Dear Sisters and Brothers! During moments like the one from the Gospel or from the life of Blessed Pier Gorgio we can grasp the closeness of God, can’t we? The voice of the Father declaring: ‘This is my Son, the Beloved’ is heard for the second time. How reassuring it sounds, doesn’t it? A few weeks ago when we observed the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord the same voice was heard saying: ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’ Who Jesus is? He is the Son of God and his second name is the Beloved. However the voice of the Father won’t be heard again in the Gospel. The next mountain where we will see Jesus will be the Mount of Calvary. There we will hear Jesus’ cry: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ It is not about Jesus losing his faith in his Father. If Jesus stayed on the cross it was because he knew that in the union with his Father and the Holy Spirit he was accomplishing our salvation. He had power to remove himself from the cross. He didn’t do it though. His cry: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ was a sentence from the Psalm 22. The Psalm would be prayed by pious Jews when they felt abandoned by God. By saying those words of the Psalm 22 Jesus brought into his act of salvation all our human situations when in pain, agony and distress we wouldn’t be able to make up any prayer.
As I said before the voice of the Father wasn’t to be heard again, but it would be better to say that the voice of the Father wasn’t to be heard again in the same way. When Jesus gave up his spirit a pagan soldier who was watching said: ‘In truth this man was a son of God.’ That pagan soldier, whose name we don’t even know, was one of many followers of Jesus who have been given grace to see the triumph of God and his love even in the situations when everything seems to contradict such belief.
Without God’s grace we can be shocked that God asked Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. However God who made such a request was the same loving God who ‘didn’t spare his own Son, but gave him up to benefit us all.’ Abraham was allowed to experience what God the Father would experience when his Son was to be on the cross on the Hill of Calvary.
At this Mass we will again lift up to heaven bread and wine so that our congregation again can be drawn to what Jesus accomplished for us on Calvary. We won’t just observe it we will participate in it. We will be drawn into it. May receiving Jesus’ Body give you grace to say after that pagan soldier: ‘In truth this man was a son of God.’ May believing in Jesus, the Beloved Son of God, help you to see yourself as God’s child loved by God to heaven.
My Dear fellow believers! In 1925 Pier Giorgio’s grandmother was dying. He was 24. When the whole family was occupied with his grandmother he developed some muscle pain. He went to bed but no one realised he was sick. It turned out to be aggressive polio which took his life a few days later. In his own agony he didn’t make fuss about himself. In fact he ensured that the poor he was helping were looked after. At his funeral his affluent family was surprised when thousands of poor people turned up. The poor people were surprised to discover that the young man who related so well to them came from such a wealthy family. However what was evident to all was that in his life and in his dying Pier Giorgio held onto his deep belief that he was loved by God. It gave him grace to live godly and to die peacefully.