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February 28, 2021 Homily of Bishop Leonardo D'Ascenzo during the Eucharistic celebration in the Church Santa Maria Greca

3/1/2021
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Homily of Bishop Leonardo D'Ascenzo

during the Eucharistic celebration

in the Church Santa Maria Greca

 

February 28, 2021

 

 

By order of my Confessor I will begin to write what passes between me and Our Lord day by day. February 28, 1899. I confess in all truth the great repugnance I feel, and the effort I make to win myself over is so much that only the Lord knows the torment of my soul. But oh, holy obedience, what a powerful shackle you are. You alone could have victory over me, and overcoming all my repugnances, almost as insuperable mountains, you bind me to the Will of God and to my Confessor.

 

In her Diary, the first date that Luisa Piccarreta records is February 28, 1899. This anniversary is celebrated every year as the Day of Obedience. Luisa begins to write in obedience to her confessor who, for her, represents the Church. She lives in obedience even if it costs her much effort, suffering and persecution. Yet, she is able to go even further being a woman of faith trusting in the Lord.

The readings of this second Sunday of Lent, just announced, give us food for thought precisely in this direction.

It is important to start from one consideration: the top of a mountain appears to the eye of the beholder from a distance as the point where heaven and earth meet, the point where God encounters man. This is why, in the symbolic language of the Bible, the mountain represents the place of God's revelation par excellence. Climbing the mountain, then, is equivalent to experiencing God. God manifests Himself and makes us learn about Him what we cannot imagine or fabricate with the sole effort of our reason.

Today's liturgy of the Word offers us two narratives taking place precisely on a mountain. In the first reading, taken from the book of Genesis, the sacred author speaks to us of Abraham who, in faith, accepts God's will even when, in a dark moment in his life, it seems opposed to his joy and hope. God appears raged against Abraham as He asks for the sacrifice of his only son, Isaac. In the final scene, the narrative proves that this is not exactly the case. In fact, the human sacrifice is prevented by the angel of the Lord. For Abraham, climbing the mountain means renouncing the security of his human fatherhood to rely only on the word of God and to receive Isaac as the promised son, not only as the son of his flesh. True security is in God, in His word and His Divine Will. In this way Abraham becomes the father of an immense multitude!

The Gospel of Mark tells us of a second great revelation, here also on a high mountain where Jesus is transfigured before Peter, James and John. The three disciples experience Jesus in His glory and divinity. Even without knowing what to say because he is frightened, Peter speaks out and asks to be able to build three tents - one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah, who appear while conversing with Jesus. It seems that Peter wants to remain in the peace of God's glory, to already enjoy an early Pasque by refusing the Lenten journey of life where one also experiences the darkness, suffering and silence of God.  

From the cloud that overshadows them they hear the voice of God: "This is my Son, the beloved; listen to Him". Listening to Jesus, for Peter, James and John and also for all of us, means descending from the mountain, sharing our journey with Him and living life in the valley. I think I can say that living in the Divine Will is to walk precisely in this direction: to enter into intimacy with the Lord Jesus in the shadow of God's presence, allowing Jesus to accompany us and living our life with Him in every aspect. And so, it is not a question of doing the Divine Will in the sense of a purely material execution, as servants, but of living in It as children and letting ourselves be embraced by the love of God. Therefore, in our daily life, in the situations we all experience even in this difficult time of the pandemic with the many restrictions and uncertainties, with our miseries old and new, among much suffering and mourning, let us feel called to bear witness to the Gospel, the good news, the love of God and for God, love of neighbor; and let us especially take care of one who is poor, a foreigner, frail or ill.

My wish for everyone is to live a deep and intimate friendship with the Lord Jesus in obedience to the Divine Will and the Church, with the desire to walk together in communion, and to begin writing with the concrete witness of words and deeds what passes between us and Our Lord day by day.   

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