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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Cardinal Franc Rodé: “Being Christian Is a Gift.”
Homily in the closing Mass of the 4th Youth and Family Encounter in Brazil, December 14, 2008.

Card. Franc Rodé
Cardinal Franc Rodé greets the Bishop Emeritus of Campo Limpo, Bishop Emilio Pignoli.

Brasilia, December 15, 2008. Cardinal Franc Rodé, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, celebrated the closing Mass for the 4th Youth and Family Encounter in Brazil, which was held from December 12 to 14, 2008. Over 2,000 people gathered for the YFE and for the final Mass, including Legionaries of Christ and members and friends of the Regnum Christi Movement.

A complete English translation of the cardinal’s homily, which was originally given in Portuguese, is offered below.

Dear Fr Álvaro, dear brother priests, dear members of the Regnum Christi Movement, and all brothers and sisters in the Lord:

            We are concluding this Youth and Family Encounter with the celebration of the Eucharist, which today gives us a message of joy. The liturgy is a constant invitation to be joyful. In the readings, Isaiah, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Paul, and St John the Baptist complement each other to explain the deep meaning of Christian joy, each one with his or her own nuances.

            In the first reading, Isaiah presents the joy of the proclamation of the Good News that had yet to be fulfilled, but of which he was so certain that he saw it as already present. The joy of Isaiah is a joy born of hope. It is a joy based on the certainty that God’s consolation for the suffering is very near. Isaiah proclaims the salvation of God, the justice of God, the happiness that comes from the Lord who saves mankind, each one, in all the nations of the earth.

            In the responsorial psalm, we accompany the Blessed Virgin Mary in her song of the Magnificat, her prayer of thanksgiving. We pray with her, who presents the joy of one who knows with complete certainty that God is her Savior and that the Almighty has set his loving gaze on her, seeing her humility. It is the joy of the chosen woman of God who announces the mercy of the Lord for all men and women of all times, from all lands on the earth. The joy of Mary is also the joy of gratitude for having been chosen by God.

            In the second reading, St Paul rejoices at the fidelity of God. It is the joy of one who feels secure and at peace with the assurance that God acts in his favor, for his sanctification. It is the joy of one who knows that nothing and no one can separate him from this love that God has expressed in Christ.[1] St Paul calls us to the joy of the certainty that we experience when we live in the faith that the Son of God loved us and gave himself up for us,[2] humbling himself out of love unto death on the cross.[3] St Paul’s joy is nourished by his absolute certainty in the resurrection of Christ, without which nothing has meaning.[4] St Paul offers today’s men a joy based on the conviction that in all things, God intervenes for the good of those who love him; on the certainty of knowing that we have been called, justified, and glorified; and on the strength that comes from knowing that with God, we can do all things.[5]If God is for us, who can be against us?” [6]

            In the Gospel another messenger of joy appears: John the Baptist, who represents the joy of one who knows he is a witness to the light. He is the forerunner of Christ who invites us to live the joy of accepting the Lord into our life, of experiencing Christ, of allowing him to grow in us; and also of fully living the great gift of our baptism, a gift that not only by water, but also by grace, makes us true participants in the life of God.[7]

            All of them—Isaiah, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Paul, and St John the Baptist—are messengers of joy, but the true joy is Christ. Only he, who will now make himself present in the Eucharist, is the joy that never ends. Christian joy is Christ. In him, all our hopes are fulfilled; in him, we find our salvation. And so, our joy is a joy that begins already in this world, but that will be complete only when we possess Christ without obstacles, in a perfect and eternal love.

            Our joy, already from now, “is based on the love of the Father, in our participation in the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ who, by the Holy Spirit, makes us pass from death to life, from sadness to joy, from absurdity to the deep meaning of existence, from discouragement to the hope that never deceives. This joy is not an artificially produced feeling, nor is it a fleeting mood. The love of the Father was revealed to us in Christ, who invites us to enter into his Kingdom. He taught us to pray, saying, Abba, Father.[8] Knowing Jesus Christ by faith is our joy; following him is a grace; and sharing this treasure with others is a charge that the Lord, upon calling and choosing us, has entrusted to us.” [9]

