Firefighters

Sisma: trovata viva bimba ad AmatriceFirefighters (22/01/2017)

The word “redemption” is not often used, yet it is fundamental because it indicates the most radical liberation that God could fulfil for us, for all of humanity and for all of creation. It seems that man today no longer likes to think he has been freed and saved through God’s intervention; he deludes himself that his freedom is a force for obtaining everything. But in reality this is not the case. How many illusions are sold on the pretext of freedom, and how many new forms of slavery are created in our times in the name of a false freedom!

Today, four months later, I wanted to read again to you these words, pronounced by Pope Francis during his general audience of September 10th, 2016, right before the end of the Jubilee of Mercy. The good news that compels Jesus to teach in every Synagogue is the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God, i.e. how God acts within the flesh of history, his modus operandi. And God operates by saving, by liberating. This redemption is close; it can be whispered from one ear into another.

I will make you fishers of men (Matthew 4, 19)

This is a sentence full of promise. Full of hope, full of strength. It is His action that enables us to become saviours ourselves, thus saving others from Evil. Fish die when they are out of the water, while being out of the Evil is the only way for men to be alive. And Evil is cold. Evil is fear. Evil is cold and gloomy darkness. Evil is captivity and slavery. Forged by God to pull out of the chill of a life with no meaning, no light, no warmth. It’s not just “looking after”. It’s not just wounds-licking. It’s not just guiding: it’s saving. It’s pulling out of darkness. “But we cannot save anyone ourselves…”. True. It’s Him who can save. He wants to save. And He makes us into saviours within Him, by uniting us to Him.  Jesus acts in order to train us to save others, he doesn’t make us simple consolers of men who are freezing to death in the darkness. He doesn’t make us simple wounds-lickers. He makes us firefighters. Because this is how he must see men: he sees them being under. Underwater, under the debris, imprisoned, scared, in the darkness. Tired and wounded.

Without Him, autonomously, it is like wanting to kill Moby Dick: the Leviathan’s skin is too thick for us alone. The maximum we can reach, and it already is a lot, would be to sometimes be able to rescue bodies, to save biological lives. And if we are so moved by such[1] rescuing, if we feel like this experience speaks to us, what will it be like when we will see how God rescues us, how God saves us? If those volunteers working for the Civil Protection can pierce the wall of indifference of so many people with their sacrifice and their human bravery, what will we say when we will find out the divine effort of Salvation that Jesus Christ generously gave for us? (What will we say) when, at the very end, finally, we will understand how much light and strength emanates from His Sacraments?

It will be a cry of anguish, but it will be a purifying cry. We will cry over the Good we could have done, had we come out of that darkness. We will cry over not whispering that prayer until the very end. That whispered prayer, which Love was respectfully waiting for, so that freedom (a trait of love) could be preserved. The prayer that makes the Kingdom of God grow: “Save me, reign over me!”.

by Fr. Maurizio Botta C.O.

[1] The homily was given in the wake of the rescuing of 9 people trapped under the snow, four days after an avalanche slammed into hotel Rigopiano in Italy’s central Apennines mountains.

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