. . . you became a model for all the believers
1 Thes 1:7
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
In the papal encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis joyfully shares, “Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travelers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bring the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all.”
Jesus gives us the roadmap to fulfill that dream as we hear in St. Matthew’s Gospel proclaimed on the Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time – “love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
If we obey this commandment, we commit our whole being—our unique personality, thoughts, emotional reactions, strengths and weaknesses, everything that makes us who we are and that marks us extraordinarily made—to God. In our global community, we have a lot of neighbors and Jesus asks us to offer ourselves to provide for them as they are a part of our family from God.
Jesus lived these two commandments as He walked among us on earth. He offered Himself to God and offered Himself to each one of us by His Sacrifice, which we receive in the gift of the Eucharist. We have sustainable food through, with and in God to return to God what God has given to us; Himself. We are called to become what we receive.
Earlier this month, Carlo Acutis (3 May 1991 – 12 October 2006) was beatified. Pope Francis invites us to consider the late Italian teenager as a model of holiness. He was 15 years old when he died of a diagnosis of leukemia. He was in love with the Eucharist. He wrote about his own love of Jesus. He created a website on the Eucharist. He offered himself as a dwelling of Real Presence and lived his life as a dwelling place for God. He did not rest in comfortable immobility,” said Pope Francis. “He grasped the needs of his time, because he saw the face of Christ in the weakest.” Blessed Carlo Acutis’ example, he added, shows us that “true happiness is found in putting God in the first place and serving Him in our brothers and sisters.”
From the day he received his First Communion at the age of 7, he never missed daily Holy Mass. His family said he always tried, either before or after the Eucharistic celebration, to pause before the Tabernacle to adore the Lord, always truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. Our Lady was his great confidant and he never failed to honor her by reciting the Holy Rosary every day.
To quote Carlo’s own words: “Our goal must be the infinite and not the finite. The Infinity is our homeland. We are always expected in Heaven.” Carlo said that our compass must be the Word of God, that we have to measure up to it constantly. But to reach such a lofty goal very special measures are necessary: the Sacraments and prayer. In particular, Carlo placed the Sacrament of the Eucharist at the center of his life and he called it “my highway to Heaven”.
In another week, we will celebrate the Feast of All Saints and the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, November 1 and November 2 respectively. In the richness of these two days, we are also reminded of those who have led us to the Eucharist and taught us how to love God and share His love with our neighbors.
In the pandemic, the call to each one to build up the Kingdom of God on earth, was never dispensed. This is not left for anyone else. Carlo Acutis in his 15 years showed us how to live as a dwelling place of God. Saints already named have shown us. It is our time now, right this minute.
Will you become a model for all believers? Let us not delay.