On June 3, 2016, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, the Jubilee Year for the 75th anniversary of our founding came to an end, as did the International Convention of Regnum Christi in Rome. Our General Director prepared the homily published below. (Readings: Ezek 34:11-16; Ps 22; Rom 5:5-11; Lk 15:3-7)
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want! This acclamation, which we sang in the responsorial Psalm, expresses very well the meaning of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart that we celebrate today. At the same time, it sheds light on the closing of the Jubilee Year for the 75th anniversary of our foundation that began one year ago on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart in 2015. The acclamation also relates well to the wrapping up of the work of the International Convention of Regnum Christi Members of the 1st and 2nd degree of Regnum Christi, whose contributions enrich us and have brought us a step closer to General Statutes for the Movement.
“I myself will feed my sheep” (Ezek 34:15)
The prophet Ezekiel conveys a vision of the future, one that reawakens in the people of Israel their longing for the coming of the Messiah. Jesus Christi is identified in the Gospel with the Good Shepherd, but he also speaks of the future, of sheep that are in another fold, saying that there will be one fold and one shepherd …
This prophecy gradually comes to fulfillment in time. We have ourselves experienced the tenderness and mercy of God who has come to seek out each one of us as individuals, and the Legion and the Movement as a whole, when we were lost in days of darkness and gloom (see Ezekiel 34) – and there sure were enough of those in our history which we are not going to forget any time soon! Jesus wanted to give his life for us, to reconcile us to the Father.
Is it not so that this Jubilee Year brought us to remember once again the mercy of Christ who called us to help build up his Kingdom, each according to his specific vocation, be that as a Legionary, a lay consecrated woman or man, a married or single lay person? For many of us, this year gave us the chance to see that Christ is not afraid of going to seek us out wherever we might be. He did this personally, but also through the Church, through other members of the large family of those baptized into Christ.
Today this year of grace marking our 75th anniversary comes to an end. We had wanted to thank God for his faithfulness and all the gifts he has blessed us with and to rekindle the desire to serve him through prayer and apostolate, especially through charity and the works of mercy. We also wanted to purify our memory, make reparation for our sins and open ourselves to the grace of personal and institutional conversion.
Each of us knows to what extent he has opened himself up to this extraordinary period that the Church gave us and which winds up today. The spiritual gifts that he wanted to give remain in our hearts. But perhaps the most important thing is that we have learned to contemplate the face of Christ, to let ourselves be found by Him and receive his mercy and to allow him to send us forth as witnesses of his love.
I therefore believe that today the Heart of Christ tells us in a special way, “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.” He is the protagonist in our story. We are not. He is the one who guides our steps. The best thing we can do is recognize that he has done wonders for us and showered his mercy upon us. This is not due to any merit on our part but simply because he loves to show us his goodness and tenderness. His heart rejoices when we welcome the gifts he offers us, even though many times that involves leaving aside our personal ways of looking at things, our preconceptions, our way of doing things …
The heart of Christ rejoices because he was able to find us. We rejoice for the same reason. There is obviously no place in our rejoicing for vain triumphalism, nor for any self-exaltation on the part of the Legion and Regnum Christi. Both as individuals and as a spiritual family in the Church, over this period we had the chance to become fully aware of our limitations, our weaknesses, our hesitation and our sins. We were able to ask God’s forgiveness for our infidelities during the first 75 years of our history. Today we apologize once again to all those whose faith was shaken or who were harmed by our mistakes. We ask the Heart of Jesus to help them experience his nearness and peace. But we cannot stop trembling with joy, knowing the Lord loves us deeply, sought us out even though we were sinners and enemies (see Rom 5:9), and carries us on his shoulders and allows us to rest our head on his chest (see Lk 15:5).
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, wants us to get in tune with what he feels in his heart: “Rejoice with me!” We have been found! We have received his mercy!
Today the international convention of lay Movement members as well as our Jubilee Year have come to an end. In a way we now go back to our usual occupations but we cannot be the same. Jesus goes ahead of us, leading the way …We have to start afresh from Christ and go forward with Him.
We can and must accompany Christ on the right path. In what does that consist? Drawing from the instructions and recommendations we received from the General Chapter and the general assemblies of the consecrated branches, as well as from what we heard during these past days of work from the 1st and 2nd degree members, I think it has to include the following points:
- Seek Christ and let ourselves be found by Him. Through baptism we are his, and some of us have consecrated our entire life to him. Let us take time for prayer, the contemplation of Christ, to feel deeply the joy that comes from intimacy with him and the experience of his mercy. May we be men and women who have not only read about Christ but who know and love him, especially through the Word of God, prayer, the sacraments and love of neighbor. Let us try to respond to his love through our daily commitment to holiness as we live out our specific vocation and our particular way of bringing expression to the charism the Lord has given us, one confirmed as authentic by the Church (see Lumen Gentium, 12).
- Be witnesses of his mercy, of communion and reconciliation. Let us not forget our history, with its lights and shadows. At the same time let us not get stuck in the past, with all the good and bad that it holds. Let us bear witness today to the effects of the mercy we found in the Heart of Christ. Let us foster communion among ourselves and throughout the whole Church. Let us foster dialogue, the ability to accept others, to forgive and ask for forgiveness. Let us be patient with one another, as Jesus has been with all of us. Let us not stop along the way nor leave anyone behind, since the Good Shepherd does not allow any sheep to go lost. Let us open up to the future with hope, witnessing to the truth of the Gospel in the world.
- Be his apostles and close associates. Jesus invited us to be with Him and sent us out to preach. He wants us to be his sheep, good disciples, and at the same time good shepherds, missionaries. We must look beyond our own difficulties and see the needs of the world and the Church: how can we respond to these challenges? How can we make the message of Christ’s love resound loudly and credibly in the hearts of men? How can we make ourselves available so that the Good Shepherd can continue to sheep that have gone astray? Let’s allow the Lord to fill us with his Holy Spirit, the Comforter, and grant us to feel as he does.
Today a year of special grace for our family of the Legion and Regnum Christi come to a close. Let us continue to immerse ourselves in the celebration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Let us pray for Pope Francis and his ministry. Let us also pray that God send good and holy vocations to the consecrated branches of the Movement and to the Legion. Let us ask the Heart of Christ to bless families, especially those in difficulty, so that they are places that make his love visible. Above all, let us ask the Good Shepherd to help us understand the program he has laid out for our future, the program that can be summed up in six words: “Christ Our King! Thy Kingdom Come!”