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Archbishop Follo: Christ, the Lamb, Takes Away the Sins of the World, Sends Disciples to Announce Gospel

With the invitation to be disciples of Christ, by bringing his word and presence into the world.

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Roman Rite
Fourteenth Sunday on Ordinary Time- Year C- July 7, 2019
Is 66:10-14; Ps 66; Gal 6:14-18; Lk 10:1-12, 17-20
Love is realist
Ambrosian Rite
VII Sunday of Pentecost
Jos 24:1-2a, 15b-27; Ps 104; 1Th 1:2-10; Jh 6:59-69
Only God has words of everlasting life
1) Sent on a mission
In today’s Gospel passage, St. Luke speaks of the mission of the disciples of that time and of today that is the same of one of the Twelve Apostles (Lk 9: 1ss) and of Jesus. The Redeemer sends us into the world as lambs, witnesses of the Lamb who overcomes the evil of the world with the merciful gift of self. He poses three conditions to be his true disciples: poverty, gratuitousness, and humility.
Humility: the disciple must not announce himself and his ideas, but the Gospel of Christ, meek and humble of heart.
Gratuitousness: the Gospel is a free gift to share for love and not for calculation.
Poverty: only in detachment from what one is and what one has, we can carry the riches of Christ, salvific fullness of love and truth. Christ asks not to wear a bag or sandals. The disciple is invited not to let himself be weighed down by too much baggage and too many needs. A disciple weighed down by excessive material well-being, no longer walks towards the world but becomes sedentary, conservative, skilled in finding a thousand reasons to consider the house in which he has settled to be indispensable. Poverty is also a sign of credibility: it shows that the missionary trusts in God and not in himself.
In this missionary journey towards all humanity, there is then a positive judgment on the heart of the world that awaits the liberating truth of the Redeemer: «The harvest is great, but the workers are few». The task is vast: the whole world. This world is ready like a ripe harvest. If the workers to collect the harvest are few, it is necessary to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send other missionaries to work in the great field of the world.
Hence the need for prayer so that there will always be more and more missionaries of the Gospel of joy and mercy.
2)Realism is the opposite of pessimism
To whom does Jesus entrust the duty of taking the joyful word of peace to the world that is waiting for it? To the ones that then and now, like Saint Peter, ask: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God” (as we read in today’s Gospel of the Ambrosian Rite, Jh 6:68-69).
Our experience is that all human beings have an attraction towards good, great things and excellence (for example in work, in studies, in sports, in literature and so on). Saint Paul wrote to the Philippians “ Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”.( Ph 4:8)
The greatest thing for which we can strive is love. Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta was so sure that the “greatest thing” for which we have been created is love (=” to love and to be loved”) that she became a Missionary of Charity. She did nothing but to repeat with her words and with her life Christ’s invitation to be joyful missionaries of truth and charity because our name is written in God’s heart (see the ending sentence of today’s Gospel of the Roman Rite, Lk: 10:20)
Unfortunately, this “push” towards high is contrasted by the “push against” of our sin which removes us from the vocation to be loved and to take this true love to the harvest of a world that aims to live in everlasting and serene peace.
Today the world searches peace more than freedom and the only sure peace is in the love of Christ, whose yoke is sweet. To those who think that Christ is the prophet of the poor, the disciples take a Gospel that makes the oppressed greater than kings. To those who foster the idea that His religion is the religion of an ill and dying people, we must show that Christ heals the ill ones and resurrects the” sleeping ones”.  To those who say that He is against life, we announce that He conquers death. The Son of God is not the God of unhappiness. He encourages his people to be happy and to his friends promises an eternal banquet of joy.
 3) It is required to know[1] love
Christ invites to pray the Father to send workers for the ripe harvest. We can say everything about Jesus but not that He was not a realist.  Certainly, He was not deluded or disappointed; He was looking at the world in a divine way. It is not enough to have this positive look to be his disciples. To be disciples that go into the houses and in the outskirts of the world (as Pope Francis often says), it is necessary that we know what love is so that we can discern true love from untrue love. It is necessary to be aware of how every one of us knows to love in the circumstances of his own life and in the now of our ordinary daily life.
Every definition is incomplete when we speak of love and there is always something more that we can say. We understand love and we learn it better when we encounter it. Mother Theresa of Calcutta, a missionary of peace and charity, teaches:” To love is not to speak, to love is to live. One can speak about love all day long and not love even once”.  I had the gift of meeting her quite often and I can testify her love and her example. Once during an interview, she was asked: “Could you tell us what in truth love is?”  Mother Theresa promptly answered:” To love is to donate. God has so much loved the world that He gave His Son. Jesus has loved so much the world, He has loved so much you, He has loved so much me that He gave His life for us. He wants that we love as He loved. And so now we must love until it hurts. True love is to give, to give until it hurts”. Once I asked a humble nun of Mother Theresa: “Sister is it true that like the Mother, you do everything for love?” The nun turned the palm of her right hand towards the sky as to say with a humble act: “It is obvious”. And with her mouth, she added: “It is natural” and carried on her apostolate peeling potatoes for the soup kitchen.
Saint John Paul II, whom I regard as a spiritual brother to Mother Theresa[2] , spoke of the “law of gift” written in our human nature. Human realization and happiness are reached living this “law” like he said:” to be in giving ourselves”.
It is a paradox engrained in our life if we turn to God and to our neighbor, then the results are our realization and happiness. If we focus on our happiness and realization (in a selfish way,” me first”) only, then we’ll never reach neither happiness nor self-realization.
Mother Theresa expressed this concept in an excellent way:” Love is one way. It distances from oneself towards the other. Love is the final gift of oneself to the other. When we stop loving, we stop growing and only in growing we reach personal realization. If we do not love, we will never open ourselves to welcome God’s life. It is through love that we meet God”.
The practice of charity (that is the apostolic activity and missionary activity) is within everyone’s reach in all phases of life. It is the priestly and “pastoral” vocation of every Christian man and woman. Every one of us has the mission to be a carrier of Christ’s love. Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta used to say: “God loves the world so much that he gave me and gave you to love the world, to be his love, His compassion. It is a wonderful thought and a certainty that you and I can be that love and that compassion”. In a substantial way, Mother Theresa pointed out that those who have more hunger and thirst for God and for His love and those to whom we own more… are the ones closer to us.  “How can we love Jesus in today’s world? Loving Him in my husband, in my wife, in the children, in my neighbor, in the poor”. In fact, the ones with whom we live are the ones that need Him more. Then the open circle of our love for God and our family welcomes all the ones that God gives us as neighbors.
Those who live in a particular way this “open circle” of God’s love are the consecrated Virgins. The “appellation” of virgin more than a physical integrity expresses the completeness of a donation to God. They don’t possess anything. They don’t have children of flesh. They live only donating themselves and to donate. With their lives, they show that it is possible to live a life free from the inevitability of the instinct. Like Mary, they become ostensories and tabernacles of Christ.
For them, the virtue of chastity is not a discipline that makes them owners of themselves. It is not only physical virginity but also spiritual virginity that rejects every thought, every memory and affection that is not for Him: all our being consumes itself in an act of love that unites us to our divine Groom. Not only purity, not only simplicity but also humility. When one lives in the divine light, it is like when at midday one wants to see the stars and cannot see them. In the light of God, I don’t see myself anymore, I’ve lost myself, I’m nothing, only He is, only He is the Loved One.
This virtue has a face, that one of the beaming Christ that illuminates them and through them illuminates the world.
They are evangelizers chosen not for their look but for their heart: ‘God does not see like a mortal being who sees the appearance. The LORD looks into the heart” (1 Sam 16:7).
Let’s pray the Lord to help us to “know” love as Saint Bernard of Clairvaux taught “The measure for loving God is to love Him without measure”, and to“ lift the love for the neighbor to the value of perfect justice, whose condition is to love him only in God”.                                                          
                                                                      Patristic Reading
From the «Discourses» of St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Bishop 
(Discourse 45, 23-24: PG 36, 654-655)

