Pontifical Council for the Pastoral
Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

 Homily

  

 H. Em. Cardinal Mauro PIACENZA

 Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy

 

(Unofficial translation)      

 

Your Excellencies,

dear Brother Priests,

dearest participants,

 

It is a joy for me to preside over this Eucharist, at the beginning of your third working day, on the occasion of the “Third World Congress on the Pastoral Care of International Students”.

In a few hours “you will see Peter” at the Audience with the Holy Father, anticipated in the programme of the Meeting. I therefore wish that, from the time of this Eucharistic Celebration, the spiritual atmosphere accompanying this whole morning would be completely oriented towards that ever-new meeting with him whom Providence has chosen to be the visible point of unity of the whole Church on earth. “Seeing Peter” is always a profound experience of faith that edifies the Spirit and, with unique efficacy, takes us back to the method God used in revealing Himself. To do so, He decided to use a concrete human nature.

In this profoundly petrine context, the Marian atmosphere of advent is well situated. We are on the first week of the Advent Season and the divine liturgy already gives us a glimpse of the beauty, allows us to feel the emotion, makes us smell the scent of the Lord who comes. He invites is to make space for Him. He, who is a migrant and an itinerant by definition, is not a foreigner in any place, and most of all He is not a stranger to our heart, if we will know how to give Him proper welcome.

In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah, using forceful images, which however can immediately be perceived by his interlocutors, describes the radical change brought about by the “Lord’s Day”, by His advent. “The lowly will ever find joy […] and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For the tyrant will be no more and the arrogant will have gone; All who are alert to do evil will be cut off […]. Now Jacob shall have nothing to be ashamed of, nor shall his face grow pale” (Is 29:19-22). Were we to identify a category that unifies the text of the prophet, we would be able to find it in the concept of justice. The advent of the Lord’s Day is described by plastic images that are familiar to the people of Israel. Everything tends to describe a reality in which it is possible to experience some sort of justice, at least in the prophetic sense. The coming of the Lord, in that sense, is not confined to a spiritual or a subjective experience, but, right from the pages of the Old Testament, it is indicated as full of social and historical consequences, also for civilization. Therefore it is never possible to relegate such a coming to the mere private sphere of a faith lived individualistically, but it is necessary to acknowledge His Presence, in every epoch, also through the newness of life of those who belong to Him and, “where it is possible”, the newness of social structures

I said “where it is possible” because there is a historical, theological and spiritual primacy of personal conversion, of one’s own heart, with respect to the conversion of social structures. The latter are simply impossible to convert if we do not start from the conversion of the heart.

From the historical point of view, the blossoming of social structures, which have been set up in consonance with the Gospel and are capable of showing that justice that always leads back to the coming of the Lord and of his Kingdom, has always depended upon the existence and the maturation of a Christian culture. It is unthinkable, and it runs the risk of becoming an ideological pretext, that external social structures would exist with an evangelical form, without taking into consideration the culture in which these “just” experiences are born.

To have just social structures, it is necessary to live in a culture that recognizes justice and, above all, recognizes the Just One, the Lord of time and history. And so that there may be a culture in which Christ is recognized as Lord, a culture of Advent that awaits Him who is known as the Beloved, it is necessary that everyone opens himself up to a conversion that is always renewed.

For this reason, the proclamation itself of the Prophet Isaiah opens by speaking of Lebanon, which will be changed into an orchard – a historical and macro-social aspect – and closes with this affirmation: “Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding” – a personal and spiritual aspect. There is no contradiction between the first and the second, but, on the contrary, the condition for Lebanon to change into an orchard is for those who err to acquire understanding. 

The condition for social structures to change is not in any way possible to determine by the imposition of an external authority, even though it may be that which has been democratically legitimized by the States. It is always the free and conscious response to the call for conversion that the Lord addresses to everyone.

With Christ, in fact, there is always a meeting; the event of a unique personal meeting, in which each one’s freedom is called to pronounce its own “yes” to the invitation, filled with mercy, that it receives. 

The experience of one’s own limits, of one’s own sin and “blindness”, is surely a condition that encourages such a meeting. The extraordinary prayer of the two blind men of the Gospel pericope, that we have heard, should resound daily in our hearts and on our lips: “Son of David, have pity on us” (Mt 9:27).

Whoever truthfully recites this prayer, whoever lives in the awareness that the humble request for mercy is the leading way towards a personal conversion and the coming of the Kingdom of God in his/her own heart, and therefore in the world, becomes the first witness of that experience of justice which Isaiah describes.

Let us pray without ever getting tired: “Son of David, have pity on us!”.

Let us repeat it for the sins committed against Him, the Lord of Life; for those committed against the Church, Mother and Teacher, historical setting of the perennial coming of the Lord and the communion of sons and daughters in the Son. Let us repeat: “Son of David, have pity on us!” for all the sins committed against our brothers, for the lack of welcome and solicitude, for the deficiencies and omissions in proclaiming the truth to them, for not having recognized the countenance of Christ in their faces.

Finally let us repeat: “Son of David, have pity on us!” for all the sins we committed against our very person: for all the times that we deny ourselves, by saying “no” to God, and thus self-condemn ourselves to sadness and unhappiness.

The Lord Jesus took seriously the invocation of the two blind men in the Gospel, just as he takes seriously the invocation of each on of us: “Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I can do this?’” (Mt 9:28). The requirement of faith, the “do you believe?” is the indispensable condition so that the Lord may act. The is no work of grace that does not ask for the cooperation of our freedom! A freedom that is signified simply by that “Yes, Lord” that we are called to pronounce.

The greatest conversion, the greatest work (even social) that we can accomplish is to say with all the truth that we can: “Yes, Lord!”

Simply with a “yes”, God can change history!

Simply with your “yes”, He can change history. He did it during the first Alliance, with the “yes” of Abraham, Moses and the prophets; He did it during the new and definitive Alliance, with Mary’s “yes”, which allowed God to enter history and is, therefore, the unsurpassed model of every “yes”.  

In Mary’s “yes”, the “yes” of the Apostles resounds prophetically, especially the “yes” of Peter, whom you will meet in a short while; in it resounds the “yes” of all witnesses, all martyrs, the “yes” of the holy mothers and virgins, the “yes” of the simple and the learned, the “yes” of all men and women who, with realistic humility, invoke the pity of the Lord and, simply and freely, offer Him their own lives.  

Let us pray to the Lord, so that also our eyes may be opened, so that also the eyes of our faith, opened wide by grace, may recognize Him present, alive, working in us and, therefore, in the world.  .

Let us ask, through the powerful intercession of the blessed Virgin Mary, Woman in waiting and Model of faith, that each one of us may become that realization and anticipation of the Kingdom, which makes justice visible to all men and women, even in our day, and therefore makes faith credible.