            Thus, today, in this liturgy, in this encounter with Christ, we experience the joy of being disciples of the Lord and of having been sent to the world with the treasure of the Gospel. We live the experience that being a Christian is not a burden, but a gift, because God the Father has blessed us in Christ his Son, the Savior of the world. We deeply desire to make this joy which we receive in our encounter with Jesus Christ, whom we recognize as the incarnate Son of God, our Redeemer, to reach all men and women who are wounded by adversities. We want the joy of the Good News of the Kingdom of God, of Jesus Christ, the conqueror of sin and death, to reach all those who lie on the side of the road, asking for charity and compassion.[10] The joy of the disciple is an antidote when confronted with a world that is terrified by the future and anguished by violence and hatred. The joy of the disciple is not a feeling of egoistic well-being, but a certainty that springs from faith, that calms the heart and enables us to proclaim the good news of God’s love. Knowing Jesus is the best gift that anyone could receive; the fact of having found him is the best thing that could happen to us in life, and sharing him with others by our words and works is our greatest joy.[11]

            In the world, in life’s difficulties and problems, in the moments of pain, Christians always maintain this deep joy, this interior peace that comes from intimate union with God, with his love. In this deep relationship with the Lord, we find peace in our times of confusion, consolation in our suffering, strength to live out our commitments, and motivation to continue moving forward on the path of holiness. The love of God, discovered in prayer, strengthened and nourished by the sacraments, and lived in charity, is the source of our interior joy.

            So, evangelization and the apostolate become a shared joy. “Let us therefore preserve our fervor of spirit. Let us preserve the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow. May it mean for us- as it did for John the Baptist, for Peter and Paul, for the other apostles and for a multitude of splendid evangelizers all through the Church's history- an interior enthusiasm that nobody and nothing can quench. May it be the great joy of our consecrated lives. And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the Good News not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervor, who have first received the joy of Christ, and who are willing to risk their lives so that the kingdom may be proclaimed and the Church established in the midst of the world.”[12]


            Dear members of the Regnum Christi Movement, always be joyful men and women who share Christ, the true joy of every human being. May nothing and no one take this joy from you, may nothing and no         one turn you away from your ideal. Today, with the voice of St Paul, I urge you to pray constantly to strengthen this interior union with God, to give thanks for the gifts you have received: your charism of love, your apostolic dynamism, your fidelity to the Pope and the Church, and your faith and hope. Cultivate and live your charism so that you do not extinguish the Spirit. Grow so that you can proclaim and extend the Kingdom of Christ more widely in this world. Examine everything, keep what is good, and abstain from all evil, always seeking holiness. May the God of peace sanctify you fully, and may your entire being— spirit, soul, and body—be preserved without stain until the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and it is he who will do it. I also ask you, like Paul, to pray for us. Pray for the Church every day. I know that you always pray for the Holy Father after receiving communion. Do not leave aside this tradition. Pray for the Pope, pray for those who collaborate with him. Your prayer builds the Church and obtains the grace from God for the Spirit of truth to be received by many of our brothers and sisters who do not see or know him.[13]

            Always stay close to the Blessed Virgin. She, who appeared to Juan Diego, presents herself as the fountain of his joy: “Am I not here who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protected? Am I not the fountain of your joy? Are you not under my mantle, in my arms?”[14]Live each day in an intimate union with her so that you can hear these same words in the interior of your heart. May she be the fountain of your joy and your sure path to the Father.

            Now we will joyfully continue this Mass in thanksgiving for all the gifts we have received from God during this Encounter.


[1] Cf. Rom 8,35.

[2] Cf. Gal 2:20,

[3] Cf. Phil. 2:5-8.

[4] Cf. 1 Cor 15:14-17.

[5] Cf. Rom 8:28-32.

[6] Rom 8:31.

[7] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1997.

[8] Cf. Rom 8:15; Mt 6:9.

[9] V General conference of latin american and caribbean Bishops: Aparecida, 17-18.

[10]  Cf. Lk 10:29-37; 18:25-43.

[11] Cf. Aparecida, 28-29.

[12] Cf. Paul VI, apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 80.

[13] Cf. Jn 14:17.

[14] Cf. Nican Mopohua, nn. 118-119.



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