Homily II Sanday TO-C
Giornate di Spiritualità della Famiglia Salesiana Casa Generalizia Salesiana,
Roma 2016.01.17 [1 Is 62,1-5; Sal 95; Cor 12,4-11; Gv 2,1-12]
Dear all, at the conclusion of this 2016 edition of ‘Days of Spirituality of the Salesian Family’, and starting from todays Gospel, I want to highlight four aspects concerning the life of our Family. I want to talk about a party, a Mother, a need, and a simple but essential element.
The fourth Gospel begins its ‘book of signs’ with a party: a wedding party, even. Therefore, it is a party full of life and hope, spirit of unity and sense of family and friendship. In such a party, if everything goes well, all feel brothers and sisters, involved in the story of this new couple’s past, with their roots and stories of origin. And in addition, everybody enjoys with hope to the future of this new family, this new tree that will hopefully give many fruits. Then, a mixture of past and future, among the different roots and the expected fruits is experienced.
We, the Salesian Family, too, are somehow in a wedding party, not only during these days, but every time we meet and, I would say, every day, in the daily development of our lives, services, and missions. We, too, are a blend of cultures, roots, stories, and celebrating our brotherhood, friendship and communion is good for us, because this fills us with hope for the future of this tree, which keeps on giving many fruits of life and holiness.
At Cana there was a Mother, Jesus’ mother, as the Gospel says. Even today here in Rome, at ‘Pisana’, there is a Mother: She herself, Jesus’ mother. Do you see her? Do you hear her? Of course she is here; otherwise the party would not be the same. She comes in order to protect, encourage and, of course, to cuddle our brotherhood. The fourth article of the Identity Card of the Salesian Family says that we are ‘a charismatic and spiritual community... linked by relationships of spiritual kinship and apostolic affinity’. This is a beautiful expression! And this kinship has, at its centre, a Mother who, as a woman and as a mother, is able to be always attentive to her beloved ones, always with open and guarding eyes in order to perceive her children’s needs, although these ‘children’ are already adult. So it happened in the puzzling wedding at Cana in Galilee. She warns her son Jesus: ‘They have no wine.’ And without wine, the party is over. Earlier there was wine, but it run out. In the heart of the party, one of the elements that characterize it is lacking, and not only in a literal and superficial sense, but rather in a deep symbolic meaning.
Here, in the heart of the party, image of life and also of our Family, suddenly a need emerges. We, kinship as well as male and female friends of Don Bosco’s, know well that our world today shows many needs. Post-war world (after the big world wars, cold war, some regional wars, etc.) seemed to finally set out for a better, more united and supportive, more human, fraternal and developed world. This had made us dream with the ‘better place’ of our prayer on Friday morning. But many times we become aware that we are still missing so much...
Our question should be: what more can we do, as we are already doing so much? It is very important, I would say fundamental, to learn from our Mother to be careful, to always look up, without staying closed in on ourselves, our struggles, our pains, selfishly. Let’s always be alert and watchful, especially with our eyes friendly addressed to the least ones, the young people for whom we were born, founded, and sent. Once again, I am never tired of asking a real Salesian Family, which comes out from itself, from the walls of our works, with the ability to go beyond its own projects, programmes, successes, and comforts.
The world, and many times even our communities and families, are short of wine, that is to say the joy and celebration of life, which is expressed in a life that is worth living. And we, dear, we [MB XVII, 628 ] Our beloved Father Don Bosco wrote it in a letter to Father Costamagna, then inspector in Buenos Aires. I refer to the letter written on August 10 th , 1885, and in the occasion of the forthcoming retreat for his brothers. Among other things, he said: ‘By then I would propose myself a sermon, or better a conference on the Salesian spirit that must motivate and guide our actions and all our speeches. May preventive system be typical for us. There is a Spanish translation that gives a lot of strength to this sentence: ‘Que lo nuestro sea el sistema preventivo’, especially taking into account both context and text of the letter. And in a letter to Cagliero, then Apostolic Vicar in Patagonia, four days before, we read: ‘Charity, patience, gentleness [...] do good to all; harm no one. This must be valid for the Salesians among them, among students, and other external or internal peopl’.
We said that without wine, there is no party. For us, dear brothers and sisters, Preventive system is our own. Then, without the experience of the preventive system there is no spirit for us (that is to say, we do not travel together the adventure of the Spirit!) and there is no real Salesian life: the party is over.
This wine is not a result of our own... but the fruit of walking along the path indicated by Jesus and animated by the Spirit. Jesus made wine from water. But the servants followed the indications given by Jesus’ Mother to provide and bring water. This is a simple, but necessary and basic element. Let’s stay careful to ‘Mary’s commandment’, as it was called by our sister Maria Ko, to deliver our water, although what is required of us may seem very strange. But let’s be careful: what is required of us, though it seems simple and of little value in comparison with the needs and with the missing ‘wine’, is itself essential and deeply important. In fact, in order to get to have the real water, we need to draw from the well, and the more deeply we can arrive, the purer water rises, because it rises from the bottom of our heart and our being.
In my ‘Strenna’ I have proposed a path of depth for you, for young people and the people to whom we have been sent. This journey, which I called ‘Challenges and Proposals’, has a double movement, in depth and to the outside. I enumerate it again: Looking within; Seeking God; Meeting with Jesus; Becoming / Being of His ones; Appropriating the fundamental values of human life, such as family, friendship, solidarity, ecclesiality, and life as a gift; and, finally, Maturing a life plan that responds to Gods call.
A party, a Mother, a need, and an element to be delivered.
Let’s give to many people the gifts from the cellar we inherited from Don Bosco’s heart and let us be accompanied every day by her, Jesus’ Mother, who takes care of us and teaches us to do the same to each other.
May our Mother Help of Christians and Mother of the Church help us to walk and serve in every corner of the earth and ‘With Jesus, to walk together the adventure of the Spirit’.
3 MB XVII, 626