Week of the Blessed Virgin of San Luca
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Cathedral, 13 May 2007
1. "Let not your hearts be troubled and be not afraid." My beloved sick and elderly brothers and sisters, all beloved faithful, this first word given by Jesus to his disciples about His Passion, resounds today with particular force.
The motives of fear and anxiety in our hearts can be many, both outside and within us. I think above all of he who is ill, of he who is alone, of he whose life is lived in a melancholy manner. To each and all Jesus says, "Let not your hearts be troubled and be not afraid."
Why has the Lord thus invited us? "You have heard what I have said to you: I am going, and I shall return to you." Immediately Jesus was referring to the days (close by now) of his Paschal Mystery, of His death and Resurrection, which had coincided with His definitive, visible departing from this earth. For this reason, He said, "I am going." In fact, because of this the apostles were troubled in their hearts and were afraid. They were now unable to think about their present and future lives without the presence of Jesus. They could not live without His company; and He cannot live in their company as one absent. Without Jesus, their lives would have made no sense.
But Jesus does not only say, "I am going away," but He adds, "I will return to you." That is to say, "I will be present with you, in your midst, forever; I will never leave you alone; therefore, why are your hearts troubled, and why are you afraid? There I am with you." My beloved faithful, what great words these are, what a consoling revelation this is! After His Resurrection, Jesus is always present with us; he will never abandon us.
Better still, Jesus says something even more incredible. Not only is Jesus present with us, but the Father will also be present. Let us listen: "Let us go with him and make our home close to him." Beloved, these words speak of a most great work which should happen in the life of a Christian. The Father and Jesus take up residence close to us. It is not a fleeting presence; they remain with us and make a home near to us.
The "presence of God" is a theme which runs through Sacred Scripture. That God would take up residence in the midst of His people was a great desire of the people of Israel. That God would not increase His presence in the midst of His people was its greatest fear. When King Solomon finished building the Temple, which ought to be the presence of God, he exclaimed, "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!" (1 Kings 8:27)
But the Lord God had made an extraordinary promise through His prophets. "My presence will be close to you" (Ezek. 37:26), and still, "I come to abide in your midst" (Zac. 2:14). Now this promise is fulfilled in a most unthinkable way. It is precisely the believer, the disciple of Jesus, who becomes the presence of God. Each disciple of Jesus is the holy and inviolable place in which He who the highest heaven cannot contain comes to take residence. "We will take up residence close to Him."
Beloved sick and elderly brothers and sisters, your inability to come to Church, to participate in sacred functions, can be understood. "Let not your hearts be troubled and be not afraid." The Lord is equally near to you; He takes residence close to you. And when you pray in your homes, you do not go as one absent.
2. We are celebrating today this divine Eucharist in a particular union with the Mother of God, in front of her venerable Image. This is a moment of particular grace.
This very day, ninety years ago at Fatima, the Mother of God appeared to three children to reveal her message of warning and consolation to all the world and to the whole Church. She called for prayer and penance.
This message resounds even today with particular urgency. Your prayers and the offering of your suffering ascend as an appreciated offering to the Father, that "He may have mercy on us and bless us, may make His face to shine upon us, that upon earth ‘His’ way may be known, among all people ‘His’ salvation."
La traduzione, non rivista dal Card. Caffarra, è di Ryan Hilderbrand.