you’ve come to this Pilgrimage—whether consciously or not—because of a need that set you into motion even before starting upon the road to Loreto. Growing in awareness of this need is the most important work that awaits you tonight, because it’s the only way to keep this walk from being mechanical, taken for granted.
And how can we help each other to recognize our true need? It’s enough that we openly admit to the fears, the sufferings, the sadness or sense of solitude that we feel, without censoring anything, in order to recognize how needy we are. What is the dominant thought that has pushed you to make this pilgrimage? What remains standing “like a tower in an empty field” (G. Leopardi), in the midst of all of life’s circumstances, which so often find us entangled, afraid and disappointed?
After being invited to the home of Zacchaeus for lunch, Jesus affirms, “Today salvation has come to this house.” What about us: does salvation interest us, or has it been buried beneath the mountain of our own comfortable habits? Do we prefer to content ourselves with something less, reducing the boundless desire that we carry in our hearts? How great is our need to recognize our true poverty!
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Jesus says, “because theirs is the kingdom of heaven;” theirs is salvation. This is why Giussani repeated over and over that, “The true protagonist of history is the beggar;” and why Pope Francis wrote to us, “This poverty is necessary because it describes what we truly have at heart: the need for Him.”
Go, then, to Our Lady, sustained on your way through your mutual witness, to ask of her the poverty of which she is the queen; that God may have pity on us and so may look upon our nothingness, just as He “looked with favor on His lowly servant.”
As you walk, it will help to focus your attention on the question Jesus addresses to Peter’s nothingness: “Do you love Me?” Have you ever thought of how He must have looked at Peter in order to ask that question, after he’d denied Him three times? Not even his betrayal could get in the way of Christ’s endless pity upon him. And have you ever thought of the impact Peter must have felt, thinking of his own nothingness, in order to muster up that disarmed response from the deep within?
“Lord, you know everything; You know that I love you. My human sympathy is for you; my human sympathy is for you, Jesus of Nazareth” (Fr. Giussani). I reread those verses of the Gospel on Peter’s “yes” (Jn 21) all the time; how could I follow the path I’m given without constantly going back to that? I would lose myself; I’d be incapable of identifying my true need and the One who is responding right now.
Have a good journey, filled only with the need for Him.
Fr. Julián Carrón