AT THE DIOCESE OF PIAZZA ARMERINA AND DI PALERMO
ON THE OCCASION OF THE 25th ANNIVERSARY OF DEATH
OF BLESSED PINO PUGLISI
CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY MASS IN THE LITHURGICAL MEMORY OF THE BEATO PINO PUGLISI
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER
Foro Italico (Palermo)
Saturday, September 15th 2018
Today God speaks to us of victory and defeat. In the first reading Saint John presents faith as "the victory that has conquered the world" (1 Jn 5.4), while in the Gospel he quotes the sentence of Jesus: "He who loves his life loses it" (Jn 12.25 ).
This is the defeat: he loses who loves his life. Because? Certainly not because you have to hate life: life must be loved and defended, it is God's first gift! What leads to defeat is to love one's own life, that is, to love one's own. Who lives for his own loses, is an egoist, we say. It would seem the opposite. Those who live for themselves, those who multiply their turnover, those who succeed, those who fully satisfy their needs appear to be winning in the eyes of the world. Advertising is pounding us with this idea - the idea of seeking one's own, of selfishness - and yet Jesus does not agree with it. According to him who lives for himself does not just lose something, but the whole life; while those who give themselves find the meaning of life and win.
So there is something to choose from: love or selfishness. The egoist thinks of caring for his life and is attached to things, money, power, pleasure. Then the devil has doors open. The devil "enters from the pockets", if you are attached to money. The devil makes believe that everything is fine but in reality the heart is anesthetized with selfishness. Selfishness is a very powerful anesthesia. This way always ends badly: in the end you remain alone, with emptiness inside. The end of the selfish is sad: empty, alone, surrounded only by those who want to inherit. It is like the grain of the Gospel: if it remains closed in itself it remains underground only. If instead it opens and dies, it bears fruit on the surface.
But you could tell me: to give oneself, to live for God and for others is a great effort for nothing, the world does not revolve like that: to get ahead you do not need grains of wheat, you need money and power. But it is a great illusion: money and power do not free man, make him a slave. You see: God does not exercise power to solve our and the world's ills. His way is always that of humble love: only love liberates within, gives peace and joy. This is why true power, the power according to God, is service. Jesus says so. And the strongest voice is not that of those who shout more. Prayer is the strongest voice. And the greatest success is not its fame, like the peacock, no. The greatest glory, the greatest success is one's own testimony.
Dear brothers and sisters, today we are called to choose which side to be: living for oneself - with the closed hand [makes the gesture] - or giving life - the open hand [makes the gesture]. Only by giving life is evil defeated. A high price, but only in this way [defeats evil]. Don Pino taught him: he did not live to be seen, he did not live in anti-Mafia appeals, nor was he content to do nothing wrong, but he sowed good, so well. His seemed a logical loser, while the logic of the portfolio seemed to win. But Father Pino was right: the logic of the god-money is always a loser. Let's look inside. Having always pushes to want: I have one thing and immediately I want another, and then another and more and more, without end. The more you have, the more you want: it's a bad addiction. It's a bad addiction. It's like a drug. Those who swell with things break out. On the other hand, those who love find themselves and discover how beautiful it is to help, how beautiful it is to serve; finds joy inside and a smile outside, as it was for Don Pino.
Twenty-five years ago, like today, when he died on his birthday, he crowned his victory with a smile, with that smile that did not sleep his killer at night, who said: "there was a kind of light in that smile" . Father Pino was helpless, but his smile conveyed the strength of God: not a blinding glare, but a gentle light that digs in and clears the heart. It is the light of love, of gift, of service. We need many smile priests. We need Christians to smile, not because they take things lightly, but because they are rich only in the joy of God, because they believe in love and live to serve. It is giving life that joy is found, because there is more joy in giving than in receiving (cf. Acts 20:35). So I would like to ask you: do you want to live like that too? Do you want to give your life, without waiting for others to take the first step? Do you want to do good without waiting for the exchange, without waiting for the world to become better? Dear brothers and sisters, do you want to risk on this road, risk for the Lord?
Don Pino, he did, he knew he was in danger, but he knew above all that the real danger in life is not to risk, it is to live in some way between comfort, schemes and shortcuts. God frees us from living on the downside, contenting ourselves with half-truths. The half-truths do not satisfy the heart, they do not do good. God free us from a small life, which revolves around the "petioles". Free us from thinking that everything is fine if it suits me well, and the other gets along. Free us from believing we are right if we do nothing to counter injustice. Those who do nothing to counteract injustice are not just men or women. Free us from believing we are good only because we do not do anything wrong. "It is a good thing - said a saint - not to do evil. But it is bad thing not to do good "[S. Alberto Hurtado]. Lord, give us the desire to do good; to seek the truth detesting falsehood; to choose sacrifice, not laziness; love, not hate; forgiveness, not revenge.
Life is given to others, life is given to others, it can not be removed. One can not believe in God and hate his brother, take away life with hatred. The first reading recalls this: "if one says," I love God "and hates his brother he is a liar" (1 Jn 4:20). A liar, because the faith that he claims to have lies, the faith he professes God-love. God-love repudiates all violence and loves all men. Therefore the word hatred must be erased from the Christian life; therefore one can not believe in God and overwhelm his brother. You can not believe in God and be mafia. Who is a mafia does not live as a Christian, because blasphemy with his life the name of God-love. Today we need men and women of love, not of men and women of honor; of service, not of overwhelming. We need to walk together, not to chase power. If the mafia litany is: "You do not know who I am", the Christian one is: "I need you". If the mafia threat is: "You will pay it to me", the Christian prayer is: "Lord, help me to love". Therefore to the mafiosi I say: change, brothers and sisters! Stop thinking about yourself and your money. You know, you know, that "the shroud has no pockets". You can not bring anything with you. Convert yourselves to the true God of Jesus Christ, dear brothers and sisters! I say to you, mafiosi: if you do not do this, your life will be lost and it will be the worst of the defeats.
Today the Gospel ends with Jesus' invitation: "If one wants to serve me, follow me" (v.26). Follow me, that is, start walking. You can not follow Jesus with ideas, we must get busy. "If everyone does something, a lot can be done," Don Pino repeated. How many of us put these words into practice? Today, before him, let us ask ourselves: what can I do? What can I do for others, for the Church, for society? Do not wait for the Church to do something for you, you begin. Do not wait for the company to do it, you start! Do not think of yourself, do not run away from your responsibility, choose love! Feel the life of your people in need, listen to your people. Be afraid of the deafness of not listening to your people. This is the only possible populism: listening to your people, the only "Christian populism": to hear and serve the people, without shouting, accusing and provoking disputes.
So did Father Pino, poor among the poor of his land. In his room the chair where he was studying was broken. But the chair was not the center of life, because he was not sitting down to rest, but he lived on the road to love. Here is the winning mentality. Here is the victory of faith, born of the daily gift of self. Here is the victory of faith, which brings the smile of God on the roads of the world. Here is the victory of faith, born of the scandal of martyrdom. "No one has greater love than this: to give his life for his friends" (Jn 15:13). These words of Jesus, written on the tomb of Don Puglisi, remind everyone that giving life was the secret of his victory, the secret of a beautiful life. Today, dear brothers and sisters, we too choose a beautiful life. So be it.