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Homily by Archbishop Leonardo D’Ascenzo

February 28, 2019 Day of Obedience -120th Anniversary of the beginning of Luisa’s writings

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Homily by Archbishop Leonardo D’Ascenzo

Church of S. Maria Greca, February 28,  2019

Day of Obedience -120th Anniversary of the beginning of Luisa’s writings

(Liturgy of the Word: Sir 5, 1-10; Ps 1; Mk 9: 41-50)

Jesus uses a paradoxical language – a firm language - in this teaching, we are compared, as His disciples to salt, and therefore we are considered by Jesus as precious people.

Salt has always been and it is still a precious ingredient, it is very important and it was much more so in the days of Jesus, more than today, to preserve food. There was certainly no fridge at the time of Jesus! Without this precious ingredient, the food rotted, therefore salt is what allows us to maintain the quality of the food over time. Without salt, life would have been difficult and complex; It is such a precious element that it was also used as a payment currency; in the dictionary there are still terms such as salary or salaried worker, because at the time of Jesus the workers were paid with salt:  they were salaried.

So in the eyes of Jesus, in the heart of Jesus we are called to be salt, we are salt, that is, precious elements, so, as precious elements we are called to take care of others; "Giving a cup of water" means taking care of those around us, but in a particular way, "giving a cup of water because they belong to Christ". The starting point, the reason that led us to take care of others is Jesus. Taking care of others because they belong to Christ .... So taking care has as a starting point Jesus and as a point of arrival Jesus. At the beginning and at the end of every gesture of attention, of taking care of others, there is precisely Jesus. If we do not put Jesus at the beginning and at the end, we do not know what kind of connotation, what kind of evaluation, our life, our actions, our choices can have.

And precisely because we are salt, we are precious disciples in the eyes of Jesus, we can not scandalize anyone, especially none of the little ones. Not only we should not and we can not scandalize the little ones in chronological age, but “little” as the weakest, the most fragile people. We can not be an obstacle, an impediment to anyone in going to meet Jesus, to belong to Jesus, in living their lives towards Jesus. The one who offends is like a person who trips those who are walking towards Jesus; one who build a wall because of his behavior, his thoughts, his words, is an obstacle between the creature and Jesus. This is what causes us to sin and it is a very serious thing, as Jesus says,  it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. Jesus uses a very harsh and hard  language.

Here then, all these images by paradox, by exaggeration, to make us understand the importance of this teaching of Jesus. He says: " If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off,  if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off. or if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out ", that is to say that our service as disciples of Jesus is precious, as is the life of the other that we are called as disciples of Jesus to meet, to help, to accompany on the journey towards Him. There is nothing more important - Jesus is telling us here - and we should be willing to any kind of sacrifice, of renunciation to continue to be salt, disciples of Jesus in the world, just to continue to help others to go to Jesus, to avoid scandalizing and being an obstacle. Let’s ask the Lord Jesus to help us truly to be salt, to follow Him, to listen to Him.

Father Sergio reminded us that today is the day that is properly called "of obedience". While we were coming he reminded me of the reference to Luisa's life, in relation to the day we are remembering today, that is, the beginning of the writing of Luisa’s diary. And while we were talking we said that Luisa's obedience is certainly an obedience to God through a person, the person of her confessor. We do not normally listen to God in a direct way, in an extraordinary way. This can also happen, it depends on God to choose how to speak to all of us, but normally in the life of all of us, the Lord speaks to us through mediations: First of all the mediation of His Word. Today, listening to this passage of the Gospel of St. Mark, reflecting on this passage, the Lord tells us something, and we should obey Him through His Word, we should obey Him through the people that God chooses to set before us, and that speak to us of Him, and mediate. Each of us meets these realities or people who are a mediation.

However, in this Celebration we want to ask the grace to be people who are - as I said -  salt of the earth, people who are disciples of Jesus among the men that the Lord allows us to meet, to give them flavor. Each of us is called to give flavor to the lives of others, and this is a service that we offer each other, in obedience to God through those whom the Lord puts on our way.

Let us look at Luisa who gives us an example, an example that refers us to the Gospel, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus. Once again let’s ask Jesus to make us capable of obeying His teaching, His Gospel, and of living it as salt. in our life.

Arcivescovo Mons. Leonardo d'Ascenzo
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