Bishop Philip writes…
Last Saturday, I went to Winchester to meet with families and members of Communion and Liberation from across the Diocese, including the priests from St. Swithun Wells parish, Frs. Luca, Raffaele and Marco (and the seminarian, Andrew). The meeting began with Mass, followed by lunch and then a discussion about two matters: (1) the role of families in the life of the Church; and (2) witnessing to faith in society today. Here is part of the homily I preached at Mass.
In the weekday Masses this week, we’ve been listening to Chapter 8 of St. John’s Gospel, in which Jesus, in a growing confrontation with some of the Jews, reveals Who He is. He is the long-awaited Saviour, the Light of the World, the Source of eternal life. But He then goes on to reveal His inner identity, His divinity, His eternity as God the Son made flesh. The audience recoiled: Who are you claiming to be? Jesus makes it clear: I tell you most solemnly, before Abraham was, I Am. He not only comes from God, He is God. Like for many today, this was in-credible. They could not, or would not believe, and some, detecting blasphemy, picked up stones to throw at Him. The authorities panicked. Many people were following Jesus; traditional Judaism, and the uneasy pact with the Romans, was under threat. And thus today, on the eve of Holy Week, we hear those poignant words of High Priest Caiaphas: You do not seem to have grasped the situation at all; you fail to see it’s better for one man to die .. than for the whole nation to be destroyed.
We gather today to offer Mass for Ven. Don Luigi Giussani, praying for his canonisation. He came from Desio near Milan and after entering the diocesan seminary, was ordained in 1945 at the young age of 22. After a period, teaching in the seminary, he asked to work in high schools, because he wanted to support the young who were living in a culture increasingly hostile to faith and the Catholic Church. He wanted to help them discover the relevance of faith to life. He fostered GS, Gioventú Studentesca, arguing that faith is more than doctrine and moral laws but an encounter. Christ is the centre of everything and we can know Him in the community of the Church. After 1968, this movement, now open to university students and adults, became CL. At his funeral in 2005, Pope Benedict said: He saw Christianity as not an intellectual system, a set of doctrines, a moralism, but an encounter, a love story, an event. He taught that the goal of the Christian life is to grow in friendship with God, and that we must see the whole of everyday life as an incarnation and therefore an opportunity to know God better.
Many people today, if you asked who Jesus is, might say: a good man, a religious founder, even a prophet. But we know He is infinitely greater. He is God the Son. He is the centre of our lives. He is the only way to happiness. In this Mass on the eve of Holy Week, let us pray for the mission of the Church in our Diocese, that we will bring many more people to Jesus Christ through His Church. But let us pray too for ourselves, that through the context of our daily life, we may come to a deeper relationship with Him and thus go out to transform the world.