Monday, December 22, 2008

“Make the love of Christ visible”: a reflection by Cardinal Meisner

Cologne (Agenzia Fides) – Several months ago, I was in Germany for my research on the immigration phenomenon, as a guest of the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joachim Meisner. On Sunday, I took a tape recorder with me to tape his homily, which for various reasons I have decided to offer in their entirety. Just days away from the Birth of the Lord, the liturgy invites us to contemplate She who bore Him in her womb: the Blessed Virgin Mary, filled with the Love of God and the Holy Spirit, who did not hide this immense treasure, but set off on her way to help her cousin, because, as Cardinal Meisner affirms: "The one who has been touched by the love of God cannot remain sitting in his house, in the stairway of his home, but he sets off on his way." There is no need for lofty reflections in the debate over priests who no longer use the characteristic signs of their ministry, or on the question of abortion and in general on respect for life. They are words that fill the heart with love for God. The Truth changes us and we should not be afraid.

"The first daughter of Divine Love is Mary. She shows us how one can become a son or daughter of Divine Love. In Nazareth, the heart of the Mother of God opens itself and the Love of God, in the Holy Spirit, is poured into her heart. The one who has been touched by the love of God cannot remain sitting in his house, in the stairway of his home, but he sets off on his way. Mary leaves her house in Nazareth to go to the mountainous region of Galilee. Love, Divine Love, makes us free men, takes us out of ourselves, leads us to others. Mary was compelled by the love of Christ. Saint Paul says that the love of Christ compels us and thus, men who are compelled by the love of God are not tranquil or comfortable. They do not remain seated on their couch looking at their hands, but they set off on their way, because Love wants to become visible, be efficient.

Several weeks ago, I went to visit a community of religious sisters in Prague, and one of them told me a story of something that had happened to her. She was in the city, in the Wenzel Square, which is in the heart of the city, with her religious habit on, walking alongside a Franciscan priest dressed in plain clothes. A youth came up to her and said, "Sister, please give me your blessing!" The sister blessed him and when they began walking once more, she told the priest: "Father, your hands have been consecrated, anointed with oil at your priestly ordination, in order to bless. As the people cannot tell that you are a priest, they must seek a blessing from a sister that, thanks be to God, is still visible."

It gives me great joy when I see one of our religious sisters, one of those that cannot help but be seen, because in some way they make the love of Christ, the love of God, visible. People see a religious sister and thus they are reminded that they are called to meet God. Normally, one addresses a religious sister by calling her "Sister." We do not call any woman we see on the street "Sister." This proves that men perceive the mystery of a vocation. A daughter of Divine Love is a sister of all mankind, is my sister, and I have the right to her help, with her I know I am in good hands. Our Church would be impoverished if we did not have more vocations of women whom we can call "sisters," because they have become daughters of Divine Love. Mary was the first. When the Spirit of God takes possession of Mary, she goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth, to assist her in these difficult moments. The men marked by the love of God do not abandon one another, instead they help one another and when one knows that the other is in need of something, he goes and keeps him company. Thus, Mary goes to accompany Elizabeth and offer her assistance. Mary does not go alone, she goes to be present at John's birth as a monstrance, carrying Jesus within her.

If a mother carries a child within her and is visited by a friend, many children would begin to tremble, as the friend could say to the mother: "don't ruin your career...terminate this invasion of your privacy and you will be free again and you'll be able to earn your own keep." Unfortunately, in our day there are many women who hear this advice. And yet, where the Spirit of God dwells, children are not aborted and people who reach a ripe old age are not rejected by society. There, life continues to be a joyful occurrence, because the Holy Spirit is the Giver of life and where the Spirit of God is, there is always a cause for celebration.

Our Church, the Gospel...this has all left its mark on society, in regards to the life of the unborn and that of the elderly. Where there is life, there is love; and where there is love, there is God. When Mary entered Elizabeth's house, carrying Jesus inside her, Elizabeth spoke the first Marian antiphon in the history of the Church: "Blessed are you, Mary, because you believed." And when Mary hears these words, she also begins to sing the most beautiful hymn of the Church: the Magnificat. Where God's love shines forth, one cannot remain silent, as the heart and the mouth are opened in praise to God. (From Cologne, Luca de Mata)

(Agenzia Fides 19/12/2008)