ConAltriOcchi blog – 以不同的眼光看世界-博客

"C'è un solo modo di vedere le cose finché qualcuno non ci mostra come guardare con altri occhi" – "There is only one way to see things, until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes" (Picasso) – "人观察事物的方式只有一种,除非有人让我们学会怎样以不同的眼光看世界" (毕加索)


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Migrants: the “lepers” of today

 

The Book of Leviticus tells us that not only were lepers banned from their villages, they also had to shout out «Unclean, unclean!» as they approached, to warn others of their presence. This mark of infamy was something that affected them deeply, that scarred their very conscience, to the point of becoming a sort of second nature, something they themselves accepted. We can project this contrast between the village and the leper through the centuries to our own day and age. Today, we are the village, our communities, the old Western countries, our economic system gone mad, even our Church, at times, when it becomes clericalised and unable to reach out, like Pope Francis would like it to do.

But our Western society, despite claiming to be inspired by the great principles of equality and fraternity, which are dear to the tradition of the Enlightenment, which was born and developed in Europe, the heartland of Christianity, seems to be living a huge lie. Apparently, it is willing to integrate outcasts (migrants, illegal immigrants, the homeless, convicts …) into the European and western village, but effectively it is unable to do so. And why is this? Because it should be looking into itself and questioning itself, its actions, what it is becoming and exporting to other regions of the world, but it doesn’t have the guts, or better, we don’t have the guts, to do so.

Migrants are the lepers of the twenty-first century, of the here and now. Society has no greater places of exclusion than the so-called “reception” camps, which, at times, are nothing less than modern-day “lagers”, places where we can confine and conceal our hypocrisy and our selfishness.

Extending the boundaries of our village to make room for the outcasts, updating its rules, becoming a true global village – this is the path that the Pope, today, has shown us once again, with his highly symbolic, yet also very concrete, visit. Because the Pope has said that he wants to give voice to those with no say in society, who are prisoners of an uncertain, even horrible, future … Extending the borders, knocking down the walls, globalising solidarity: these are the last scraps of dignity we can hang on to.

The world and the christless or, worse, listless and indifferent, West, prey to individualistic spiritualist fads, without a shred of charitable empathy, incapable of sharing and donating, must know that Jesus himself was cast out, rejected, forsaken. The Messiah himself, he who was awaited by the prophets (and not by the powerful, or those who just wanted vengeance), like a discarded stone. The child Jesus and the Holy Family of Nazareth lived like migrants, even refugees we might say, for many years before being able to return to their homeland.

Today Pope Francis has reminded us once again, with ever greater strength, that Jesus came to awaken the conscience of the outcasts of today, urging them to stop considering themselves as legitimately cast out, because God is on their side and they must never lose hope. Woe, instead, unto the inhabitants of the village, if they shut themselves inside their walls: woe to the Scribes and Pharisees of today.

Jesus has – once and for all – sanctioned the collapse of the rock on which the enclosed village is built, adorned with its modern evanescent and empty temples: “Not a stone will be left here standing”, unless it becomes a global, caring and open village, open to everybody in the name of our common humanity. We ask the Lord to give us the humility and courage to flatten the walls of the camp, open its gates and extend its boundaries, otherwise we ourselves, and our children before us, will be overcome and stifled by the unassailable fortresses we have raised.


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Exemplary servants of the gospel

Pope Francis pilgrim on the road of Father Mazzolari e Father Milani

In Bozzolo, Pope Francis was welcomed by the Bishop of Cremona, Monsignor Antonio Napolioni, who immediately announced that the process to beatify Don Primo Mazzolari will start on 18th September next.  The Pope then went to the Parish of Saint Peter’s to pray on the tomb of Don Primo Mazzolari where he made a truly memorable address speaking, among other things, of the  “magisterium of the parish priests”.

In Barbiana he was welcomed by Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, Archbishop of Florence and where he also wished to pray at the tomb of Don Lorenzo Milani on the fiftieth anniversary of his death.  In church he met the Prior of Barbiana’s students and then gave a commemorative address in the forecourt of Don Lorenzo’s vicarage which will be very difficult to forget. His educative passion represented faithfulness to the Gospel and to all those who were entrusted to his care, said the Pope.  He then added: “today, the Bishop of Rome recognizes in that life an exemplary way of serving the Gospel, the poor and the Church; take Don Lorenzo’s torch and carry it onwards”.

