05 Jan The Minister General visits the Province of Sicily
“We are sinners but with a desire to walk with Jesus. We are poor, inconsistent and sinful. But we want to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, never tiring of having great desires. Let us renew our yes to the Lord so that, with the help of his poor Mother, we may follow his footsteps, welcome his form, live in his friendship, live as ‘emptied’, as brothers and as minors”. These were the words of Br Massimo Fusarelli, Minister General, in his homily delivered in Baida, Palermo, on 3 January on the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus and the occasion of the three-day Fraternal Visit to the Sicilian Province of the Holy Name of Jesus.
The Minister General was welcomed by Brother Antonino Catalfamo, Provincial of Sicily, who shared the expectations of the Province: “in addition to the joy of having the new General in the Province, we are celebrating 80 years of the unification of the Province from 1941 to 2021, the closing of the anniversary year and, among other things, we are preparing for our intermediate Chapter in May”.
The Minister met with the friars in assembly, dealing with the topics of the next Provincial Chapter, which will take place in May. Br Massimo also met with the Poor Clares of the Federation of Sicily in Caltanissetta.
The Province of the Holy Name of Jesus of Sicily was created in 1941 by merging the existing five Sicilian Provinces.
Full text of the Minister General’s homily in Baida:
Province of the Holy Name of Jesus in Sicily
Baida (PA), homily of 3 January 2022
St. Paul tells us: “Have the same sentiments as Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the state of God, did not consider it a privilege to be like God, but emptied himself by assuming the condition of a servant” (Phil 2, 5-7). For us Friars Minor, this means entering into Christ’s way of seeing, judging, loving, walking and choosing. St Francis would say: to remain in his footsteps, welcome his form, and allow ourselves to be transformed by it.
What is the form of Christ? That of a God who, out of love, emptied himself. Each of us, Friars Minor, following in the footsteps of Jesus, is called to live without anything of our own, to “empty ourselves”. The centre is not us, but the form of Christ, incarnate, crucified and resurrected for us, who leads us to our true “self” to return our life, given to Him, who is the Supreme Good.
To make this journey, we are called to learn not to live centred on ourselves because the centre of each of us and of the fraternity is Christ, the Gospel of the Father, and his pilgrim Church with and among many, without walls or barriers, open to recognising the good that the Spirit is already sowing in the world.
And God is the Deus humilis, semper minor, the God who always surprises us. This means that we cannot reduce our faith experience to what we already know. The Lord goes beyond us. He takes us further; he asks us to leave an opening to his mystery in our world and not to shut down our search, our longing for him, the restlessness of our hearts, minds and feelings.
In short, it means becoming men of faith, pilgrims and strangers, passionate lovers, brothers and minors, fellow travellers of the little ones and the poor.
Does not celebrating the Name of Jesus mean for us today confessing the primacy of the form of Christ for our lives, letting the Spirit of the Lord shape our humanity, setting us on a journey of intelligence, feelings, will and feet?
Does not celebrating the Name of Jesus mean for us today learning once again to “dream” like Joseph, the just man? Dreaming of the “God who saves” and does not limit himself to healing us, making us well, healing wounds?
Dreaming in this way to serve, in the footsteps of Joseph, the guardian of Jesus’ way of life, the servant who gives everything and lives without anything of his own.
Dreaming in this way to set out towards new lands and learning to seek the face of God in new horizons, unfrequented, that can make us seekers, restless, eager for a new step.
Dreaming in this way to find new words to announce that Jesus is the Lord, the Saviour, the Life.
Dreaming like this to nurture great desires: Pope Francis said, “An authentic faith always involves a profound desire to change the world. Here is the question we must ask ourselves: do we also have great vision and impetus? Are we also daring? Do our dreams fly high? Does zeal consume us (cf. Ps 68:10)? Or are we mediocre and satisfied with our “made in the lab” apostolic programmes? Let us always remember: the Church’s strength does not reside in herself and in her organisational abilities, but it rests hidden in the deep waters of God. And these waters stir up our aspirations and desires expanding the heart”. (Homily 3 January 2014)
We are sinners but with a desire to walk with Jesus. We are poor, inconsistent and sinful. But we want to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, never tiring of having great desires. Let us renew our yes to the Lord so that, with the help of his poor Mother, we may follow his footsteps, welcome his form, live in his friendship, live as ‘emptied’, as brothers and as minors.
And thus be freed from the fear of anticipating death, abandonment, the yes of the gift of ourselves, to find ourselves and enter into Life.
And thus find fruitful the womb of our existence and that of many. Happy New Year, brothers, in the sign of this Name, of this dream, of this love, of the steps of the journey that has attracted our life forever. Amen.
Br Massimo Fusarelli