On the Feast of the Epiphany, the Minister General blesses Rome from Ara Coeli

On 6 January, the Minister General, Br Massimo Fusarelli, accompanied by the Vicar General, Br Isauro Ulises C. Linfati and several Definitors, went to the Basilica of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli in Rome to celebrate Mass on the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. He also imparted the traditional blessing to the city of Rome with the statue of the Child Jesus, so dear to the people of Rome.

The Minister was welcomed by the Provincial of the Province of St Bonaventure of the Friars Minor of Abruzzo-Lazio, Br Luciano De Giusti, and some friars of the Province, the civil authorities of the City of Rome and many pilgrims and tourists who had climbed the Capitoline hill.

In his homily, the Minister invited those present to welcome the Word, addressed to all: “all peoples, all men and women on earth, are called to enter into the promise, to become one people, to be at home in the Gospel” and, in the form of a prayer, looking at the Magi, he added: “Together we welcome the Magi in this basilica, located in the heart of Rome, which has witnessed for centuries its lively civil and religious life with its many ups and downs. We ask for their ability to live in the city and its life without remaining prisoners, avoiding the reasoning of a self-sufficient power isolated from people’s lives, building relationships and always looking for potential ways, open roads for the common good”.

At the end of the Mass, the Minister General imparted the Blessing, with the statue of the Child Jesus, to those present in the Basilica and then to the City of Rome from the top of the hill.

Br Simone Castaldi, Vicar of Ara Coeli, expressed his and the Province’s joy in welcoming Br Massimo on such an important day for the City of Rome: “We are proud to see a son of the former Roman Province, now the Province of St Bonaventure. It is a bit trivial to say, but we are proud. We are delighted to see Br Massimo….. a person who can speak a word of hope and of the future; a person who can give us a perspective.”

 

Homily Epiphany of the Lord
Aracoeli, 6 January 2022

“The Gentiles have become fellow-heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel”. (Eph 3:6)

On this solemn day that marks Christmas in a blaze of light, let us welcome this word that gives us a great breath of fresh air: all peoples, all men and women on earth, are called to enter into the promise, to become one people, to be at home in the Gospel.

This does not mean that we will extend our sphere of influence everywhere, but that God is the first missionary. He wants this for his creatures: to make them one family, united, capable of generating life and opening up to that future which is the crucified and risen Christ, living in the Spirit.

The centre of the mission remains the Lord and not us, the church. What gratuitousness of the proclamation and reception of the Gospel!

We have experienced the joy of the Good News, and we offer it to many. We bear witness to its salvific power and the possibility that it provides a new life capable of generating a new humanity. And we know that the ways to welcome this newness do not depend on us. They ask us not to possess the mission but serve it, always remaining its first recipients.

All this is offered to us in the form of a promise. It is not a lab-made programme, nor a project to be realised at all costs. Instead, it is the golden thread that binds history together and which we believers can only trace by learning to walk as pilgrims among the people, the men and women of our blessed and challenging time. On one condition: that, like the Magi, we learn to question, to seek, to ask, as if to represent those who walk in faith and yet long for the vision: “they sought Christ in order to adore him” (St Augustine);

their “joy was born of love for him” (St John Chrysostom).

St Francis understood this mission logic well when he told the friars to live among those who have a different faith and proclaim that God is creator and saviour when they see that it pleases him (RnB XVI, 1-2).

In the first place is the evangelical life to which we are called, the life shared with many. Through this, we seek out the seeds of good sown in the world and are continually accompanied by the Spirit in their gradual and constant growth.

The mission has to do with this care, this vigilance, such a love for what is human, which allows us to glimpse the presence and action of the God who creates and preserves his good creation and saves us in a word.

Together we welcome the Magi in this basilica, located in the heart of Rome, which has witnessed for centuries its lively civil and religious life with its many ups and downs. We ask for their ability to live in the city and its life without remaining prisoners, avoiding the reasoning of a self-sufficient power isolated from people’s lives, building relationships and always looking for potential ways, open roads for the common good.

This is what we are being asked to do by these difficult times, by the call to a renewed civil solidarity, which for us Christians knows the meaning and strength of charity.

If the temptation of power is to close in on itself and to eliminate those who seek different paths, God’s wisdom leaves ways open through small signs, manifests visions and dreams, makes stars and lights shine that we could never light up on our own.

May the Holy Child who for centuries has sustained and nourished the hope of the Romans here in Aracoeli and of the many peoples of the world who still look to him and experience his blessing tenderness, grant us this. Amen.

Br Massimo Fusarelli, ofm
Minister General