Don Primo Mazzolari and Don Lorenzo Milani, are ” two priests who offer us a message which we truly need today”, said Pope Francis last Sunday during the Angelus prayer.

Recently, from many places in and outside the Church there have been various analyses and comments on this pilgrimage of the Pope.  Some have spoken of “rehabilitation”, others of “homage” for two priests who were always in the front line of their ministry.  Whatever the right interpretation, it is a good thing to leave room for the facts.  Pope Francis knelt before two great protagonists of the Church and Italian society in the twentieth century, recognizing in them a Church which placed itself at the service of the poor and announced the Mercy of Christ for everyone.  

This act of kneeling is of strong symbolic importance.  As we all know very well, Don Mazzolari and Don Milani were not short of “enemies”, as today there is no shortage of these for Pope Francis. They are enemies of  various origin, especially ecclesial ones and among these there are those who, at the first breath of wind, change flags, ready to change again whenever necessary. It’s like listening once more to the story of St. Paul when he recounts his experience of: “perils among false brethren”    ( 2Cor 11,26).  Opposition to the Church of the Poor and the Last is very active on the web and in some traditionalist blogs.  They accuse the Pope today, as they accused Don Primo and Don Lorenzo yesterday, of having thrown the Church into doctrinal, moral and pastoral confusion. Curiously, these blogs speak to each other, quote each other almost as if they were young Fathers of the Church. In reality, it is these defenders of an old church,  a church that no longer exists, who are in confusion today, who have been an elitist community for much too long, without any  sensitivity and  ignoring different voices, ignoring the poor. During the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, some lay and clerical pseudo Catholics reduced a part of the Church to a cavern of thieves  behind the backs of the two Popes, carrying on their business intrigues with the powerful people of the times, betraying the Gospel for a few pence; scheming with both the gay and financial lobbies, contracting out all evangelization work to the ecclesial movements, humiliating the parishes and the people of God; pseudo Catholics who defend principles by which they do not live and judge the dramas of people to whom they don’t listen, with whom they share nothing.

It is of paramount importance that we return immediately to the Church of Mazzolari, Milani and Pope Francis who divulge the Gospel with the Spirit of the Council, to attract not to proselytize.

It is with the strength of the prayer of Jesus and the Church as a whole that Pope Francis is undertaking his pastoral mission to bear witness to his brothers in the faith. He started off, as we all know, from the “outskirts”, from the island of Lampedusa, indicating to the world the centrality of both physical and existentialist outskirts.

Today, in Bozzolo and Barbiana, Pape Francis affirmed that the eye of the needle through which we need pass in order to speak to God is the outcast.   Every day, the cries of the outcast strike us, louder and louder,  “overturning” our Church pews, calling our attention back to essential things.

The Pope reminds us that the “Good News” of Jesus is not a new philosophy but the answer to the desire of all men throughout the ages: to be loved and free from slavery.

Whoever cures the wounds of the world, defends his people, teaches true freedom, excludes no-one a priori, is in the very heart of God.

Pope Francis, who came from the “end of the world”, today turned his face towards the entire world and the entire Catholic Church by indicating these two priests as models of the Gospel.

The Gospel reminds us that the Good Shepherd knows his sheep. Pope Francis has made the “ odour of the sheep” the perfume of all missionary works. And it is the odour of the sheep, says Pope Francis, which can reawaken the Church, people’s suffering and solitude, their desire for life and redemption, the frontier on which to build the field hospital which is the Church.

Let us thank the Lord for the gift of Don Primo and Don Lorenzo and let us ask the Spirit to give us the strength to carry on teaching the Gospel with their courage and coherence.  Let us also ask the same Spirit go give us the humility to ask for forgiveness, as baptized persons, as lay persons, as priests and as the Italian Church, from these two great witnesses of Christ.

From today onwards, after this pilgrimage made by Pope Francis, unless the Italian Church, and indeed the entire Catholic Church, follows in the footsteps of Don Mazzolari and Don Milani, it will be a Church that disobeys the Spirit and Peter.


