Monday, August 2, 2010

Portiuncula: Feast of Forgivenes

Homily Feast of Forgiveness – St. Mary of the Angels
(Porziuncula – August 2, 2010)
Br. José Rodriguez Carballo, ofm – Minister General
Celebrating the Grace of Forgiveness

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
May the Lord give you peace!

It is with great joy that we arrive to the Porziuncula in order to taste and celebrate the grace of pardon; to taste and celebrate the goodness of the Lord who is love (1 Jn 4, 8); he loves and forgives us. He is preparing for us, not just any banquet, but a banquet in which he himself becomes our food and drink.

The event of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ Crucified, which is at the heart of Christianity, is understood by Paul as an event of God’s love for humanity in its condition of sin as enemies of God (cf. Rom 5, 8-11). This event, moreover, is marked by the love and gratitude of God manifested in the gift of his Son to humanity, a gift of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is remission of sin. Forgiveness is the removal of obstacles that block our intimate union with God with others and creation in such a way so as to feel anew the grace of reconciliation and of deep communion between God and us, us and others, and us and creation which were all weakened through sin. This happens, moreover, not by virtue of a juridical relationship between God, who receives the offense, and man, who sins, but rather thanks to a relationship of grace. In other words, our repentance like that of the prodigal son (cf. Lk 15,11-32) will only begin the moment we become aware of the faithful love of the Father, who never stopped loving us though we were far from him through sin. What we call forgiveness, in fact, in the eyes of the Father is none other than a love that can never deny itself. Forgiveness, therefore, can only be understood in light of the freedom of love and the logic of the gift which became total and totally gratuitous in the Son.

As part of a reflection on the Trinitarian love of God, forgiveness is a participation in the victory of Christ over death. If resurrection means that death doesn’t have the last word, then forgiveness means that sin is not the last truth of the human person. The last word and the last truth in the life of the human person will always be the love of God. The human person is above all the beloved of the Father for whom He (the Father) doesn’t hesitate to give his Son, so that humanity may return to full communion with God, others, and all of creation – as willed by the Creator from the beginning. In this way, we can say that the Church is a communion of converted sinners, who live the grace of forgiveness, handing it down, in turn, to others (Joseph Ratzinger).

The forgiveness we feel the need for comes to us through the indulgence of the Porziuncola obtained by Francis directly from the Pope, in order to send us all to paradise. Because Francis experienced the mercy of God in his life as he himself confessed it in his testament, he wants everyone, likewise, to experience it. What is specific about this indulgence is its gratuity. Unlike other indulgences, this one is gratuitous. That is why we can say that it is the indulgence of the Poor who cannot go either to Jerusalem or St. James of Compostela. Francis’ big heart doesn’t want anyone to be deprived of the possibility of going to paradise without the possibility of being forgiven.

Dear brothers and sisters, convoked to taste and celebrate the grace of forgiveness, we are being called first to rediscover the love of God and then to share this love and forgiveness with others. This is, in fact, the attitude necessary to participate fully in the Feast of Pardon. The first as a condition to taste forgiveness while the second as a consequence for being forgiven.

If anyone is not aware that God loves him/her, how then will he/she celebrate the Feast of Pardon? The saints are those who, like St. Francis, feel forgiven and consequently feel the urgency to break with any situation of sin, no matter how small, precisely because they feel really loved by God. When Francis was crying out on the Mount La Verna, Love is not loved! Love is not loved!, he did so because he experienced the great love God for humanity and the insurmountable distance between the love of God and the love of man. Furthermore, when he affirms in his Testament that he was in sin he doesn’t say this out of humility, but rather because he is convinced it was true. He knew it was true because God’s love for him is without limit, that is, seventy times seven (Mt 18, 22). This is why the Lord in his Gospel according to Luke when teaching the Our Father teaches us to pray God to forgive us as we forgive others. Anyone who feels forgiven, of necessity becomes an apostle of forgiveness and reconciliation. Francis teaches us this, for example, when he sought to reconcile the bishop with the podesta (governor) of Assisi and the wolf with the city of Gubbio.

Brothers and sisters, my friends, as we celebrate the solemnity of Holy Mary, Queen of the Angels, we address her in this liturgy with the same praise the book of Sirach in today’s first reading addresses wisdom. Like Lady Wisdom, Mary is the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy. In [her] is all grace of the way and of the truth, in [her] is all hope of life and of virtue…She is full of grace as the Angel called her whose memory is unto everlasting generations. (cf. Sir 24,27). She is the woman from whom the Son of God was born to rescue us who were under the law of sin (cf. Gal 44, 4-5). She is the faithful disciple who found grace before God (Lk 1, 30) because she conceived the Son first by faith before conceiving him in the flesh (cf. Lk 1, 45). She is the Virgin made Church, the palace, the tabernacle, the dwelling, the clothing, the servant and Mother of God – as St. Francis praised her (Salutations to the Virgin 4ss).

Following the advice of the book of Sirach, let us then draw close to Mary and this Mother of Mercy will then lead us to the Son in order to taste how good the Lord is (cf. Ps 33). We, too, will find grace before God; and as we go into ourselves (cf. Lk 15, 17), let us embark on a journey back to the Father’s house. He will have compassion on us; will run to meet us half way and as he embraces us, will welcome us with great joy (cf. Lk 15, 20) because a sinner has repented (cf. Lk 15, 7). Then the feast will begin, the Feast of Pardon, the feast of him who was lost, but now alive again, lost but now found (cf. Lk 15, 32). Hence, the Feast of Pardon consists precisely in this: to feel loved by God who is LOVE.

May both the Queen of the Angels, Mediatrix of All Graces, and our father St. Francis obtain for us from the Lord the grace to experience this each time when, due to human weakness, we feel like sinners! Happy Feast of Pardon!

No comments:

Post a Comment