(Rome) The same Spirit who inspired Alfonso is the one who guides us today and makes the heart of every confrere burn, with his joys and sorrows and, within his limits, makes him offer the best of himself with his gifts – said in his homily Fr. Rogério Gomes CSsR, General Consultor of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer who presided over the Eucharist in St. Alphonsus church in Rome on August 01, 2020.
Among the concelebrants were two other members of the General Government, Fr. Sebastian Ani Dato CSsR and Fr. Nicolas Ayouba CSsR, as well as the Superior of St. Alphonsus’ community and the Rector of the Shrine, Fr. Giovanni Congiu CSsR, Preside of the Alphonsian Academy, Fr. Alfonso Amarante CSsR, and professors, students and members of the local Redemptorist community.
Dear brothers and sisters present here in this Shrine and to you who follow us through the internet.
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori. We remember the 233 anniversary of his passage from this earth. And now, together with God, he continues to guide us.
If today we asked Alphonsus if he recognized the Congregation he founded, he would certainly say yes, but with some criticism, perhaps strong, about our constitutions and statutes, our forms of government, our chapters and our apostolic life. He would not criticize us from the point of context, but, as a smart man, from his reading of the signs of the times and the times of signs. Nevertheless, despite his criticism, Alphonsus would recognize his Congregation with great joy, because from his intuition and foundation he never failed to proclaim the Gospel one day, even with the difficulties he has gone through over the centuries.
Alphonsus would recognize in it the same vitality that comes from the sap of the charism and because it is alive and beats with the redeeming heart that pumps in its veins the blood of the abundant redemption that makes it respond every day, in different cultures, to the calls of the Spirit. Alphonsus would not be disappointed in us, he would ask us to go forward, with enthusiasm, always returning to the original intuition: the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he anointed me and sent me to bring the joyful proclamation to the most abandoned (Is 61:1).
This same Spirit who inspired Alphonsus is the one who guides us today and makes the heart of every confrere burn, with his joys and sorrows and, within his limits, makes him offer the best of himself with his gifts. It is this enthusiastic heart of each confrere, with the help of the People of God, that makes the heart of the Congregation beat and renew our apostolic life. This renewal is possible when each one seeks a personal encounter with the Redeemer and hears his voice say: look at the tired and exhausted crowd like sheep without a shepherd. Continue to walk through the towns and villages, preach the gospel of the kingdom, heal the sick and pray to the Lord of the harvest and ask him to send more workers (cf. Mt 9:35-38).
What does St. Alphonsus expect from us? Certainly, he expects creative fidelity that seeks to understand his charismatic intuition and to carry it forward in the modern context, with the help of the Lord who will give us the intelligence to understand everything (2Tm 2:7). He is not waiting for us to be superheroes, the holiest of the saints, but men with a welcoming, renewed, and merciful heart, who have compassion for sheep without a shepherd and can form consciences so that we can free so many slaveries in this world. Alfonso wants us to be sincerely human to be redeemed and to live days in favor of abundant redemption.
May Alphonsus from heaven inspire us to proclaim the Gospel in an ever new way, with all the means we have wherever we are, and give us the courage and audacity to renew the mission of the Congregation every day. So be it!
Fr. Rogério Gomes, C.Ss.R
Rome, August 01, 2020