The second week of Advent presents the figure of John the Baptist as a sign of God’s offer of salvation. History reaches its peak in the most longed-awaited and yearned for moment, the moment when the proclamation of the Kingdom of God begins, the Messiah is about to come. In the desert John the Baptist becomes a prophet and precursor of the Messiah. […]
An image that can greatly help us to experience this second week of Advent is that of the desert. Biblically, the desert is shown as a place where humankind is called to live a spiritual and existential experience intensely. It’s an environment where humankind can make the difficult and sometimes arduous encounter with themselves. […] We have the example of our great saint, Peter-Julian Eymard, who in the desert of his Great Retreat at Rome was enabled to realise his most deep limitations, his fears, and above all when he expressed this by the words: “I flee from God through fear of my self.” Facing oneself surely opens the way to become open to make the supreme offering of the gift of one’s personality.
To celebrate today also the 56th anniversary of his canonisation is a source of joy and at the same time an incentive to carry out our journey of conversion, as we prepare in a special way for the Birth of the Saviour. Our Founder is not regarded as a saint of extraordinary things, but as someone who lived the holiness of God in his daily life. […] It was a holiness that impelled him to make the option for the poor of the periphery of Paris, with whom he founded our Congregation in response to the numerous conditions of need in which they were living. To celebrate the canonisation of St Peter-Julian Eymard is a special call of God to us also, in our daily life and in the situations where we are required to make profound and radical decisions, as we try to follow his example in being faithful and creative in our responses.
For our Eymardian family, La Mure is today a very important point of reference in our lives. We hold an affectionate and spiritual bond to this town where Father Eymard was born, lived his first years of childhood and also where he was born to a blessed eternity. The project launched here 11 years ago has enabled our family to recognise that La Mure is a privileged place of our history and our quest to incarnate and actualise Father Eymard’s charism today. I thank my predecessor, Father Fiorenzo Salvi, who began this audacious project, as well as the members of his General Council for their collaboration, and the brethren who’ve lived here and consecrated a period of their lives to proclaim the Gospel of the Eucharist in this region. I express my gratitude to my newly arrived brethren for responding positively to the appeal of Father Eymard’s Family. May this time be for you, Fathers Norman, Nino, Antoine and Mateus, a period rich in a fruitful experience of community life and in service offered to the Church and our Congregation.
This is also a special moment to thank sincerely that worker of the first hour for bringing this project to fruition. The physiognomy of our presence, expressed in the organisation of the Centre of Spirituality and in the mission in this immense parish, is largely due to his commitment and competence. He is today one of the greatest experts of the life and work of St Peter-Julian Eymard. Apart from his work here at La Mure, his contribution to the formation of the whole Eymardian Family is recognised by means of his books, in which he has presented the deep and living content of our Founder.
Father Manuel Barbiero, to express our gratitude, I repeat the words of the Letter to the Philippians that we have heard in the liturgy of the word today: And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Phil. 1.9-11)
I’ve already personally told Father Manuel and his Provincial that he is today a patrimony of richness and knowledge regarding Eymard for the whole Congregation. Wherever he may be, he will always be a point of reference and will continue to work so that this richness may be shared with our whole Family.
Thank you, Father Manuel, for your life given here, for your health sacrificed here, and for your witness lived here. May God bless you with great wisdom and joy to live in the discovery of this immense love of God manifest in the Eucharist, and which accompanied the whole of Father Eymard’s life.
By Fr Eugênio Barbosa Martins, sss
extract from his homily