Year 131° - June 2019
Charity is the distinguishing mark of a Christian
Fr. Livio Tonello, director
The “Hymn to charity” by the apostle Paul (1 Cor.12,1-13,13) is the most beautiful page of the New Testament and of the whole Bible. Paul, in his First Letter to the Corinthians explained, by means of analogies with the body, that the variety of gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit contributes to the good of the only one Church then he showed the “way” to perfection. This- he said- did not consist in having exceptional qualities such as speaking new languages, knowing all the mysteries, having a prodigious faith or performing heroic gestures but in love, authentic love as God revealed to us in Jesus Christ.
Love is the “greatest” gift that gives values to all the others yet, “it is not boastful or conceited”, on the contrary, it “delights in the truth” and the good of the other people. At the end when we will be face to face with God all the other gifts will fail; love will remain for ever because God is love and we will be like him, in perfect union with Him.
For the time being, as long as we are in this world, love is the distinguishing mark of a Christian. It is the synthesis of all his life: what he believes in and what he does. In the Encyclical Deus caritas est Pope Benedict XVI wrote, the two aspects of love are explained: the meaning and the practical realization. Love is the essence of God, it is the meaning of creation and history and it is the light that gives goodness and beauty to the life of man.
At the same time love is, so to say, the “style” of God and of a believer, it is the behaviour of he who answers God’s love, considers his life as the gift of himself to God and his brothers. These two aspects are perfectly united in Jesus Christ. He is incarnate Love which is fully revealed to us in Jesus crucified. Fixing our eyes on Him together with the apostle John, we can say: “We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves” (I Jn 4, 16). Thinking of the saints we realize a variety of spiritual gifts in them as well as their human characters but the life of each of them is a hymn to love, a living song to God’s love!
On 13 June we will celebrate the feast of St. Anthony. He was the apostle of the Word of God, the father of poor sinners, the friend of the humble, defender of the oppressors. He took pity on the spiritual, material and political sufferings of all the people and he never forgot their bodily needs. At this point we could mention many of the miracles that God granted to man through the intercession of St. Anthony who, besides his thaumaturgic power, revealed, in all its splendour, the compassionate love of his heart.
Time will pass but the peoples of all nations and languages, when in need, will always turn to him imploring for help. Endless number of sinners will continue to kneel before his beautiful statues asking God to forgive them and give peace to their conscience. Those who are starving will continue to ask him for the bread that every day his goodness distributes to the afflicted, the persecuted and all those who are desperate. People will always continue to implore his comfort, protection and salvation. And in Heaven, better than on earth, he will constantly carry out his mission as a benefactor of mankind.