Church of Jesus Christ of the Universe
Saturday 22 October 2022
Readings of the day: Eph 4, 7-16; Ps 121; Lk 13, 1-9
There is a connection, which may not be immediately noticeable, between the Gospel and St. Paul. The connection is the description of what matters in life; the connection is the explanation of what the Church is, who is Church and who is part of the Church.
Some people went to tell Jesus about the people killed by Pilate, and perhaps they wanted Him to say something against Pilate. Instead, He spoke to those who came to Him, giving two examples: “Unless you repent,” – which means unless you are transformed – “you too will all perish” (Eph 13,3-5). He wants to say: if you have not understood why you came into the world, why God placed you here on Earth, why you came to live with a mission and an identity at this time, you will perish in the same way. He means that it does not matter if a tower falls over you or Pilate kills you; or, in my own words: if you get under a car, if you die of a tumour or a tree falls on you. If you are not in a process of transformation while this is happening to you, you will all perish in the same way. These are Jesus’ words.
He also gives the example of the fig tree (Jesus does not seem to get along well with fig trees). In this part of the Gospel, He wants to remove it, but the vinedresser asks him, “Wait another year. Let me try.”
Let me make a comparison with our plea for peace: the Lord is tired, and we have begged Him, “Wait a moment. Let us try to harvest what there is to harvest.” Then the Lord replied, “Good, but if it does not bear fruit, why should it exploit the soil?” I told you the parable of the fig tree because, as you know, in another parable Jesus looked for fruits on a fig tree, but He did not find any; He cursed the tree and it dried up. He went looking for fruits in the wrong month; do not forget that. He did not go in July or August; He went in March to look for fruits and that poor fig tree did not have any.
Throughout the Letter to the Ephesians, as in all his letters, St. Paul expresses himself like a man who, after falling from his horse, understands what life is, what the Church is: the Mystical Body of Christ. I imagine, and I ask you to do so too, that when St. Paul thought of the Body of Christ, the Church, He saw the crucified Jesus before him. In those days, it was probably easier to bring this image to mind; yet, he had Him before his eyes. That is the Church, the Body. And he says it clearly in today’s letter: “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Eph 4,16).
The whole Church, the whole body. He describes what the Church should be. How should she be? As St. Paul says: a group of people that help one another to reach maturity in Christ, to know Christ. Each one gets there according to the grace of Christ’s gift, because Christ has given each one a gift: one will be an apostle, one a prophet, one a shepherd. So, what should the Church do? Give titles? No. Promote with medals? No! It must help every person to find his or her own identity in Christ, according to the maturity in Christ.
If you read it carefully, you notice that each one of us, whether shepherd, priest or something else thanks to another grace, has received the gift to edify the others, not just to use it for himself. We have been made teachers, shepherds, ministerial priests for the others so that they may reach full maturity in Christ. In turn, they are helped by other parts of the body who have to help the shepherds, the teachers, the priests to get to the full maturity in Christ. This is life, this is Church; it is a body that walks towards the New Creation.
St. Paul uses the phrase “Until the maturity of the perfect man”. We heard it yesterday and the day before yesterday. According to him, a man is perfect when he understands the greatness, the depth, the breadth of his calling. What is the calling? The calling is to rediscover the fact that we are children of God. When one reaches this, according to St. Paul, one is perfect. A person is not perfect when he can speak well, when he is a minister, when he prays well, when he is sick or healthy, when he has two legs or only one: he is perfect when he knows Christ, when he has the gift of Christ’s calling.
If you look closely, it is natural in such a Church not to look at the first and the last but at all the different services. We find it difficult to see this service, which is not an election: first, second, third. No! There are different services but all in the same path. St. Paul describes it clearly; it is not difficult to see it. What makes the difference? I know I repeat myself, but there is only this. The difference lies in the desire of each of us to be like this, because, as he says, it is Christ who gives the gift of grace; it is Christ who awakens your identity; it is Christ who leads you to fullness. It is always a gift with which all brothers and sisters can participate in this path with Christ, but it is always a gift.