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We do not love in words but with facts

Reflections on Pope Francis’s Message on the World Day of the Poor.

On November 19th, in the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, the first World Day of the Poor will be celebrated by the entire Catholic Church and by men of good will,  which Pope Francis had already announced at the end of the Jubilee of Mercy. On that day as a sign of sharing, after having celebrated the Mass in St. Peter the Pope will invite 500 poor people to lunch in the Paul VI Hall, the audience hall bearing the name of the great pope of Populorum Progressio. The previous day (Saturday 18) there will be a Prayer Vigil in the Church of St. Lawrence outside the Walls, to remember the Roman martyr who recognized the poor as a true treasure in the church.

I invite the whole Church, and men and women of good will everywhere, to turn their gaze on this day to all those who stretch out their hands and plead for our help and solidarity.  They are our brothers and sisters, created and loved by the one Heavenly Father. “(Message for the World Day of the Poor to No. 6).

We do not love in words, but with facts” is the title of Pope Francis’s first message for this day. The Pope speaks of “a thousand faces marked by suffering, marginalization, oppression, violence, torture and imprisonment, war, deprivation of freedom and dignity, ignorance and illiteracy, medical emergencies and shortage of work, trafficking and slavery, exile, extreme poverty and forced migration.“(n. 5).

It is not surprising the fleeting attention, even within the Church, to the proclamation of this world day. Not surprising but bitter, and we are all called to react strongly to indifference to the poor.

Those who have a lot of money and a lot of security are likely to live like the “carefree of Zion” spoken by the prophet Amos, and a whole world is being built, and even if there are thousands of Lazarus at his door, he does not even realize. The rich man of our years sometimes finds out and then makes some alms for the poor, gives some old dress that no longer puts, even though it does not have the Lazarus disorder at its door.

In all the Catholic Church, the parable of rich man is often read but tomorrow Lazarus will be as it is today without any changes. Unfortunately, Jesus’ message has often been imprisoned in the system and we have made it a little harmless; the message doesn’t affects our real life. This is the abyss of which the Gospel speaks. We also all see that the abyss between the Lazarus and the rich man has widened and is widening to a great extent.

We have for centuries determined that we cannot allow the promiscuity between those who are inside and those who are out. Lazarus must be out of the system and from our cities, using the Bible expression, out from the camp. Lazarus then is not only excluded but must also be convinced that it is normal so and  that is right. Exclusion affects him in consciousness.

Our society, however, says that it is inspired by the great principles of Christianity, the Enlightenment, and the Democracy, and then it tries to accept (perhaps not truly)  Lazarus the excluded, but it fails, because it should review its own principles constituent. Immigrants are the Lazarus of the twenty-first century and we only know how to widen the moat.

Christians and all humanity do not forget that God is on the side of the Lazarus, indeed God in this world is Lazarus. Jesus went among the uncleanness to teach them to stop being unclean, and looking at our cities and our system Jesus explained that the real Lazarus, the real immoderate, is our system. This is the Christian Revolution. Jesus came to wake the conscience of the excluded because they ceased to be considered legally excluded, because they know that dignity is their inalienable right. The system then tried to tame Jesus by “promoting him” as a guardian of the order, failing because He went  against a system that excludes, rebellion against political, religious and economic power. For this reason he has been crucified as a Lazarus any: “As a criminal you have hung on a wood” says Peter in the first speech after Pentecost. The Beatitudes tell us that the Lazarus have already won in Christ their battle of dignity. They are meeting us now, and they are millions. They do not want to destroy, but tell us the Word of Salvation that was entrusted to them. Blessed the Poor because yours is the Kingdom of God will tell Jesus. Yours is the secret of life.

