The State of Europe Forum, Saint John's CoCathedral, Valletta
8th May 2017
I would like to offer a short refelection on the theme of healing by asking you to concentrate your focus on the beautiful marble sculpture which is the focal point of the CoCathedral dedicated to the patron of the Order of St John, St John the Baptist. I am sure you had the opportunity to admire Preti’s cycle on the life of the baptist. But truly gave the knights this extraordinary sculpture of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. My first relfection is on the meeting of two names “l’incontro di due nomi”. Both names were chosen by God; the angel Gabriel told Zechariah, “You will have a son and you will call him John”and he told Mary: “You will have a son and you will call him Jesus”. In this culture we have the meeting of these two names, of these two persons, but my first reflection is on the name “John” or “Yochanan”, the Lord is merciful. And the other name is “Yeshu'a”, the Lord saves. If we talk of healing we need to remember the meeting of these two names: they are missions, they are vocations, they are called to true healing. The Lord is merciful, the Lord saves. So if we want to offer healing for our beloved continent, for Europe, we need to remind ourselves and believe that healing is going to be a work of divine mercy, the work of God.
When Jesus forgave the sins of the paralytic, the Pharisees objected, “Who is he who forgives sins?”, that he offers radical healing? And Jesus then offered physical healing as a sign of his spiritual power to forgive. At his resurrection on the first day he met his disciples locked in the chamber, afraid of everybody and of everything, and he said, “Peace be with you” and then he breathe on them and he said, “Whatever you forgive is forgiven.” He gave them the sacred power to forgive; to be in a radical spiritual healing.
God forgives, God saves. And as Maria Voce says and I would like to greet you in a special way “un cordiale benvenuto a Lei, Maria Voce, qui nella ConCattedrale di San Giovanni”, We need to rediscover the agency of God in the European project. The founders were men and women of faith. There is also a hidden motive in the icons they gave Europe; the 12 starred flag which reminded them of the Lady and the apocalypse which obviously Europe chooses to forget nowadays. All these symbols which remind us of a past with days of glory and days of shame and shadow, cannot be forgotten if Europe needs to find its true roots and a new begining. As we await of the outcome of the French elections today, as we happened to meet on such an important day, we also remember that tomorrow, the 8th of May, is also a very important date in the Medieval calendar of Christian devotion. Traditionally, the 8th of May was linked to a devotion to our Lady and the devotion to St Michael, the archangel, especially on the Gargano peninsula. However, on the 9th of May we celebrate the Europe day. In Malta, we celebrate also a humble priest who was an apostle of evangelisation, St George Preca.
As I thank you for your presence and also hope that we meet tomorrow for the forum, I remind you of this beautiful image of Jesus, who humbles himself, immerses himself in the river of our sins to bring us up with him to a life of freedom, of healing. There is an image from the beautiful film by Pier Paolo Pasolini “Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo” of Jesus joining the queue, waiting to be baptised. Pasolini sees this from a far; he is interested in the long queue of people waiting to be healed by the ritual offered by the Baptist. Jesus joins that queue; he is an anonymous carpenter from Nazareth. john recognise him and says, “I’m not worthy”, and Jesus insists. He comes to John as the carpenter of Nazareth and coming out from the water he is declared as the “figlius dilectus”, the beloved son.
And this is all Giuseppe Mazzuoli try to bring to our attention: there is a “carteggio”, that flowing word banner which says “ecce figlius dilectus”, this is the beloved son. There’s the Holy Spirit, hovering over Jesus in the form of a dove, and there’s the second person of the Holy Trinity, the Word incarnate become now.
And so an anonymous carpenter is declared the Son of God and we have a share in the divine relvaltion of the intimate love and life of God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is the source of true radical healing, sharing and a life of God, who is love.
✠ Charles J. Scicluna
Archbishop of Malta