By Sr Bernadete Mary Reis, fsp
The Preacher of the Pontifical household focused on the eyewitness John who wrote an account of what he witnessed. John not only saw what everyone else saw. “He also saw the meaning of what happened,” Fr Cantalamessa says. He saw the sacrificial Lamb of God, the fulfillment of the Passover, the “new temple of God from whose side (…) flowed the water of life.” John witnessed the release of the Spirit of God who as, in the beginning, “transformed the chaos in the cosmos.”
What does the cross reveal?
Fr Cantalamessa explains that John understood that Jesus on the cross was revealing God “as he really is, in his most intimate and truest reality.” Later John would express this understanding as “God is love” (1 Jn 4:10), meaning that it is an oblative love, a love that consists in self-giving.” It is only on the cross that God manifests just how far his love will go: “He loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1).
John, a model for the young
John manifests a “real falling in love.” After his encounter with Jesus “everything else suddenly took second place,” Fr Cantalamessa recounts. Since the Church is preparing for the Synod on Young People, John’s witness can provide a model for the young to realize what Pope Francis invites us to in Evangelii gaudium: “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ” (n. 3).
A mission for the young
It is precisely up to the young “to rescue human love from the tragic drift in which it has ended up,” Fr Cantalamessa proposes. “God revealed himself on the cross as agape, the love that gives itself.” Turning to young people, Fr Cantalamessa explains how they can do this: “it is necessary to prepare yourselves to make a total gift of self to another in marriage, or to God in consecrated life, beginning by making a gift of your time, of your smile, (…) of your lives in the family, in the parish, and in volunteer work,” he says. In this way, young people will learn how to unite eros to agape, he says.
Jesus makes self-giving love possible
In conclusion, Fr Cantalamessa proclaims that through his grace Jesus makes it possible for us to live self-giving love “to some extent, in our lives.” Today we can tap into this grace through the Church’s sacraments by which we come in contact with the water and blood that John saw flowing from Christ’s open side, and by weeping “tears of repentance and consolation” when we look on the pierced one.