Comunione e Liberazione Anniversary Mass

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Homily notes of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin Archbishop of Dublin

Milltown Park, 17th February 2015

“Our Gospel reading this evening is an unusual one in that it is one where Jesus is unusually and strongly critical of his own disciples. He talks about their stubbornness and their lack of ability to discern and to remember the marvellous works that he had done in their presence

The reading began with a warning that his disciples should “avoid the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod”. The term yeast or leaven in the bible refers to something which has the power – like that of yeast – of transforming a mass of dough into something many times its size – either for good or for evil. There is no real explanation given as to what this alliance between Herod and the Pharisees might have been about, except that it probably refers to increased efforts to suppress and damage the work of Jesus and its effects on for the good.

But what is the link between this negative leaven of the Pharisees and Herod with his own disciples. Surely they could not have been accused of being part of a movement against Jesus. Yet Jesus seems to be saying to them that there is something in their way of thinking which places them on the same level as those who were his detractors.

What might this criticism of his disciples be about? Jesus says to them keep your eyes open; he asks them with insistence: have you no perception? are your minds closed? have you eyes that do not see and ears that you do not hear?

This text is also unusual in that it is directed explicitly and unequivocally at his disciples. Very often in the Gospels, Jesus draws a distinction between the disciples – who at least seek to understand Jesus’ teaching – and the crowd which remain stubborn and fails to believe or to take the first steps towards belief. Here he places his disciples almost on the same level as the crowd of unbelievers.

In the passages of scripture which follow our Gospel reading, Saint Mark begins to indicate something of their blindness and he will do this curiously by illustrating how Jesus healed the blind. The Gospel is telling us that Jesus has the power to heal physical blindness but that there is another blindness which resists the power of Jesus and that is something of stubbornness in human beings who despite what they see and experience fail to discern and remained closed in what they see as their own self-sufficiency, but is really a self-centeredness which blinds them to the truth.

We come together on the tenth anniversary of the death of Don Luigi Giussani and on the anniversary of the recognition of the fraternity of Comunione e Liberazione. Don Giussani had a very special talent in working with young people. He worked especially with young people who were growing up in a secularised environment, with the challenge of widely different messages about the meaning of life and the challenge of a message of indifference. Don Giussani had the ability in this complex and confused world to help young people to discern, to see within that world where the person of Jesus and his message might open their minds and hearts to new light and bring sense and meaning to their lives.

It is very interesting to watch as Jesus reminds his disciples of some of the things that he had done and which they seem to have forgotten. They are annoyed about the fact that they had forgotten to bring food. Jesus reminds them of the occasions in which he had miraculously fed not just them but the large crowds. But there is one point that Jesus seems to fix on in particular. It is not so much about the miracle and their being nourished but about what was left over. On one occasion it was twelve baskets of scraps that were gathered up, and on another seven.

What was Jesus pointing at? The Gospel examples of what remains over after the miracles of the loaves and fishes – or at the Wedding Feast at Cana – are about his generosity. Jesus’ generosity – and therefore his light and his mercy – will always be greater than any human need. Jesus responds always with a generosity which moves outside the categories of human narrowness and our sense of sufficiency.

As followers of don Giussani – men and women who give thanks to God this evening for the many ways don Giussani has affected your lives – you are called to follow in his path of learning to discern how Jesus is present in your daily life and in the life of the society in which we live. But you are called to think not just of yourselves or even of your movement. You are called to be witnesses of that love of God which you experienced and to witness to it with that same sense of generosity and gratuitousness which is the mark of Jesus himself.

We pray on this anniversary that we will go from here this evening renewed in our commitment as witness to the generosity of God in such a way that our discernment and understanding and perception will be enlightened. We pray that we can – like don Giussani – represent in our society a leaven or a yeast different to that of the Pharisees and Herod and of the detractors of Jesus: that leaven of Jesus himself, the leaven of self-giving and superabundant love, a transforming dough which renders fruitfulness many times the size of our meagre human efforts and contribution.” ENDS