Homily of the Forth Sunday per Annum
Fr. Francesco Pesce
It is not always easy to believe in the God of Jesus Christ. Sometimes it is easier to believe in a God that “distributes miracles”, a God whose love we need to deserve rather than a God that accepts us for whom we are.
Jesus, on the contrary, invites us to look at things more deeply and to see better. Our God is one that walks with us, that gives His help to a foreign widow in Zarephat, and that heals lepers. A God that walks with us daily and that does not look at our merits or memberships, but at our needs and, most importantly, a God that accepts and loves us the way we are.
Believing in a God that first looks at our merits or memberships results in representing a Church that defends itself, that excludes those without or with just a few merits to show off; a Church that becomes an elitarian and closed institution that does not receive nor attracts anybody but a few “elected”. A Church that is not able to influence everyday life, which passes just to the ring road of our lives, stopping in TV programmes or in the lobbies as appropriate.
On the contrary, believing in the God of Jesus Christ, who first of all look at our weaknesses and needs, translates into building “a Church which goes forth”, where pastors have the smell of the sheep (not only of the incense), and where no one feels excluded or left behind.
Around Jesus there have always been and yet there are groups of fanatical and violent people and also extremists that use religion and the Church for their own interests. Pope Francis knows this very well and recently warned against the fact that there are people that do not serve the Church but use the Church for their own interests.
This passage of the Gospel – “But he passed through the midst of them and went away” – represents an extraordinary warning to all of us and for the whole Church. Jesus passes over, He leaves. He leaves when faith joins forces with power; He leaves when clericalism prevails over the people of God and the Gospel. He leaves when the Gospel is reduced to the moral law and it is not its foundation, or when you defend abstract principles and concrete privileges instead of understanding and accompanying ordinary situations.
The Lord goes towards and remains where faith is simple and sincere; where hope is not rhetoric, but confident expectation of a promise that will be fulfilled; and where the charity is sensitive to the cry of the poor and reaches out to every brother, without judgment, pre-condition, or “preference of people.”