Cardinal Giuseppe Betori (Photo: Leonardo Pasquinelli)

Betori: "In Giussani, the certainty of the positivity of everything”

"It is this certainty, all grounded in experience, that I recognize as a precious contribution to our Diocese." The homily of the Archbishop of Florence for the anniversary of Fr. Giussani’s death (February 11).
Giuseppe Betori

Nearly a year has passed since the pandemic began to change our rhythms of life and habits. It has been such a challenging and dramatic year that some have called it "the worst year ever" or "a year to be erased"(Time magazine). Yet, our meeting together to celebrate Eucharistic thanksgiving, on the occasion of the anniversary of Fr. Giussani's death and of the recognition of the fraternity of CL, suggests a different understanding of time and history. How many times did Fr. Giussani, and after him Fr. Carrón, point out to you the decisive value of what happens: "The circumstances through which God makes us pass are an essential and not secondary factors of our vocation, of the mission to which he calls us" (L. Giussani, L'uomo e il suo destino [Man and his destiny], Milan 1999). This is what you have experienced in these months in the many new forms and modalities that you have found and experienced to continue to meet each other, even if virtually, discovering that there is no circumstance, not even the pandemic, that can prevent you from living life as a journey.

Once again you have discovered that it is possible not to deny anything of reality. The Christian does not "erase" anything, because history reveals itself to them as the place of the ever new and possible encounter with the present Lord. Today’s Gospel, which speaks to us of the beginning of Jesus' public ministry in Cana in Galilee and the lack of wine for the feast - an obvious miscalculation destined to wreck the feast in a mortified embarrassment - is for Mary the occasion to turn to her Son, to place that fragment of reality that was so lacking at that moment under her Son’s gaze. Our Lady's greatness consists precisely in bringing the whole of reality back to the relationship with Christ; in this way, what seems to be only a limit and a lack - the absence of wine and the error of calculation - is destined to reveal itself as the place of God's own action. Through the tasks that the servants of carry out, "doing" what Jesus tells them, the miracle is performed with extreme discretion so much so that the master of the table, as we have heard, does not understand where that excellent wine comes from.

Jesus’ presence responds beyond measure to the lack of wine and to the miscalculation with a quantity and a quality of wine that we could almost define as "exaggerated". It is this superabundance of grace - quantity and quality - that leads us today to wish to give thanks together: the final outcome of history is not linked to our ability to calculate, but to this superabundance with which God exceeds our every measure. The episode of Cana thus helps us to recognize how, amidst the great movements of history, there unfolds, discreetly, a particular story made up of those men and women who, like Mary, are willing to bring all of reality under Christ's gaze; it is thus He who each time points out what is necessary, making us His servants, so that through our lives the "new wine" of His presence can always transform history once again, saving it from inevitable shipwreck.

This is the experience promised by Isaiah to his people; a companionship with God in the journey of life, in the events of history: "As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem. When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass; the hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants" (Is 66:13-14). The consolation the prophet speaks of is not reduced to the many optimistic formulas that we have heard bouncing around in recent months - no - it is a consolation, Isaiah tells us, that "can be seen"; it is concrete, encounterable ,and for us has the stable physiognomy of the people of God that is the Church, "the holy faithful people of God", as Pope Francis teaches us.

The apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes, whose memory we celebrate today, and to whose protection Fr. Giussani has always entrusted the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, remind us how each time the Lord renews his initiative of grace in the great history starting from the "little ones," like Saint Bernadette, and like some of you whom the Lord has made a sign for our entire diocese - I remember Fr. Paolo, Caterina and Niccolò – and, first of all, Mary herself. History changes because of the "yes" of the little ones.

Read also - Antoniazzi: "Fr. Giussani’s 'unified' love"

Fr. Giussani taught you to ask for this simplicity and readiness of heart to welcome God's initiative, in the small and large events of each day with the formula that is dear to you: "Veni Sancte Spiritus, Veni per Mariam." In this quick prayer, explains Fr.Giussani, "[say] ‘Come’ to the strength with which the Lord wins - the strength of the Lord is the strength of Christ who wins -; and this passes through the concrete circumstances of life which, like the womb of Our Lady, generate the capacity of the relationship with Christ, generate the presence of the Lord. The world thus becomes like a great womb and all circumstances are the bowels of this womb: they are destined to give birth, not to die" (L. Giussani, Affezione e dimora [Affection and Dwelling], 2001). The certainty of this ultimate positivity of reality with its circumstances, which the charism continually invites you to rediscover in your lives, is what allows you not to succumb to the difficulties of history as well as to each of our personal limits. It is this certainty, all grounded in experience, that as your pastor I recognize as a precious contribution to our church in Florence. Therefore, in conclusion, I make Isaiah's invitation my own, no longer by virtue of a promise, but because of what you have the grace to live in your own personal journey of faith: "Rejoice, exult, shine".

Rejoice, because in a world where everything seems to be wrecked, you experience a gratitude that matures and grows over time, and for which we are here today.

Exult, because you discover that there are no circumstances that can prevent Christ from reaching you, recognizing Him and following Him.

Shine, so that what already burns in you like a spark, which seems like nothing, is almost nothing, may be able to inflame the lives of those you meet in school, at university, in your family.