15 Feb Open our hearts to the novelty that God offers | The General Minister’s Homily for the visit in Brazil and the Southern Cone
On February 12, 2018, the General Minister, Br. Michael Anthony Perry, shared the following words during the opening Mass of the meeting between the two conferences (Brazil and the Southern Cone) in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
Dear brothers and sisters, the Lord give you peace!
“Why does this generation ask for a sign?” One of the greatest difficulties that humans have is our uncontrollable desire to have an absolute confirmation of what we call truth. And the greater our lack of imagination and wonder, the more we seek clarity, even extraordinary, signs to confirm something that, in many cases, we know is true, but for one reason or another we refuse to accept.
In today’s gospel, it happens that way.
“Jesus sighs deeply,” probably out of frustration and sorrow at such a great blindness. and he concludes, “No sign will be given to this generation!” He left them and went to the other side of the lake. It’s no use showing a nice painting to those who don’t want to open their eyes. Those who close their eyes cannot see!
So what does it take for each of us to open our hearts to the novelty that God is looking to offer to the world, to the church and to us that we are friars minor in these times of tremendous change and in these regions of the order?
St. Francis of Assisi offers us a way to move forward. In his testament to the brethren he reveals how the disciples of Jesus must respond in faith to what God is asking of each one of them. It is not a matter of knowledge, although we must study the signs of the times, as the Second Vatican Council reminded us. Nor is it a matter of having control over everything, as if power were the key to a deeper faith. This is something that governments and even the Church, the Order must still learn.
Let’s now hear the words of St. Francis, who received a new vision of God and a new vision of humanity, which led him to embrace Jesus, lepers and all people and nature as brothers and sisters in a completely new and liberated way.
“The Lord gave to me, Brother Francis, thus to begin to do penance; for when I was in sin it seemed to me very bitter to see lepers, and the Lord Himself led me amongst them and I showed mercy to them. And when I left them, that which had seemed to me bitter was changed for me into sweetness of body and soul. And afterwards I remained a little and I left the world.”