Mass for Fr. Giussani in Tunisia

Antoniazzi: "Fr. Giussani’s ‘unified’ love”

"We must not be spectators in the world, but witnesses and protagonists.” The homily of the Archbishop of Tunisia during mass for the anniversary of Fr. Giussani’s death.
Ilario Maria Antoniazzi

Dear friends, we have listened to the Gospel and the question that the doctor of the law asked Jesus: "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?". This could be translated as: "What should we do in our lives to be good Christians? What should we do for our lives to have meaning?" Especially today when everything is relative, nothing is certain. Today we doubt everything, we wonder where the limits of good are and where evil begins... We doubt everything! Some people think that there is no more sin in the world. This is what made Pope Saint Paul VI say that the devil's greatest achievement is to have convinced man that there is no longer any sin.

Jesus responds with His divine clarity: "You shall love your neighbor with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your spirit".

There are 613 commandments in the Old Testament, 613.... This explains the doctor of the law’s question: which is the most important commandment? Six hundred and thirteen! Jesus summarizes them in two commandments, unifying them in one word: Love.

The Christian’s first duty is to love God. It is not enough to believe in God, one must have a friendship with God, a daily dialogue full of warmth and love. The word "all" is striking: "With all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength". God wants to be the "all" of our lives.

Let us immediately ask the question: is God the all in our lives? Do I really have a relationship of love with Christ, with God? This question can only be answered by God, by Him alone. But there is a visible and infallible test that gives us an answer: our love for our neighbor. It is difficult to analyze our love towards God, but it is much easier to decipher our love towards our brothers, because it is based on something more concrete. I love my neighbor if, in the face of life's difficulties, I do not turn away, I do not pretend not to see them, I do not remain indifferent. I love my neighbor even through my dislike, although I cannot stand their character, their face, I cannot stand their way of thinking, of speaking. I love my neighbor if I am able to forgive their offenses.... It is clear, it is sensitive. If I do not live all this, I do not love God even if I say all my prayers.

Today is the feast of St. Peter. In the Gospel, the only question Christ asks Peter is, "Peter, do you love me?" A matter of love, "Do you love me?" And, since Peter replies, "You know everything," Christ tells him, "If you love me, strengthen your brothers in faith." Love is not "in the air", there is a "practical" love towards God that must lead towards our brothers. "If uou love me, strengthen your brothers in faith."

The apostle St. John is clear when he tells us, "If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he that does not love his brother, whom he has not seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1 John 4:20).

What is beautiful in Fr. Giussani's life is that he was able to unify this love in his life. For him, it was not something surreal, something abstract, but it was part of his everyday faith. It was a love that he directed towards God and towards his neighbor to make them understand that God loves them, that God wants to save them despite their difficulties, despite their sins. "God loves you." But he used the expression, "God loves you", because at the bottom of it was: "I love God", first of all.

This love, Fr. Giussani told us, is to be announced to everyone, this gospel, this good news: "God loves us." It is this good news, "God loves us", it is this love, this joy that the world needs today more than ever. Because of the difficulties, because of Covid, because of the lack of work, we are faced with a world that has lost its hope. "There was a missionary zeal in him," they testified, "a missionary zeal that was nothing less than a fire of love that burned so that Christ might be encountered, known and loved.” His Christian faith was capable of responding to the essential questions of every person's life, and he was not afraid to fight with all his might to show that it was good to follow Christ even in a society that is scarcely religious. With the magnet of his love for Christ, he attracted crowds of young people to Christ.

Fr. Giussani asks us not to be spectators in the world, but witnesses and protagonists capable of dialoguing with the world, of going out to tell everyone that God loves us, but also capable of listening and responding in a concrete way, with our lives, in such a way that everyone can understand and taste, through our own lives, the sweetness that faith in Christ gives. We can summarize all of his teaching with the words of Cardinal Ruini: "The purpose of our evangelization is not to persuade someone with the excellence of our doctrine, but to make them encounter the living Christ, present in the midst of His Church, through us. We thus like to make people discover the aspects of the Good News that Christ came to reveal, because we believe that He is truly our Savior and our Lord."

In these words, we can summarize the message that Fr. Giussani delivers to today's world, to today's Christians. And Christians, he said, must be convinced that it is God alone who converts the hearts of men and that their lives must not be contrary to the gospel they proclaim. It is easy to proclaim the Gospel; it is more difficult to live it. Especially here, in Tunisia, our "preaching" is not talking, but showing, being.

Read also - Zuppi: "Fr. Giussani's passion for humanity”

Like all modern prophets, Fr. Giussani was a path marker, he showed us how to walk towards God, without presumption, with much humility. We are not afraid to follow the traces (of modern prophets) because of our flaws and weaknesses. I really like Charles de Foucauld’s expression, who said, "Man can only understand when he is aware of his littleness." This is the logic of the Gospel of Christ who built his Church on a defeat, the defeat of the Cross, who built his Church on our weakness.

Only one commandment: love. It is easy to say, but it is more difficult to live it in every step of our lives. Let us place our steps in those who have preceded us, like Fr. Giussani - a prophet of our time - and we will be sure to walk on the right path, the path that leads to Christ.