Riches are not an end, but an instrument in the hands of men. Often riches have become an iniquitous tool because man has used it to dominate other men and subjugate entire peoples to control some elites. We have arrived in history even to the planned and calculated extermination of the poor, as the prophet Amos recalls. Thanks to God, the cultural progress of peoples is favoring a growing awareness of the need for a fairer distribution of the riches of the planet. Some international organizations and some of the more developed nations are struggling for new social equilibrium, but the battle is still very long and difficult. Jesus invites his disciples to be “shrewd” in the use of riches. He asks for each of us a different relationship with riches both individually and in community. For this reason, the private gesture of alms no longer suffices; we need to act so that wealth can become an instrument of liberation and reconciliation among peoples; this is the concreteness of the gospel, which by its nature is a social fact. History teaches us that not a few have moved away from the Church and the faith because they have received a bad testimony in the use of money and wealth. We are witnessing these years as Christians and citizens of the world with two very important facts. Pope Francis is witnessing the concrete possibility of a poor Church for the poor, and it is an extraordinary gift from the Lord, an example that stimulates us for new conversion. Moreover, at the same time, we are witnessing the fact that many poor people are – we would say so-resuming the gospel, often hidden behind them, in words of circumstance and humiliating alms. The poor today are aware that the gospel is first and foremost for them, and are no longer willing to wait for their rights and dignity. We carefully read and meditate in this regard the prophetic words of Don Primo Mazzolari, a poor priest among the poor to whom Pope Francis will honor, praying on his grave in a few days:I have never counted the poor because the poor cannot count; the poor embrace, they do not count. Yet there are those who keep the statistics of the poor, and they are afraid; Fear of a patience that can also be tired, afraid of a silence that could become a scream, afraid of a lament that could become a song, afraid of their rags that could become a flag, fear of their tools that could be barricaded. ” This is already happening.


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Eucharist bread for all

 

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes”

The earliest text on the Eucharist – the Letter to the Corinthians (53/57) – speaks to us about the fact that the Eucharist is in connection with the death of Jesus. The Lord is dead delivering himself and allowing himself to be taken from his enemies. Celebrate the Eucharist wants to teach us how to live. We hate to lives by giving ourself  as did Jesus and as also did the apostles. A Church that thinks to defend itself, is no longer a church.

It is the Gospel to live by delivery and it is the path to be fulfilled to have eternal life. We celebrate the Eucharist “as long as he comes”, waiting for him to return, believing that death has not defeated him, because those who live by giving for love have a stronger life than death.

The Eucharist is a way of life, not a rite. We are all very concerned at the risk of reducing the Eucharist to a private, intimate devotion, as if everything could be resolved in the exclusive relationship between myself and the Lord, closed to others and history. There are two current dangers in this regard.

In the book of Deuteronomy, we see the danger of nostalgia of other times: the people with the hard cervix resists the Spirit. Even today we have some people like that, resent the times of tranquility and of triumphant church, when the churches were full, and the lavish liturgies, the imposing ostensors to “suffocate” the fragility of the Sacred Ostia; Times which were, however, of injustice, of power, of money, of clericalism, where Christ was not there.

The danger of spiritualism And the bread that I will give is my flesh.God’s life is not outside of human reality. There can be no gift of the Spirit where there is also the gift of the flesh. Jesus specifically says in chapter 6 of the Gospel of John: “Whoever meats my flesh.” The chewing verb in Greek is very strong and means “shredding, shattering”. The Gospel is not an ideal, but the concordance of bread and flesh.

imageLuke’s Gospel in the tale of the multiplication of loaves and fish also offers us a very important indication

Everyone ate and satiated, and twelve baskets were carried out of their advanced parts.

There is no one who, coming to the banquet of the Messiah, is forced to return to fast. Indeed, there are loaves that are reserved to those who are left out of the canteen. We think, and pray, for all Christians living in a state of persecution, and can not celebrate the Eucharist; Pray for those who can not approach the sacraments and await the mercy of the Lord and the Church, not the hardness of the law; We pray for churches on mission land, where the priest arrives once a month; Pray for all those who have never met who the Lord, and also for those who have gone away for our fault and our contradictions. Let us pray because at the table to which Jesus wanted to sit, there really is a place for everyone, and no one is excluded, no one is missing; Perhaps then that will be the day he will return.

