Invited to build new bridges of communion
Homily of the mass of 12 May 2019 at the Church of Saint Paul in Berlin
Dear brothers and sisters,
The image that Jesus uses in today's Gospel-that of the sheep who recognize the voice of the master as the Shepherd knows his flock-this image expresses a familiarity, even an intimacy, peculiar to the disciples of Christ. This friendship with Christ is animated by prayer and by the practice of charity in our daily lives. The familiarity with Christ renews the person. We are shaped by this intimacy that is not only transmitted in "values" or "convictions"! no! We are "new creature" and we believe that, through baptism, our soul, our whole being, is regenerated! Regenerated for eternity.
We are here in Berlin who, for 19 years, is again the capital of reunified Germany. For more than 40 years, this country has been cut in half and, from one day to the next, families no longer had the right to see each other! Berlin was the symbol of this cruelty, especially since the construction in 1961, not far from here, of what was called the "anti-fascist protection wall"!
In 2019 we remember the fall of the wall thirty years ago. For us, the Germans, it's a real miracle! This revolution began in the churches and it remained peaceful! We always give thanks to God that he has freed us from this misfortune which is the division between brothers!
Since that date, we have been rebuilding our unity that had been torn apart after World War II. This reconstruction is not easy because the Nazi ideology had opened the abyss to mankind, creating an inhuman pseudo-religion to which, alas, many people have succumbed!
The European elections will soon take place. And we, as Christians, are challenged to make a choice! How can the Gospel inspire us? How can we remain faithful to the will of the Lord who takes care of our humanity, consoles, comforts, reassures, strengthens and gives life to it? As Jean Vanier, who died a few days ago, founder of L’Arche, a community also present in Germany, has done! How to live this life that he gave us by his death and resurrection?
I am deeply convinced that our common history, marked by too much blood, can still encourage us and give hope! Is the reconciliation of the hereditary enemies, France and Germany, not proof that forgiveness is possible? That the spirit acted in the hearts of our ancestors? That this Christian soul could not be destroyed by any totalitarian regime?
This means that still today we are invited to exclude no one! To practice hospitality with the most fragile! To build new bridges of communion. Our culture in Europe has been profoundly marked by the Christian faith. Let us continue, therefore, to give him flesh by our deeds!
I myself have a European history. I was born in Germany. My parents are Italian immigrants. I lived in Paris and Rome, and now I am in Berlin, a young and sparkling city, where Christians have become a minority.
Pope Francis, in his speech to the European Parliament in 2014, referred to the ancient idea that Christians represented "in the world what is the soul in the body". At the time he had invited MEPs "to work for Europe to rediscover its good soul", because according to the Pope "resignation and fatigue are not part of the soul of Europe."
This is our vocation! More than ever we, Christians, we are called to be the soul of Europe and we can be to the intimacy of Christ with us! Jesus said, "my father, who has given them to me, is greater than anything, and no one can tear them from the father's hand." Dear brothers and sisters, no one will be able to tear us out of the father's hand! This good Easter issue gives us the joy of following our vocation which is to live in the intimacy of Christ, to testify this living faith, to be truly the good soul of Europe!
This is our experience here in Berlin, after the horrors of the last war and totalitarianism! In communion with our brothers and sisters in France and throughout Europe we pray today that Christ will give us the courage to manifest the love of God and the strength of reconciliation, the heart of the Gospel!
Brother Max Cappabianca, Dominican