Share On

Matteo Zuppi

Catholic Archbishop, Italy
 biography
For the heavens are as high above earth as my ways are above your ways, my thoughts above your thoughts.
For, as the rain and the snow come down from the sky and do not return before having watered the earth, fertilising it and making it germinate to provide seed for the sower and food to eat,
so it is with the word that goes from my mouth: it will not return to me unfulfilled or before having carried out my good pleasure and having achieved what it was sent to do.
Yes, you will go out with joy and be led away in safety. Mountains and hills will break into joyful cries before you and all the trees of the countryside clap their hands.
Cypress will grow instead of thorns, myrtle instead of nettles. And this will be fame for Yahweh, an eternal monument never to be effaced.
Isaiah 55, 9-13
 
The prophet reminds us of a reality we often forget: the ways and the thoughts of God are above us. When we forget it, we grow in pride and we feel we have the right to command respect, we end up believing our thoughts to be the only ones. We always need to compare ourselves to the thoughts of God to find our own. We need to seek his ways in order to not be imprisoned in our own labyrinths and to not be lost in the confusion full of deceit and uncertainty of the world. Jesus reveals the thoughts of God to us. He, the Word, makes them flesh, presence, history within our history. Jesus is the thought of God, will of love and peace. Jesus is the way upon which tired and beaten sheep are led, because his will is for none of them to be lost. With Jesus, the thoughts and ways of God become our own, rather we are entrusted with them. They are always greater than our hearts and therefore our sins, and they remind us that we too are called to be the thought of God for humanity. Jesus wants us to be saints, man and women that reflect his love through their humanity. In order to do so, we cannot stay still. The path opens before us after we begin walking behind Him. Only through following, we understand where his home is, and only by breaking the bread, as little as it may be, it multiplies. Each in his or her own way. “The important thing is that each believer discern his or her own path, that they bring out the very best of themselves, the most personal gifts that God has placed in their hearts”. This impassions everyone to give his or her whole self. In the Gaudete et Exsultate (24), Pope Francis invites to recognize which word the Lord means to speak through each one of us:  “May you come to realize what that word is, the message of Jesus that God wants to speak to the world by your life. Let yourself be transformed. Let yourself be renewed by the Spirit, so that this can happen, lest you fail in your precious mission”.
 
Jesus answers the invocation from earth to Heaven that rises from those who do not want to give up, who do not surrender to the logic of evil, who do not cease seeking justice and future, who are waiting for protection and healing: “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence” (Is 63:19). We are called to be saints not because we are perfect. A Church that we do not love even in its sin is a pharisaic temptation. We need to better it with the personal sanctity of God’s gift, perfect only because it contains his love, confident not in its work but in its mercy that frees from evil.
 
As the rain disappears in the earth, yet we know it will not return without bearing fruit, so we entrust ourselves to his love. And we start walking, as the prophet calls us to, not because we have answers to everything, or because we understand it all, but only because we are full of his love. Like Saint Francis who flourished and became so rich in holy simplicity that, although he owned nothing of the things of the world, he appeared the owner of everything, because he had the very Author of this world. “Regarding the first origin of everything, he used to call every creature, as modest as it may have been, with the name of brother and sister”. “Animals felt drawn to him by a sense of piety; insensible beings obeyed his gesture, as if that saintly man, being humble and righteous, had already returned to the state of innocence”. This is the strength of the men and women of peace, of the pure of heart that free themselves from the opacity of evil and around whom many people see and gain the strength of peace. Francis lives the innocence of the origins, of original love, and that of man that becomes himself, as God created and conceived him. (1 Jn 3:20) “For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything”.
 
Jesus is the bridge joining the point each of us is with what is farthest, otherwise so unreachable that it would shock us, that is in Heaven: the heart of God. The essential truly is invisible. Martin Luther King said that we see the stars in the sky, but we do not see the invisible law of gravity that supports them and governs each of their motions.
 
The premise of the prophet is fertility. “It will not return to me empty”. This is why we start walking joyfully to be led back to peace. Yes, we too begin walking to build bridges that do not exist yet. We know that the mountains and hills before you will erupt in joyful cries and all the trees in the fields will clap their hands. We become men and women of Heaven by sowing his peace in everyone, with friendliness for everyone, by freeing from prejudices that condemn and that are seeds of violence and fear, by praying with the insistence of the inopportune widow that demands justice, by looking at everyone with sympathy, by stretching out our hand even if we do not know if the other will take it. God sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Mt 5:45) and we must learn from him to be his children. Rain has to disappear, as love seems lost at times, but it always bears fruit.
 
Our prayer is, then, “Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation may spring up, and let it cause righteousness to sprout up also”. Prayer does not return without achieving what we wished for. Nothing is impossible to those who have faith. We start walking as men and women of peace although around us there are many sirens of war, of cheap identities given away without history or faith. We do it because we know the Lord will bring us to fertilize the earth even in our mistakes. We all are poor people who need, at some time, “to not throw around artificial moons, but to look at how bridges are built, to avoid divisions among men and women, to see if we can make war never come back, because war, even when fought among people of the same tongue, same blood, same tradition, and same religion, is still fratricide”. Let us live as men and women of Heaven, so that many people can see in us the light of love that never sets and the beginning of the peace that God wants for all. Because his Word will not come back without having accomplished what it was sent for.