Cardinal Giuseppe Betori

"He reminded us that God does not change His method"

The homily of Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, Archbishop of Florence, at the Mass for the centenary of Fr. Giussani's birth. Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata, 11 February 2022.
Giuseppe Betori

The account of the wedding feast at Cana that has just been proclaimed finds key to interpretation in the Evangelist’s concluding remark: "What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him” (Jn 2:11). The Evangelist suggests that the special attention that Jesus pays to such an ordinary aspect of life - the lack of wine at a feast - is to be grasped within a horizon in which the ordinary is revealed as the possibility of the manifestation of the glory of the Lord Jesus. The limited horizon of life, the error of human calculation and with it the human impossibility to make perfect even the most trivial thing, become the occasion for Jesus to reveal who He is. The miracle of Cana cannot be reduced, therefore, to water becoming wine. The exceptionality of the sign, so overabundant in quantity and quality, is not determined by the positive outcome of the banquet, but rather in the "flowering" of faith in the disciples. This sign, with which Jesus' ministry begins in the fourth Gospel, tells us that an entirely new possibility has been opened up to man: to recognize the glory of God in Christ Jesus among the ordinary events of this world and, therefore, to believe in Him. Only the God who is willing to immerse Himself in the concrete limits of human finiteness, the God who becomes finite, can open up to man the possibility of following their infinite desire. The beginning of this new era, which is the messianic age, is the authentic wedding feast of history, in which divinity and humanity are manifested, in the presence of Christ, inseparably linked. The entire Mosaic law thus finds its concise formula in Mary's invitation to the servants: "Do whatever He [Jesus] tells you" (Jn 2:4).

The question thus arises: in what way is this belief possible today, in what way is it possible to listen to the voice of Jesus so as to do whatever He tells us? The answer to this question allows us to recognize that the thanksgiving that we celebrate here on the anniversary of Fr. Giussani's death and the recognition of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation cannot be a formal act for us, but the real expression of gratitude to God for the charism given to Fr. Giussani. How many times, in fact, did Fr. Giussani and, after him, Fr. Carrón remind us that the Mystery of God "does not change its method" to meet the human. Today it is just as it was two thousand years ago. Let us listen to Giussani's words: "Faith in Christ, as is evident from the emergence of the Christian fact, is to know a Presence as exceptional, to be struck by it and, therefore, to adhere to what it says about Itself. It is a fact: it is a fact that has made the Christian emergence in the world possible. For the person, to adhere with one's own freedom means to accept what reason perceives as exceptional with simplicity, with that certain immediacy, as happens with the unassailable and indestructible evidence of factors and moments of reality, as they enter the horizon of one's own person" (L. Giussani, To Give One’s Life for the Work of Another, 2022).

It is the exceptional nature of Christ's presence, manifested at Cana in Galilee, that found acceptance in the hearts of those who had begun to follow him. We thus understand once again the truth of what Pope Francis repeats, that is, "Christianity is not transmitted by proselytism but by attraction" (Homily at Santa Marta, May 3, 2018), taking up an expression of Benedict XVI’s from his homily spoken on May 13, 2007 at the Shrine of Aparecida, at the inauguration of the V General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopate. This "attractive" – unarmed – method is how Christ proposes Himself to the human heart, so that the person may recognize Him as fully adequate to their real needs and requirements. We heard it in the book of Isaiah in the first reading "The hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants" (Is 66:14), the mystery of God is made recognizable by us, through that continuity of witnesses that is the holy faithful people of God, the Church.

Read also - "For many, Giussani was the angel of God"

The Gospels tell us that often this recognition had to be renewed in the disciples: this is how it is for us. Faith is not a personal conquest, an abstract truth understood once and for all; it lives in the recognition of the Lord Jesus among us, active and present as He was in Cana in Galilee. Starting from the life of Fr. Giussani himself, whose centenary of birth we remember, your history, even among us here in Florence, has not lacked these "exceptional", recognizable presences that have literally set you in motion, arousing the desire to be able to live the ordinary things of life, like its dramas, in a completely extraordinary, new way. The wine of Cana is the sign of that only authentic novelty capable of changing our lives and therefore history: the exceptional and attractive presence of Christ who proposes Himself to our need, to the recognition of our humanity. As Fr. Giussani prophetically intuited: " “In a society like this one, you cannot create something new unless you do so with your life: no structure or organization or initiative will hold up. Only a different and new life can revolutionize structures, initiatives, relationships, in sum, everything" (L. Giussani, Movimento, ‘regola’ di libertà [Movement, ‘rule’ of freedom’], edited by O. Grassi, Litterae communionis-CL, n. 11, November 1978, p. 44).

Dear brothers and sisters, as I entrust you and your history to the solicitous care of Our Lady of Lourdes, the invitation and the wish that I address to each of you is that you may continually allow yourselves to be moved by the desire to participate more and more in this new life that is Christ. For those of you who have had the grace of meeting men "seized by Christ", the words of Isaiah no longer sound like a remote prophecy about the future; they describe the certainty with which we are able to truly enter into the commitment and toil of each day, "when you see this, your heart will rejoice" (Is 66:14).