Sunday, January 24, 2016,
Mass at Akamasoa was celebrated once again with great joy,
after two Sundays when we baptized 419 children.
The church was full.
In our church we just raise the roof and that gave more light in our space of prayer and gathering.
Now we can see the multitude of brothers and sisters who gather every Sunday to hear the word of God and receive the body of Christ.
For more picture click on image
The Gospel, I read this Sunday, precisely concerned the beginning of Jesus' public action:
after his baptism in the Jordan, Jesus returned to Galilee in his hometown of Nazareth and, on the Sabbath, he entered in the synagogue where he is given the book of Isaiah and he makes reading.
By opening this book, he reads the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed, he sent me carried the gospel to the poor, to announce captives release, they find the blind sight, to release the oppressed and to proclaim the year of grace given by the Lord.
And he adds: Today was fulfilled that passage of scripture that you just heard (Lk 4, 18).
I was so happy to hear this message that will be the life of Jesus of the program, and I followed in the priesthood.
This Jesus Friend of the poor, liberating Jesus, that Jesus full of humility and courage that brings freedom to the oppressed that attracted me from the age of 15-16 years.
This Sunday, I went to sit in the middle of the crowd, and that is, as Jesus did, among the people of Akamasoa I made my homily, eyes closed to draw more concentration and more deeply understand these words of the Gospel.
I think the first homily of Jesus in a synagogue, before the people, is the shortest of all the homilies that he will deliver.
An example for us priests not to dream or add sentences literary, theological or even scientific, that we often do to seduce the audience, when in fact it is the Holy Spirit that should inspire us and speak through us .
When the Spirit speaks, just a few very concrete phrases from everyday life so that the faithful are realized within their heart and mind.
I then told my 7000 brothers present at the Eucharist:
"Dear brothers, when he spoke to his brothers in Nazareth, Jesus had no distinctive habit. He did not stay at the lectern to address the crowd from the top down, but he went to sit among the people which he emerged to say: today is the Scriptures are accomplished. "
The humility of Jesus son of God made man, who did not come with the force of power nor money, nor any prestige, but with the power of the Spirit with which he was anointed by God, testify to the Truth and Love.
It comes to my mind that the God of Jesus is a God who surprises us all the time, a God who travels with his people, a God that can not be assigned to fix or permanent residence in any century or retain in a temple, so beautiful it is, because no temple can not shut his Spirit of love and freedom.
And I can not forget the words of Jesus to the Samaritan woman, the words that struck me at a young age: But the time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks (John 4: 21-23).
I realized this Sunday, sitting in the middle of this people of God, including myself, that the novelty brought by Jesus was so great that no generation could not grasp or understand it fully. And this innovation is called to relive in every generation, until the end of the world, when it will take place.
This novelty, we the baptized in Christ's name, we have never really assimilated into our mind and heart, we have never fully put into practice, because we hesitate, we are afraid and ashamed of what people will think and say; because it also bothers to expose, because the injustices caused exclusions and defend the oppressed brings troubles and persecution of our brothers in faith, Syria and Iraq demonstrate, we prefer to keep a low profile and "have peace."
This new Jesus who appears in this reading, we will try all our lives and generations to come will do the same.
But I felt that Sunday, with this people, such a communion, a joy that's hard to describe, but I lived for nearly three hours, during the time we have together listened to the speech God and celebrated the Eucharist.
Before finishing my homily, I asked all the brothers and sisters present to put their right hand on the shoulder of their brother next door, and thus constitute a chain of friendship to feel that we all do together the body of Christ, the Church alive today, here and now. A gesture can mean sometimes much more than words unity. And we know how much we need this unity, this friendship and this communion at the Eucharist. At this time, the joy of children and faithful present was palpable because a spirit hovering above but also within each of us.
Thus at the end of the Mass, a Malagasy sister missionary in Cleveland (USA), said, when we gave him the microphone: I felt here as in heaven. Another sister, Congolese, passing through Akamasoa added: I did not know that such a place existed, a place with such joy. And a French family after Mass outside the front door if in France there was much joy in a mass, people would come to pray.
In all humility, I would say to my brother priests: when we preside the Eucharist, it is by grace, and only by free grace given by God, without any merit on our part.
It is not we priests, but Jesus who meets the meeting of brothers and sisters who are all disciples of Jesus baptized in his name, all of which have also received the anointing of the Holy Oil (HC), that particular sacrament to all Christians, and that has made this nation a nation of priests, prophets, a royal people.
Why have we, we the priests, so remote from the people of God, creating a gap between the people and the priests, when both are one single body without any distance?
This distance was not willed by Christ, but these are the men that we have created, with the pagan culture mentality remained in us. Many pagan cults, indeed, are grafted to our liturgy, we have made sacred to the extreme, making the people of God a bystander, watching without participating, which is there to accomplish a presence of law in Lord's day. And this is perhaps one of the reasons why many churches are emptied of their faithful, since we felt so little friendship, brotherhood and communion in our Eucharist.
We have no magic formula to attract and convince people who are also away from the grace and love of God, temptations are great, those of money, power and misunderstood sex, which we are all lean toward selfishness, every man for himself and indifference, and then make it difficult for people to turn to prayer and adoration of the God of Love.
Everyone we priests and all the faithful, we need personal conversion to follow Jesus. Never and nowhere in the world, it will be easy to attract people to accept and live the gospel. For it is always a renunciation of oneself to do an acceptance effort the other as his brother, even other race, culture and civilization, and a gift of his life for him who love; and it will never be easy.
But we know from experience that where there is joy, participation, wealth sharing and brotherhood, people come on their own. But this joy, this brotherhood are created with imagination and effort, misunderstanding and pain.
Jesus has been there, it was challenged, insulted and misunderstood, but he persevered to the cross where He suffered and assumed all the ills that are attacking humans. He defeated in his own flesh the evil that is the formidable opponent of all human beings.
And it is from his resurrection that everything has changed, because all we are saved through the resurrection that was given to us as a free gift of God's love for each of his children, these children we are. And this resurrection which we celebrate every Sunday must really look like a resurrected community: such a community has a happy face, radiant, full of joy and hope, brotherhood and love, all that must be read on the faces of brothers and sisters present. Of course this can be as beautiful wishes, but there are places on our earth where such communities exist.
That's what we try to do to Akamasoa with young people, children and adults, with all the brothers and sisters tourists who come from different nations every Sunday for 20 years. And every Sunday, it is a new liturgy, a new life from God that we try to live and understand in our heart and mind.
Every Sunday we live the newness of the Word of God and the Spirit of Jesus to Akamasoa.
In all humility and simplicity, we say as Jesus said to his apostles: come and see.