The homily of Apostolic Nuncio to Malawi, Gianfranco Gallone: “Do not be afraid Catholic Church in Malawi!”
Archbishop Thomas L. Msusa, welcome Speech on 12th October 2019: “The Church has always stood out as a voice for the poor, the helpless and the marginalized in the society.”
MULI BWANJI ABALE
NDI ALONGO ANGA OKONDEKA!
With great joy today, with this solemn celebration, I am going to officially begin my mission as an Apostolic Nuncio in Malawi, where the Holy Father, Pope Francis has sent me as his Representative so that I’m going to become a true visible sign of his pastoral solicitude and charity. We are living, with great commitment, in this month of October, which is an extraordinary missionary month. Its theme, “Baptized and sent”, should help us to rediscover the deep meaning of the imperishable mandate given by Jesus: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the time” (Mt 28, 19-20). Jesus gives to the eleven a mission that is universal; for all who have received baptism there is a call for evangelization. Because through Baptism we entered into the community of the Risen one, the Church, where the Gospel is alive.
Jesus today extends to us with the invitation he once made to Peter on the shore of the lake of Galilee: “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men!”. Do not be afraid Church of Christ in Malawi! The Lord invites you to make your faith fertile and to spread the seed of the Gospel with more strength and love! Jesus calls us and gives us a new program of life, proposing Him as a model. He reveals to us that the first priority must be given to the Word of God and to the true witnessing.
Jesus, in His obedience to the Father, came to help us to give the perfect glory to God and to continue his work of redemption in today’s history. To accomplish his mission, the Master of Galilee attracted the crowds by doing well the mandate He received from God the Father. In fact, Jesus came to instruct, enlighten, convert and heal all those who were oppressed by evil in body and spirit. St Paul says in his letter to the Galatians: “you are all one in Christ Jesus”! (Gal 3) Yes! Jesus is our Redeemer: He set us free from the slavery of deception, giving us the freedom of being the children of God. For this reason again the Apostle Paul writes in Letter to the Philippians: “conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil1, 27). As Christians and citizens, in this sensitive time which requires an effective witness of our faith, we are called by the events of history to be in front line, and not spectators, especially in the political events of the Country. But we have not to forget that we hold the Gospel in our hands and, above all, we hold it in our hearts and minds as a lamp that gives light to the steps of our personal and social life, as a measure for an authentic relationship with our neighbors. We know that our faith consists in a real and living relationship with the Risen Lord. We meet and recognize Him present in the life of the Catholic Church, in the Sacraments of Grace, in his living Word and in each of his brothers, who are excluded or suffering or marginalized (Mt 25). This is the time when we are called to increase our trust in Jesus. Do not lose hope children of God!
From Peter’s boat, yesterday and even today, Jesus addresses to us the Word! This same mission he shares with his disciples, who should always act in his name and be humble bearers of his Gospel.
In order to make them grow in confidence and mature in them an unlimited trust in the One who called them, Jesus invites Peter and the other fishermen who had spent the whole night without catching anything, to move away from the shore and take off there fishing nets.
Here comes the Lord’s command: “Put out to the deep and let your nets for a catch!” That was not the time to go fishing, but Simon Peter trusts Jesus and confesses: “but at your word I will draw down the nets for a catch”. Peter, who was an expert fisherman, gave his fishing nets to Jesus; they are no longer the nets of the fisherman of Capernaum, but the nets of Jesus who performs the miracle of an abundant catch.
…. The history of the Church bears witness to this because it is necessary, first of all, to give priority to Christ by experiencing the strength of his word of truth. In the name of Jesus the mission of the Church is fulfilled today and the miraculous great catch of fish still occurs in the same name. In his name the Father has made known his Salvation: “has shown his deliverance to the nations. He has remembered his merciful love and his truth for us”. In the name of Jesus as Church in Malawi we are sent to give an authentic testimony and guarantee the success of the mission through the power of the Word of Jesus.
If we rely on ourselves or on our own, the mission will be a failure, like the fishing of the apostles; if instead we trust the word of Jesus, our fishing will be abundant. Pope Francis reminds us of being docile to the words of God: “Be ever more docile to the Lord’s word; it is he, it is his word, it is following him that brings to fruition your commitment to witnessing…The word of the Lord has filled the nets and the word of the Lord makes the missionary work of his disciples effective”. The Christian community in its missionary endeavor must be uniquely rich in faith in the Word of God: it must not rely on anything else, it must not look for anything else, may be with the excuse of using it for the Gospel!
… We should also decide to trust the Lord who says: “do not be afraid”. Weakness is surpassed by the power of God. Pope Francis reminds us that Jesus “comes to the shores of the sea of our life, he makes himself close to our failures, our frailty, and our sins in order to transform them”.
… By completing some expressions of St. John Paul II, I tell you today: you the Church of Malawi “be a prophetic presence in the world, promoting those aspects of life that are often forgotten and therefore ever more urgent, such as interiority, silence, responsibility, education, gratuitous help, service, sobriety, fraternity, hope in tomorrow and love for life. Work effectively in order that today’s society may recover the true sense of man and his dignity, the value of life and the family, of peace and solidarity, of justice and mercy”.
In conclusion, as Christians we are called to be present in society not just because we are citizens, and we let the Christian sense of life shape us. If we are authentic citizens according the Gospel of Jesus we are bringing in the ordinary sense of life that which is a great mystery, the ineffable and the inexpressible life of the Holy Trinity. From the liturgical experience of every Sunday, where we are formed as good disciples of Jesus, we are sent to enlighten and to orient the others in favour of the solidarity manifested by Jesus. We have to build up the civil society, trying to give a Christian identity, in the perspective of God and not of other ideologies. In obedience to our vocation we will be sure that our social and civil work shall have an effective sense according to the Gospel, making the situations of history the parameter which is manifested in the love of God. Only in this way we will be free from every deception and we will have the opportunity to show the greatness of the holiness of our Baptism.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of Evangelization, give you new courage and the same fiery flame of her Immaculate Heart to maintain the Gospel not only with words but more especially with life.
MULUNGU DALITSANI MALAWI!