Dear brothers and sisters,
It is always a great joy to see one another to celebrate together this Holy Mass for the soul of Fr. Giussani, an occasion of memory and above all of thanksgiving for the many gifts that God, through the person of Fr. Giussani, has given to our lives and to the entire Church.
Allowing myself to be provoked by the Gospel of this evening, I would like, together with all of you, to focus on a passage that the evangelist Mark brings to our attention, which describes well one of the most interesting aspects of the life of don Giussani.
Jesus is approached by a father who comes seeking the liberation of his son from a mute spirit who has possessed the boy for many years – “from childhood” (Mk 9:21), we heard – and who does not allow him to live: “If you can do anything,” the father asks desperately, “have pity on us and help us” (Mk 9:22). Christ, even though he would have been able to perform the miracle immediately, stops in front of this father and corrects his request. He invites him to follow an itinerary so that, through the dramatic situation in which he finds himself, he might understand that which he truly needs and understand the road that might lead to the freedom of not just his son, but of the father himself.
“If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out i and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mk 9:23-24)
My dear friends, in this episode, designed with just a few strokes, we find the heart of the education, of that which Fr. Giussani, who always was like a student learning from Jesus, sought to live and to teach with his entire existence. The circumstances in which life places us, even those most dramatic, are the road that leads us to a more profound understanding of ourselves and of God, of our need for help, but also of the journey that our freedom is called to embark upon. Jesus does not substitute himself for the freedom of the father. He waits for the father to turn to him. He is simply present, and the light of his presence provokes the request on the part of the man. This is the first step of education: to help the person, with the intentional witness of our own life, to become aware of his needs and his desires.
Often, these needs and desires are superficial, and they are reduced to the request for the resolution of a situation that we are not able to live. But Jesus takes these desires seriously. He knows that they are the way that may allow other, deeper, desires to emerge. How many people we are able to encounter when we begin to take their needs seriously! The lack of work, the need to be helped with one’s studies, the need to find a house where one might stay for a period of moving…the sharing of our needs, as don Gius has taught us, is the road towards sharing our lives. In the Gospel, the Teacher, beginning from the requests of those who turn to him, takes these people by the hand and leads them, step after step, on an itinerary in which their “I” gets up again, ceases to be the passive subject of an external help, and becomes a protagonist. He helps these people, in other words, to discover the promise hidden at the bottom of every situation that God permits them to pass through. To the father that says to him, “If you can,” Jesus responds, “Not if I can, but if you can! If you can believe! The sickness of your son was the occasion for you to enter into a relationship with me. But it would be much too little if I healed your son without introducing you into the life of faith, in which all of the other circumstances of your life might also be lived in a true way. ‘All things are possibile to him who believes.’
With these words, the second step of the path of education has been revealed to us. After having helped the person to become aware of his needs, it is not enough to respond to them, simply offering the answer to their questions. It is necessary to introduce them to a relationship, to a place in which they themselves might stay to judge the correspondence of what they have heard or seen, alive in us, with their desire. It is necessary send them down a path along which their lives might be progressively and freely embraced by the warmth of a lived communion. This is what every man and every woman desire in the bottom of their heart: to feel that they are loved, and to be able to love. It is this that we, thanks to the charism of Fr. Giussani, have experienced and that we are called to live for the service of the entire Church.
We ask the Lord, therefore, also through the intercession of Fr. Giussani, that our lives, our homes, and our communities might be places of authentic hospitality and friendship, places in which the beauty of the Christian life shines through, places inhabited by a communion that all of us desire and in which every person can experience the liberation and the peace that he seeks.
Homily of the Holy Mass on the Occasion of the 12th Anniversary of the Death of Fr. Luigi Giussani
Reggio Emilia – Basilica of the Blessed Virgin of the Ghiara, February 20, 2017
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