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Mons. Giuseppe Guerrini, Bishop of Saluzzo

His Excellency the Most Reverend Giuseppe Guerrini
I think that the experience of the Festival of Life in these days draws us near to all that the Gospel tells us in the very beginning.  “They gathered around Jesus, and they reported all that they had done.”  These days have been, without a doubt, a gathering around Jesus, His Word, the Eucharist, His forgiveness, and the words of His witnesses in order to give glory, praise, and thanks because He is the wellspring of life.  So we conclude this experience of gathering together with Jesus, listening to His word, giving thanks to the Father through Him, and celebrating the Eucharist.  Gathering together with Jesus, what does Jesus tell me of the Father?

The first thing that Jesus says, and He says it with His attitude and with all of His life, is that Word which we find noted in the verse,  “He got out of the boat and He saw a great crowd, He felt pity for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”  He felt pity.  In the Greek language, in which Mark wrote his Gospel, he uses a word that doesn’t exist in classical Greek.  It only exists in the Greek of the New Testament.  It is formed from the word “visceral.”  So this we can say that this pity is a profound emotion, a love that comes from deep inside, a love that it maternal.  It is a love full of tenderness, full of delicacy.

The first thing the one experiences when gathering around Jesus is this:  God is a Father, and God is a Mother of tenderness.  In God there is this visceral love.  It’s the love and the kindness that God has for His own children.   “Come aside and rest yourselves for a while.”  It is the continuation of this very episode.  “Give them something to eat yourselves.”  We heard in the first reading from the prophet Jeremiah,  “I will gather up my sheep and will bring them back to their pasture.  They won’t need to be afraid or frightened anymore.  None will be left behind, not even one.”  The first experience is this act of faith:  to believe in the profound love of God.  We can believe this because we’ve encountered this love in the Lord Jesus.

In the show yesterday evening we were presented in a picturesque way the love that is expressed from creation to the resurrection and in the whole life of Jesus.  It’s this love that we are celebrating in the Eucharist.  It’s the love in which we say by heart,  “We announce your death.  We proclaim your resurrection.”  The Gospels affirms this.  They proclaim this profound love that God has for man, for every man, and for all of humanity.  And we believe that this is the reason for us to hope.  We remember the passage in the letter to the Romans,  “If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with Him?” and a little further on in the same letter,  “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor heights, nor depths, nor any other creature will ever be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I would like to emphasize a word taken from the second reading, from the letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians.  The word wall speaks of an impediment, something that divides.  In the temple of Jerusalem a wall divided the courtyard of the pagans, which was accessible to everyone, from the part that was reserved for the Jews.  In this verse Saint Paul says that, “Jesus Christ has destroyed this wall of division, demolishing the wall of separation that was enmity.”   So here we have the second great teaching: the love of God, the profound love of God destroys walls, the walls of apathy, the walls of indifference, of suspiciousness, of distrust, of fear.  “Mercy and truth shall meet.”   Mercy which is this profound love of God and truth will encounter each other.   Justice and peace shall kiss.

This phrase from the psalm, theme of the Festival of Life this year, is realized in Christ Jesus.  To encounter and to kiss is contrary to divide, to separate.  The wall in the temple of Jerusalem that divided the Jews from the pagans seemed impossible to penetrate.  The penalty for whoever crossed it was death.  Many other walls have fallen between one people and another, like the walls we have inside our hearts and inside our families have fallen, but we know that they continue to be born again.  I see many flags here, one next to the other that speak of different people and nations.  If I take just one, if I isolate any of these flags and I make it the only point of reference in my life, that flag which here is a sign of unity, of sharing, of participation, can become a sign of division, and that’s what it’s become thousands of times throughout the centuries, a sign of death.
To me it seems that the vocation of Cenacolo is to develop the verbs that speak of meeting:  to know, to understand, to accept, to help, to support, to appreciate, to embrace, to kiss, to love.  But we know that we’re also tempted by other verbs, like to suspect, to distrust, to distance, to defend ourselves, to arm ourselves, to attack…We have come here to touch, to feel the tender breath of God, to directly experience His profound love, and we leave her with this mission of the Community, that is also the mission of every one of us:  to tell everyone that this love that we celebrate is true!  It’s not just an expression.  It’s authentic because here we see it, we experience it, and we touch it.

It’s up to us to give witness to the mercy and truth that have encountered each other, the justice and peace that have kissed each other.  It is our responsibility.  We ask for strength from the Word.  We ask for strength from the Spirit of truth.  We ask for strength from the Bread of Life, because we know that, in spite of the struggle, we can fulfill this calling with decisiveness and perseverance.

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