Homily for the Conclusion of the 2019 Meeting with the Visitators General

The 2019 Meeting between the Minister General and General Definitory and the Visitators General was held from the 18th to the 22nd of November at the OFM General Curia.

At the Concluding Mass, the Vicar General, Br. Julio César Bunader, shared these words:

We conclude the meeting of General Visitators with the celebration of the Eucharist, and we do it as we began in this church (templo) with the celebration of the Eucharist. It is precisely the “temple” theme that inspires us in the liturgy of the Word.  In the passage from the book of the Maccabees (4:36-37. 52-59), we hear of the consecration of the temple by Judas.  And the Gospel of Luke (19:45-48),  relates the expelling of the merchants from the temple.

Let us meditate, firstly, on the “meaning of the temple”, understood as a place to adore God and a meeting place for the community. Secondly, on the “spiritual temple”, because the community is made up of people who are themselves dwellings of the Holy Spirit; finally, let us remember the memorial of St. Cecilia, to sing a new song to God.

We refer to the “meaning of the temple”. In the time of Judas Maccabeus after the destruction of the temple during the wars, victory is achieved. And the temple is consecrated and purified once again. Judas and his brothers said: “ Now that our enemies have been defeated, let us go up to purify the sanctuary and dedicate it” (1 Mac 4:36). Purification and a new consecration because the pagans had used the sanctuary for their worship.

Therefore, purifying and consecrating the temple because it is the place to give glory to God. That is the meaning of Judas Maccabeus’ gesture: the temple is the place where the assembled community meets to pray, praise the Lord, give thanks and worship. In fact, in the temple, the Lord is adored, and this is valid for every church (templo) and every liturgical ceremony.

As the Evangelist Luke tells us, Jesus also purifies the temple. He “casts out” (Lk 19:45) the pagan attitudes of the merchants who were selling and had transformed the temple into small businesses. Jesus purifies the temple by rebuking when he says: “It is written: My house shall be a house of prayer” (Lk 19:46) and not for anything else. The temple is a sacred place. And we must enter into the sacredness that leads us to adoration.

We speak of the “spiritual temple”. St. Paul tells us that we are temples of the Holy Spirit: “Do you not know that the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?” (1 Cor 6:19); that is, that each one is a temple and that the Spirit of God is within me. This is why he reminds us: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God with the way you live” (Eph 4:30).

In this sense, we speak of adoration in ourselves, in our heart, when we make room and give interior space to the Spirit of the Lord. For this to happen, we too must continually purify ourselves because we are sinners: purify ourselves with prayer, with penance, with the sacrament of reconciliation.

We remember the words of Francis of Assisi: “Above all things, we must desire to have the Spirit of the Lord and his holy operation, to pray to him always with a pure heart” (Rb 10:8), so that God may be the absolute of life. And “to those whom the Lord has given the grace to work, let them work faithfully and devotedly, so that, excluding idleness, the enemy of the soul, they do not extinguish the spirit of holy prayer and devotion, which other temporal things must serve” (Rb 5:1-2). To overcome external practices or religious acts, where “holy prayer and devotion” disposes us to worship God, so that any work or occupation may be an expression of consecration to God.

Finally, “a new song”. The memorial of the martyr St. Cecilia, chosen as the patroness of musicians, is an invitation so that the music we listen to resounds in each person and in our heart, especially that we sing to the Lord interiorly. In the Office of Readings of the memorial, St. Augustine invites us to deepen the need to sing with art, with joy and with a new song.

In harmony with the saint, we recognize the value of helping each brother and fraternity not to “sing” for themselves or personal satisfaction, but that instead, we can always sing a new song for the Lord with joy, in fraternal harmony and authentic witness. Stripped of all that is old, to be new men, renewed by grace. Today we are invited to be witnesses of a faith, accompanied by the harmony of a lifestyle able to sing the song of love, forgiveness, fraternity, minority, hospitality and inclusion.

Brothers let us pray for each Brother Visitator and for the service of visiting the material temple, such as friaries, buildings, churches, etc., and the spiritual temple, that of each brother, of the fraternity, of women and men of the people of God. These are the places where we praise God and celebrate the centrality of the experience of God. Draw near with your senses alert, to discover the signs of the Lord’s presence. Be instruments of the Lord so that “the temple” may be fit for worship and so that each brother may sing a new song with joy.