It is a gift we cannot buy; we can only welcome it. It is a gift we cannot conquer; we can only accept it. No one can wish to be in another place than that intended by Him. Someone may study all theology and know it by heart, take best marks and honours in all exams, but if it is not meant for him to become a ministerial priest, he will not be a priest of Christ because it is not good for him. Let me give you an example.
What do we choose in life? I think that everyone has to understand this first: we have come into the world to know Christ. Then, we offer our whole life to Christ. We know that we cannot do it without Mary, and thus we do it through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. What should we do next? We must allow life, through the guidance of Christ and His instruments, to transform us through the things that happen to us and the situations we experience every day.
Yet, the question is whether we really put Christ in the first place; if we do not, we cannot say in the situations we face: “It is God who wanted these situations”. We are able to say so – and I will leave it to you – when we proclaim this before God: “For me life is to know Christ”. When we have sincerely said this to God, everything contributes to the good for us who love God. “There is neither slave nor free“ (Gal 3,28). “You have been set free from sin” (Rom 6), says St. Paul, and St. John the Apostle also says: “But if we walk in the light … we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin“ (1Jn 1,5-7). There is no more sin, because, “He who is in Christ is a new creature”.
I want to point out that even if we make mistakes, they are not sins; it means that we do not make the mistakes we know. If it happens that we make mistakes, these are not sins that lead us to death, but they may lead us to grow in the knowledge of Christ, and they may awaken in us the wish to be closer to Him. Sin that crushes us does no longer exist.
Remember that this decision cannot be reached through much reflection, meditation, analyses, control. When we stand before God, we can no longer escape. Do we want Christ, or do we not want Him? Is He the centre of our life or not? Do we want Him only partially? Do we want Him only to help us, to accompany us or to make our live holy?
I am not speaking about a holy life but about being part of the Body of Christ, crucified with Him, because we want to be where He is. If He is now on the Cross, we want to be on the cross with Him, but He rose again. We know where we come from. We have chosen Christ because we know that we will be where He is. Not at the right hand of the Father but perhaps somewhere near to Him. We will not be in the Trinity but perhaps nearby; everything is fine with us, as long as we are where Christ is.
Therefore, it is about choosing Him with all our strength. The Kingdom of Heaven is violent. Violent towards whom? Towards ourselves, towards our ego, towards the spirit of the world that we all have in our minds. That is where we have to use violence against ourselves. “The kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, the violent have been raiding it” (Mt 11,12), says the Lord when He speaks of the Kingdom of Heaven, because they are able to die to themselves. When we think of violence, we think of the strong will to fast long, pray long. There is a time when these things are certainly necessary. Our Lady of Medjugorje asked for fasts so that we may learn to keep our soul under control. However, I hope that I am speaking to people who have learned that. So, it is not about using violence on the body but violence on our ideas, thoughts, the way of seeing things. I am talking about this type of violence. Furthermore, the only thing we are asked is to be faithful and docile to God and let Him work.
I want to return to the words Jesus said to us after we had prayed for peace. In addition to faithfulness and docility, we are asked to set off. Set off without fear! Today, I will say with St. John Paul II: “Do not be afraid!” Do not be afraid of making mistakes, of not doing things well; do not be afraid of the world; do not be afraid of anyone, not even of the devil. Go! Go with Christ and do what He inspires you to do! Set off! There is a need for it. Do concrete things for God; do not be afraid!
We are involved in a program called “Rewriting History“. How can we be afraid? Otherwise, we do not rewrite anything. No word in the titles is taken by chance: “Towards the New Creation“, “Rewriting History“, “Beyond the Great Barrier“, “The Decisive Choice of Humanity“. I am quoting our books, but they contain already everything in the title; they express a decision to set off. The Church exists when we help each other, as He says, everyone with all the strength and all the ability they have; we must encourage each other until we are one Body in Christ. It all depends on what we decide and what we want. Do not forget that this is not an empty phrase: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Phil 4,13).
 See Lk 13, 1-5
 See Lk 13, 6-9
 See Eph 4:13 paraphrased
 See Eph 4:1-6
 See Eph 3:14-21
 See Jn 17:3
 See 2 Cor 5:17 paraphrased
 See reflections by Mauro of 11 and 15 October 2022 published on our website
 Publisher Luci dell‘Esodo