Würzburg 2023: Homily evening prayer

Marco Gnavi

Evening prayer
Evening prayer

Dear friends,

with great joy we have gathered together this evening. It is an opportunity to give thanks to the Risen Lord for the fraternity that unites us and to listen together to the Word of God, extending our embrace to the poor whom the Lord has given us as brothers and sisters.

Many among you are on the frontiers of prison: I would say that the Community of Sant'Egidio, by offering us to pray with the cross, opens up the perspective with which we can also glimpse our service to the women and men who are imprisoned, not only in Germany, but in Europe and throughout the world. The cross, with its burden of suffering and wounded love, is intertwined with the Beatitudes, because there is no human condition that cannot be illuminated by the Gospel. And there is no humanity wounded by evil and loneliness that cannot be liberated, that cannot be reborn: it is precisely these men and women who ask us to be their companions, while the Lord, long before us, is close to them. For them and for us, Christ suffered the Passion, was crucified and was returned to us, alive, with the marks of the nails and the lance. Jesus lived a love tested by loneliness, betrayal, abandonment, death, showing the limit of law when it is not at the service of man and the ambiguity of a summary judgement on the basis of religious conviction. Condemned as innocent he restored innocence to a man hung on the gallows with him. He made the last the first and the last the first.

And with the authoritativeness of the offering of his life, for the just and the unjust, for all of us sinners, he asks us for a leap of conscience, a new thought, to set out together towards the greatest promise: that of the heavenly Jerusalem. We must, however, live a higher justice than that of the scribes and Pharisees. Let us not deceive ourselves: scribes and interpreters of the Law were also better than us, but Jesus asks his listeners to live 'his righteousness', more radical than ours, because it is bolder. We are therefore all in the school of the Gospel that never ceases to amaze us and to overturn our criteria. Not only "do not kill" but do not say "stupid", do not say "crazy" to your brother. The stigma that marks the lives of so many people rob them of the dignity that the Lord Jesus recognised and restored to them instead.

The Kingdom of God does not begin with the healthy, but with the sick. Jesus loved to sit at table with publicans and sinners. He did not fear impurity. Rather, he fears that his contemporaries and we do not fully understand God's saving will. Indeed, he seems to suggest that to meet him, we need to approach those whom no one else approaches. Jesus, in Matthew's Gospel, fully identifies himself with the imprisoned, the naked, the hungry, the thirsty.

And so, we must confess: we have a privilege: to be led to him, and with him learn to disarm ourselves of judgements, distant. Nothing shelters us from the difficulties of life but mercy. God is mercy for us too. We do not want to be found distant from this mercy. Let us seize every opportunity. The Word of God will make us intelligent and bold. The fellowship between us will be strengthened by the Holy Spirit and make us creative and stronger than evil. With the power of Easter, an angel rolled away the heavy stone from the tomb that closed Jesus' tomb. With the power of Easter, we who have been freed from loneliness and sin, free those who suffer most from the lack of a future, knowing that many of these brothers and sisters will pass us by in the Kingdom of God. All things are possible, for Christ is risen, truly is risen. Amen.