience a profound happiness and peace that only He can give us. Jesus said: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing (Jn 15: 4-5). How can we express this mystery of the Communion that is truly fulfilled in the Eucharist? No human expression has the tools to say it in all its fullness.
The content of the Eucharistic communion is however extremely concrete and committing. In fact, it is the memorial of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. By entering in communion with this mystery, our life will need to conform to its content. First of all, the Eucharist reminds us of the fruit of the love by which God the Father has loved us: “For God so loved the world that his gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn.3:16). Who would be ready to give his own son? God gave him to us because he loves us and doesn’t want to lose us. The Gospel reiterates once and once again, that “he gave his only begotten Son”, in a free act of unconditional love of God the Father. But the same love is manifested also in the Son, who gives his life on the cross for us. Who would have given his life? Jesus gave us his live for love, to save us. This means that the Eucharistic communion indicates the willingness to be ready to give our life to God and to our brothers.
The Eucharist is the Supper of God on earth. There He distributes his Bread to his sons. Just like He distributes his Bread to us, in a similar way we are called to distribute our bread to our brothers, first and foremost to the poor, to the hungry, and to the outcast. This brings us back to the multiplication of the loaves, in the Gospel, when Jesus had pity on the tired and the hungry people and nourished them with the multiplication of the loaves, yet he warned his disciples: “Give ye them to eat” (Mk 14:16). Once again this is the law of love, a concrete and effective love.
Let us now celebrate the Eucharist, in memory of these words of Jesus. He is the Word, the Logos, that is love, and that loved us until the very end. We were created to the image and likeness of this Logos, which is love. Thus the law, the path that will lead us to the true development of our being, will be the path of love, that culminates every time we celebrate the Eucharist. Thus we shall build our house on the rock. Amen.
Cardinal Cláudio Hummes
Archbishop Emeritus of São Paulo
Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy
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