The Minister General to the Presidents of the Conferences: start again without switching off the passion

“At the conclusion of our meeting, we celebrate the Eucharist, thanking the Lord for the wonders he worked in our Saint Bernardine of Siena”. These are the words of Br Massimo Fusarelli, Minister General, speaking at the conclusion of the meeting of the Presidents of the OFM Conferences with the General Definitory and the Minister General, held in Rome from 17 to 20 May 2022.

Starting from the readings for the Feast of St Bernardine of Siena, Br Massimo Fusarelli said: “This word enlightens us at the end of our meeting”. He then presented the brothers with three insights: Peter’s proclamation (Acts 4:11-12), praise in St Bernardine, and the fire of the Spirit (Jn 14:16). Finally, he added: “We still found in the beautiful and tiring signs of our fraternity reasons to praise and bless the Lord’s name and invoke the Spirit so that he may always remain in us with his holy operation”.

Finally, he called on everyone not to switch off the passion, “but to start again with a quicker step, a greater trust, a sharper gaze, capable of the future”.

Here is the full text of the Minister General’s homily at the concluding Mass.

 

Homily on the Feast of St Bernardine of Siena

OFM Conference Presidents’ Meeting, 20 May 2022

 

At the conclusion of our meeting, we celebrate the Eucharist, thanking the Lord for the wonders he worked in our Saint Bernardine of Siena.

The word of God proclaimed gives us three pointers for praise and conversion.

The first is what Peter proclaims:

“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone”. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11-12).

Jesus saves us from the lowly position he chose by entering the world, a body the Lord prepared for him to do his will (cf. Heb 10:5-7). Jesus accepted the condition of the rejected from the beginning. We can say that he was comfortable with it; he loved the little ones, sinners, widows and women of ill repute, foreigners and even tax collectors. He was not afraid of anything human and welcomed it into his reality. This humanity of Jesus tells us of a God different from our representations. His glory is the humility of the last place, of the cast-off. And it is here that we find salvation. Not in what we know, can and want to do on our own, but in recognising ourselves as creatures, children who know how to ask and receive freely, not for their merits. St Bernardine discovered the Name of Jesus as the glory of Him who is humble; the rays that surround Him represent a sun that does not blind us but touches us and saves us, gives us meaning, and opens us up to life. Bernardine wanted to open this very door of true life to all.

The second pointer is that of praise.

St Bernardine discovered in the silence of the hermitage and in the crowded squares of colourful humanity that he loved and sought the sound of this humanity of Jesus and heard it in his name. With Psalm 144, he learnt to bless God’s name forever and to praise him. He came to know the name and the living person of the Lord Jesus in praise, thanksgiving and restitution. In his sermons, we still feel the breath of a man capable of experiencing the most human feelings and finding them in Jesus, receiving joy, peace and even humour. Bernardine did not frown on people. Radical, yes, in proposing the demands of the Gospel, but always attentive to the person and the work of God in him.

The third pointer is the fire of the Spirit.

“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you”. (Jn 14:16)

The Spirit remains with us and among us, witnessing to us the closeness of God, as intimate as it can take us beyond ourselves, towards others, towards the world and creatures, discovering in it the traces of God. St Bernardine walked the muddy streets, squares full of people, noisy markets, and the most miserable and beautiful places. He was able to discover the love of God that rests where his creature lives, rejoices and suffers. And Bernardine cried out to defend the dignity of people and save them from the greatest injustice and poverty, which is the forgetfulness of God. And the humble and fervent friar proclaimed to all that God never forgets us!

This word enlightens us at the end of our meeting.

We still found in the beautiful and tiring signs of our fraternity reasons to praise and bless the Lord’s name and invoke the Spirit so that he may always remain in us with his holy operation.

All this to make us still witnesses able to radiate the beauty of our vocation with the joy of faith. So many clouds obscure it, but we always want to recognise with gratitude the good that lives in us and return it to God and humanity with hope and dedication to the lives of so many, especially the poor.

St Bernardine opened a path of reform in our fraternity that continues to live in us, even in these difficult times. Evangelical reform, in the radicality of faith and in closeness to people, to everyone. So may he accompany us today not to switch off and resign ourselves, but to start again with a quicker step, a greater trust, a sharper gaze, capable of the future.

Br. Massimo Fusarelli