 


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Faith is a love story with God

Faith is a love story with God: “Whoever loves me will keep my Word” (Jn 14:23), reminds us John’s gospel. We have understood as if it were written, “he will keep my commandments.” and this is not true. The Word cannot be reduced to commandments, it is much more. The Word “which is now atwork in you who believe” (1 Thes 2:13) creates, generates and opens unforeseen and unpredictable paths and spaces. Sometimes we think that observing His laws we are loving God. It is not so, because we can be a Christian for fear, for seeking benefits, or for guilt. They have always said, “If you repent, God will be merciful to you. Instead, mercy prevents repentance, the time of mercy is always ahead. What does it mean to love the Lord Jesus? How do you do it? God’s love begins when we accept to be loved by Him. God does not deserve, God welcomes. Just as John’s Gospel says: “and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (Jn 14:23).

There is a very instructive passage of the Acts of the Apostles, where Chapter 8 tells the story of the baptism of an Ethiopian eunuch by Philip. The Ethiopian was reading a passage from the prophet Isaiah, and to Philip’s question “Do you understand what you are reading? “ he answered “ how can I, unless someone instructs me? “(Acts 8:31). In the path of approach and growth of faith teaching is needed, a transmission in which who knows helps  younger and more expert.

The whole Church history is done by the effort to put into practice this true work of mercy that is to convey faith.

St. Bernard recalls the various ways in which one can approach knowledge: “There are those who want to know only to know: and this is curiosity; There are those who want to know only to be known; and this is vanity; and there are those who want to know to be built up; and this is true wisdom; there are finally those who want to know to build; and only this is charity. “

Let us entrust to John the Apostle and the Evangelist: “the disciple whom Jesus loved”.


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Ashes, Water and Dust. Thoughts on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent

We can all remember our grandparents washing their clothes at the riverside with ashes and water. Ashes on heads on the Wednesday marking the start of Lent, water on feet on Holy Thursday.  The carnival masks are very beautiful but they are only good for a day; then follows life with its hard face of reality, the journey along a challenging course involving all men and women and their entire being, from head to foot..

Lent takes us into the desert and as many families know when divested of their masks they find the party is over and they have to fight day after day and often enter into the desert. The desert is symbolic of Lent, an essential part of our lives.   However, as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said so effectively: “Every desert, somewhere, hides a well, in every hardship there is the seed of an unexpected resurrection”. It is Easter the ultimate horizon of Lent.  The theologian Andrea Grillo writes: “To restore Lent as a festive initiation to the Paschal Mystery is a ‘great undertaking’, which we Roman Catholic Christians, belonging to the second generation after Vatican Council II, have found has been indicated by that great Council as one of the keys to access our ecclesial and spiritual tradition. To set in motion the symbolic mechanism of a festive journey of expectation, preparation and above all initiation to Easter.”

Pope Francis receives ashes from Cardinal Tomko during Ash Wednesday Mass at Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome

Pope Francis receives ashes from Slovakian Cardinal Jozef Tomko during Ash Wednesday Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome March 5. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (March 5, 2014) See POPE-ASHWEDNESDAY March 5, 2014.

“Convert and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return”, the priests will say as they are spreading the ashes. Faith and humility are necessary to commence the journey of conversion towards Easter;  it only needs a financial crisis for many to lose their daily bread, a disease and the joy of life will be wanting. Men and women are dust. And yet that dust, which houses the breath of the Holy Spirit, is still today the best creation of all.  The Holy Spirit bursts into our fragility and calls us to an original and ever newer identity.  We must act according to the Holy Spirit, with that fragile courage belonging to every baptised person which we see on every page of the Gospel making us new men and women every day.

The Lord, through the Prophet Joel whom we select for the First Reading on Ash Wednesday (Joel 2,16-18) asks us to gather people together, young, old, children, married couples, unmarried couples, immigrants for them to receive the invitation to  be reconciled with God, as Saint Paul reminds us in the Second Reading from the Second Letter to the Corinthians (2Cor 5,20-6,2).

In the Gospel, (Mt6,1-6.16-18) Jesus exhorts us  take the journey seriously.  God also walks and comes towards us and we welcome him with prayer, fasting and charity. These are not individual or private Lenten practices, rather they want to express our hearts which move towards God and towards all men and women, who are, from Easter onwards, our brothers and sisters.

May Lent help us to make our interior and exterior world  as the Father’s house where all men and women are brothers and sisters, and not turn it into a marketplace (Jn2,16), where everyone is an enemy and a competitor.


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Pope Francis, true witness of the Joy of the Gospel

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.