We become partakers of the law in a manner not purely material, but evangelical, comprehensively and not limited and imperfect, lasting and secure and temporary. We adopted as our capital, not the earthly Jerusalem, but the heavenly city, not the one that has been trampled by the armies but acclaimed by angels.
Let’s not sacrifice bullocks or lambs, with horns and hoofs, which belong more to death than to life, because they lack intelligence. We offer to God a sacrifice of praise on the altar along with the heavenly choirs of angels. We pass the first veil of the temple, let us draw near to the second and enter the «holy of holies.» And even more, let us offer ourselves to God each day and all of our activities. Let’s do as the words themselves suggest. With our sufferings let’s imitate the suffering that is the passion of Christ. Let’s climb cheerfully on his cross. Sweets though hard are in fact his nails.
We are ready to suffer with Christ and for Christ, rather than wishing the happy companies of the world.
If you are Simon of Cyrene take up the cross and follow Christ. If you are the thief and if you’re hanging on the cross do like the good thief and honestly acknowledge God,
If you are Joseph of Arimathea, ask His body to the one who crucified him, that is, take that body on you and make yours the atonement of the world.
If you’re Nicodemus, the nocturnal worshiper of God, bury his body and anoint him with ointments. And if you are one of Marie, scatter your tears in the morning. Go ‘to see first the upside down stone, go towards the angels that is towards Jesus.
 [1]  To know in Latin (sapere) has two meanings: “to know” and “to taste
2)To this regard let think of the many saint couples of brothers and sisters in Spirit, for instance; Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Claire, Saint Benedict of Norcia and Saint Scholastic, Saint Francis of Sales and Saint Jane Frances of Chantal  

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Archbishop Francesco Follo

Monsignor Francesco Follo è osservatore permanente della Santa Sede presso l'UNESCO a Parigi.

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