Father General’s Homily
July 31, 2022
Throughout the year we have asked for grace see all things new in Christ. It is the gaze of the Crucified-Resurrected that makes us sensitive to the unjust suffering of so many individuals and entire peoples. At the same time, it is a gaze that helps to renew our hope in the fulfillment of the promises of the Lord of Life. In this emblematic Basilica of Loyola, we wish to renew our desire to follow more closely the poor and humble Jesus of the Gospels and to contribute concretely to making the Kingdom of God more and more a reality for all peoples. As a sign of our choice to continue to walk with Ignatius, with all the communities of the Company throughout the world, we will renew our consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which opens us to missionary activity guided by the Spirit of the same Lord whom we follow and proclaim.
The biblical readings, specific to this solemnity, enlighten and open little by little the way of our life and our apostolic commitment. The prophet Jeremiah is going through a tense moment in his life. His words, spoken from his experience of God, are uncomfortable for the religious and political powers, which expel him and chase him from his home. In the midst of so many difficulties and in spite of them, Jeremiah remained faithful to his inner experience. The external circumstances in which he lives, no matter how tense, cannot extinguish the interior experience of love that God has placed in his heart. (…)
Ignatius offers us a similar testimony when here, in the Santa Casa, this Holy House, during the time he was in convalescence, he experienced that the love of God in his life was stronger and greater than all his dreams. of glory, grandeur and court life. (…)
As Saint Paul reminds the Corinthian community, cultural differences between people can create divisions in the Christian community that seem irreconcilable. Paul proposes to break this tendency to create divisions by shifting, like himself, his gaze to Jesus, the crucified-resurrected, who claims nothing but the glory of God. Following the example of Paul, who seeks to act like Jesus, it is proposed that we seek the glory of God in all that we do. Ignatius of Loyola also acquired this gaze which enabled him to see all things in a new way.
Ignatius’ whole life was a passionate pursuit of the greater glory of God, to be his servant at all times. He tried with perseverance to ensure that this motto, which was like the vital breath of life, was imbibed by all the people, from all strata of society, whom he accompanied spiritually. He accompanies prostitutes to change their lives, welcomes orphans, denounces injustices, helps to overcome divisions, opens schools, governs his companions… And all this with the sole aim that everyone grows in the love of God and of others, living a dignified, devoted and fruitful life directed towards the greater glory of God. (…)
When the plan of Ignatius and his first companions to go to the Holy Land to follow Jesus more closely fell apart and they did not yet know what would happen to their lives, they decided to go in Rome and to put themselves at the disposal of the Pope, to follow the Lord in the service of the Church. Ignatius and his companions stopped at a small roadside chapel in La Storta for a time of prayer before entering the Holy City. In this small chapel, Ignatius experienced interiorly, with great strength, that the Father placed him with his Son carrying the cross. In addition to receiving the grace he had been asking Our Lady since his priestly ordination, that is to say, to be placed near his Son, he received a confirmation of the desire that had been maturing since his conversion to Loyola. It was the desire to closely follow the Lord Jesus, helping him to carry his cross for the redemption of the human race. When he arrived in Rome, he had no idea what awaited him, he had no precise idea of the kind of life he would have to undertake or the obstacles he would have to overcome. He had only one anchor point: his trust in the Trinitarian God who invited him to embrace the cross with Jesus.
Falling in love with Jesus, building fraternity and accompanying Jesus carrying the cross are three accents that today’s liturgical readings help us recognize in the life of Saint Ignatius. These are also three challenges for all of us when we remember Ignatius of Loyola. It is a memory that helps each of us in our search for meaning and direction in life, a memory that prompts us to respond according to the heart’s desire of Christ.
Today’s world needs people who give themselves totally to love and serve others. It is enough to look at the existential reality that surrounds us to realize that the main urgency of the present time is to find people who commit themselves totally, with joy and hope, to their daily task and to the service of others. Today’s world needs men and women who accept the invitation to carry their cross and put themselves at the service of the most vulnerable, collaborating in the construction of a more just world and the creation of a more authentic brotherhood. (…)
Our present time is as complex as it was in the time of Ignatius of Loyola. If a new life began for him with his conversion here at Loyola, today, still at Loyola, each of us is invited to start a new life, a life marked by commitment and generosity in the service of others. This is the vision that has accompanied us throughout the Ignatian Year, which we now conclude by renewing the consecration of the Society of Jesus to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.