22nd February, the Church is celebrating the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. The Chair marks the primatial role of Peter in the Apostolic College when Jesus assigned him the task of “feeding” his flock. Today, on this Chair sits Pope Francis and it is shining with a special light, allowing us to catch sight of the holy Spirit at work in the Church.
Evangelii Gaudium, Laudato Si’ e Amoris Laetitia. Joy, Praise, Delight. The very names of the documents of the Pope’s teaching enable us to understand clearly the faith in God and trust in men which live in Francis’s priestly heart. Biblical joy erupts powerfully: “I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” A joy which came into the world and is not reserved only for an exclusive club.
Those who speak always and only of “doctrine” are sad Christians and cannot be good witnesses of the Gospel which, in regard to witnesses, speaks thus of John:” the disciple beloved of Jesus”. The disciples must be taught first and foremost with love, by loving them, welcoming them just as they are, walking along a stretch of road with them, “infecting them” with a coherent testimony of Christian life.
If we don’t: “stop seeking those personal or communal niches which enable us to maintain a distance from the issue of human drama”(AL) we will be unable to understand the “drama” of the Kerygma; the Kerygma isn’t doctrine but drama. Announcing the Gospel without personal involvement is not only a useless illusion, it is also counterproductive. Without the odour of his sheep, the Shepherd is no longer a shepherd and becomes a wolf, smelling only of incense and ink and no longer has the shepherd’s dirty garments but robes of Constantinian memory and so the sheep flee from Him.
«No one has seen God at any time but the one and only Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared him». Unless he is the God who makes himself known through the Word Incarnate of the Son of Man, this God is not the Christian God but a mere concept or even an ideological instrument who says nothing to our hearts. God’s people need Shepherds who warm their hearts not Instructions for Use. After all, warm hearts are like clay, more malleable and gradually masterpieces emerge; hearts full of instructions for use are beautiful on the outside but do not beat within and cannot be shaped in any way whatsoever.
At times not only do we not want to make the effort to get to know the God of Jesus Christ, but often not even Man; man is a mixture of mud and Spirit. The mud is an important thing; it is the sweat we see every day in our streets; it is the blood that so many families spill to reach the end of the month with dignity; it is the “marvellous complexity” of life. The Spirit needs this mud, the Church needs it, we all need it; in order never to forget that All is Grace.
“But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God”. In a certain sense, we are not born Sons of God but become them; we become them by welcoming Jesus and imitating his life of love, which are the beatitudes. We also gradually become a family; and when we are unable to for many reasons, the people remain, forever, the image and likeness of God.
Often we waste too much energy fighting evil; “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it”. To receive the love of God and then manifest it immediately to those we meet, simply, with joy and unconditionally, like a secret of the heart. To love unconditionally. Many times in the countryside, we have seen the light expanding gradually at dawn and the darkness fleeing from the sunlight. It is only light which overcomes the darkness, because it overpowers it, the law can sanction it but no more than that.
The Magisterium of Pope Francis is a “perilous” light; it is enough to go to a parish and talk to the people to experience how people feel respected, loved and encouraged by His words and His example. We can almost feel the fatherhood and motherhood of the Church physically.
A testimony, that of Pope Francis, of life, fidelity to the Gospel and to the Tradition of the Church (not to the precepts of men). A faith which is coherent with honesty, sobriety, justice and charity and which knows how to transmit the joy of meeting the Resurrected Christ to the new generations.
The Spirit summons us to an original and ever new identity to which we must abandon ourselves with faith. The Spirit tells us that Jesus Christ isn’t the guardian of the fort, he’s not a point of reference of the past, he is not a footrest for every egotism, even ecclesial, but a guarantee for the future.
We know very well that there is no future without memory of the past. Our memory, however, cannot exist of professions of faith proclaimed with a sword in hand, with the tendency to exclude the weakest. The unity of the Church cannot be maintained by a criterion of egotism and the desire to raise barriers, by widening the “the walls of Jericho” even more.
The language of Christianity is a universal language; it is a language of unity but not uniformity; The Spirit teaches us to speak this universal language every day of our lives.