The theme of this year’s Meeting is also the title that I wanted to give many years ago to one of my books in which I collected several of my lessons on the texts at the origin of the Movement: Traces of Christian Experience and GS: Reflections on an experience.
This is not an autobiographical note, much less narcissism. Rather, this book contained the transformation that Fr. Giussani wanted to make on the life of the Church and of Christians: to arrive at the Mystery that guides and illuminates everything, we have to start from the traces that He has placed within us, creating us. He’s talking about those evidences and needs that throw open the heart and mind, that put within the person the thirst for God to manifest Himself, for an encounter given by Grace, to each person in a mysterious way.
Thinking again after a long time about this expression “passion for man”, I turn, as much as possible, to God Himself, seeking to immerse myself in the sea of the Trinity.
God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn but to save (cfr. Jn 3:17,12:47): this is the synthesis of all of St. John’s Gospel.
“Passion for man”, therefore, can justifiably be the name of God who reveals Himself in the Son. I hope that my annotation doesn’t seem too inventive or out of place. If God has all of creation (including each of us) in mind from before time, in eternity, if He thought of us and chose us before the creation of the world (cfr. Ep 1:4), that means that the passion for each of us is within the gaze that the Father has always had for the Son.
“Passion for man” is, therefore, a name of God, and passion for man is the blood, suffering, and death -precisely the Passion – paid by Jesus, the Word made man, for love of each of us.
We can now look to the life of Jesus, just as Fr. Giussani magnificently narrated to us, to understand His passion for us. No man was as much of a man as Jesus: in Him humanity was manifested in its highest form, but at the same time most everyday and familiar form, charged with an intensity that appears more in the hidden details than in the brilliant light.
In Fr. Giussani, like in no one else, I felt the human shudder in the “Woman, don’t cry” addressed to the widow of Nain, in the sobs of the friend in front of Lazarus’ tomb, in the dialog between the Master and Simon Peter on the shore of the Sea of Galilee a week after the Resurrection. Perhaps only a soul and a mystic intelligence like that of St. Bernard of Clairvaux can show us a comparable compassion. Let’s place ourselves, then, in the school of these masters so that our humanity will be regenerated and become compassion for our brothers to whom God sends us.
In the image: Raphael, drawing for the tapestry of the Miraculous Catch of Fish (part.), London.