Thursday, July 16
Cardinal Cristoph Schönborn
Homily – Ex 3: 13-20, Mt 11: 28-30
Jesus Christ is praised!
Dear brothers and sisters, dearest Mother Elvira, I am very moved and surprised by this great assembly. I did not know what awaited me, only that I was invited. With great joy I came for this feast of Our Lady of Carmine, the twenty sixth anniversary of the Community: Happy Birthday to all of Cenacolo!
God’s plan is always marvelous and surprises us: today, on the feast of Our Lady of Carmine, today’s readings are so appropriate for the Community that I only have to say: “The Lord does wonders in the smallest things!”
We received this Word from the book of Exodus, which is an announcement of liberation, an announcement from a God that says: “I am with you; I am the One who will always be with you.” A God that reveals himself in this way: “I have seen the misery, the suffering of my people and for this I came down to free you from the slavery of Egypt, from that great pharaoh image of the prince of the world, to bring you to the holy mountain where you will offer me a sacrifice.” This announcement of freedom, the most beautiful thing for the Community’s birthday, has shown many of us that God is the One who has seen the misery of his people, who did not close his eyes or ears to the cries and the suffering of his people; He came down to free them from the hands of the pharaoh, who did not what to let his slaves or servants go. But God had another plan for his people; let’s look at this word that is so beautiful: “The Lord, the God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and Moses must tell the people. And what is this God’s name? “I am who am.” “I AM sent me to you."
God’s name: God is the one who is. What a consolation to know that God is! We all have received the gift of life; therefore, we all are in danger of losing our direction in life. Now God tells us: “I am who am,” he assures us that He is: what a consolation to know that God is. In a world where everything changes, where everything passes by, there is One who is!
Today God says: “I am the God of your fathers, of Abraham, of Isaac…” Traveling from Geneva here, to this holy mountain, I saw many Churches, testimonies of our fathers and of our mothers in faith. Today God tells us: “I am the God of your fathers.” Maybe you have forgotten your fathers, your father’s and mother’s faith… I remember one day Mother Elvira told me the story of her mother: the faith of our fathers, our mothers, of our ancestors. The God of our fathers has not forgotten us, and the God that is here today with us, who sees the suffering of his people, who observes, who comes down, who humbles himself, became man to be with us and to give us freedom, liberation, and redemption.
For this reason we do not have to be afraid of the pharaoh. Moses was afraid of the pharaoh. I am often afraid of the pharaoh, of the prince of this world, of the strength, of the violence in the world. Who are we? We are poor and weak in front of the world’s power and its temptations. Moses was afraid of the pharaoh; he understands that he is the great king of Egypt: “Who am I to speak to the pharaoh?” And God replies: “Go to the king of Egypt and say to him: The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent us word. Permit us, then, to go on a three-day journey in the desert, that we may offer sacrifice to the Lord, our God.” But the pharaoh does not allow it. He does not want us to be freed from slavery; the pharaoh always wants to keep us in slavery and for this, God has to send strong signals: ten signs to the Egyptian pharaoh, until he lets the people go. The Lord has given so many signs in these twenty six years of the Community! These are signs that He is the Lord and that he gives us freedom.
The Gospel chosen by the Church for today is the passage that tells each one of us and our many friends, brothers, and sisters that are suffering: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
The Lord Jesus gives us rest, but tells us one thing: “Take my yoke upon you.” We have experienced the weight of the yoke of the world, of sin, of slavery. Jesus’ yoke is light. We can testify this reality: Jesus’ yoke is light! Why is it light? Because He is “meek and humble of heart,” this makes man free, light, and so we also find rest in our lives, in Jesus.
And finally, the feast of Our Lady of Carmine: for me, for you all this date is very important and there are many reasons to love this feast. Remember that it was the last day of Mary’s apparitions to Bernadette, at Lourdes: five hundred and one years ago, today, the Immaculate Conception appeared for the last time to Bernadette, to this poor and humble girl. Then there is one further recurrence that I hold in my heart: it is the day of the feast of the Community of the Lamb, of which I am the Responsible Bishop; they are a little older than you, thirty years old, but they are a young community, and today they celebrate their birthday, so we are united with them. Those of you from Cenacolo have experienced the fact that to find Jesus, there is no journey that is simpler, more secure, or more luminous that that of his Mother! It is his Mother’s faith: “Blessed are you who have believed.” I offer in this Mass, all of the Community to Our Lady, to Mary: all of you and everyone you hold in your hearts, those who are suffering and waiting to encounter the God of our fathers, Jesus, the Redeemer, and his Mother, Mary. Amen.