We make the climb to La Verna because we want to touch Christ’s wounds | Feast of the Stigmata,2018

Minister General, Br. Michael A. Perry delivered this homily at La Verna during the celebration of Mass for young people on the vigil of the Feast of the Stigmata of St.Francis, September 16th2018.

First of all, I would like to thank you for once again accepting the invitation to climb Monte della Verna this year. Let’s try to answer what it means to climb this holy mountain, what practical impact might the making such a journey have on our lives?

Climbing La Verna is climbing Calvary, which is the place that witnessed one of the greatest events in human history. Itis certainly the place of victory over sin and death, but before that it is the place of suffering and agony; it is the place of the death of the innocent. We climb La Verna because we want to touch the wounds of Christ— in other words,whatever causes pain, anguish, uncertainty,frequent discouragement and (why not?) a sense of failure. We climb this mountain because we want to understand the paradox that St. Paul offers us in his letter when he tells us that the only thing that we can boast about is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to us, and we to the world.

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In a world where exclusion and marginalization are the order of the day, where populist and xenophobic mentalities are increasing, and the geopolitical climate is fragile, it is urgent that we direct our gaze to the wounded Christ in order to combat the phantom of fear that hammers at our doors, preventing us from welcoming human beings in a spirit of solidarity. These people must leave their homelands to come into a new situation, against their will and for reasons that are little understood.

Let’s try to imagine that instead of those 177 people who were on the ship on August 20th last in Catania, we were the ones who had to suffer the indifference of the political arm-wrestling that was unmoved in the face of such pain. Imagine if we were living in a hellish exile where oppression, exploitation, and even loss of freedom, were all present. You surely heard that one of the rescued children was living in the dark for a whole year. Then, as if all this were not enough, it took five days to disembark these people while the whole world could see that the situation on the ship was becoming more and more critical. How would we have felt if we had to suffer all this? Could we have endured? Would we survive? I invite you to participate in an act of solidarity—putting ourselves in the shoes of those people soas to awaken within us feelings of pity and compassion.

Dear friends, this is one of the stigmata that today we are invited to acknowledge in our body. To paraphrase the words that Saint Paul gave us in the First Reading, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, nor does coming from this country or that country, being Europeans, Americans, or Africans, or being part of a robust and sustainable economic community; no, what matters is being a new creature. Be new creatures! Be men and women who can embrace with great love what the world wishes to discard, because they are seen by many as unwanted and a nuisance.

 

For the entire homily (in Italian), click here.