Who leads them his first Homily as Bishop of Pinar del Río is a sinner, saved and redeemed by god’s merciful love.
Brothers in the Episcopate, respected civil authorities.
Dear sons and daughters of this Church that pilgrims in Pinar del Río.
Dear Pineans, believers or not, for whom I have also been sent.
All of you who have come from afar to join us. Thank you
I would like to express my special gratitude to Msgr. Jorge Serpa, thank you Msgr. Serpa for all your skins and dedication in this part of the Church, which you have grown and walked for twelve fruitful years.
Thank you Archbishop Siro for your silent and contemplative love that you continue to give us to have life in Him. And, to you, Cardinal Ortega, that you live today embraced the Crucified One and who gave your first years of episcopal ministry in this land…
I come, with the perplexity caused by God’s action in the life of a man and in his Church; I come obedient to the intervention of the Holy Spirit in the person of S.S. Pope Francis; Today, in obedience to God, I assume as pastor of this flock the service of accompanying you in faith.
What can I give you other than Jesus Christ, Lord of history! It is the best I can give you because it is the best I have, Jesus, the only and greatest wealth that the Church has, the most precious gift, the hidden pearl of his Kingdom, the beauty of God. Jesus, the only enough.
Jesus who interrogates you and me with the challenging question of more than 2,000 years ago: “WHO SAY I AM?” That’s what I’m here for us to answer together.
Two thousand years ago a man asked this question to a group of friends. And the story hasn’t finished answering it yet. The one I was asking was just a villager talking to a group of fishermen. Nothing made me suspect it was someone important. He dressed simply. He and those around him were people without much instruction, without what the world calls “culture.” They had no titles or material supports. They had no money, no chance of acquiring it. They had no weapons or power at all. They were young, little more than boys, and one of them would die before two years with the most violent of deaths. Everyone else would end up, not long after, on the cross or under the sword. They were, from the beginning and would always be, hated by the powerful. But neither did the poor finish understanding what that man and his twelve disciples preached. He was indeed misunderstood. The violent found him weak and meek. The custodians of order judged him, on the other hand, violent and dangerous; the scholars despised him and feared him; the powerful laughed at their madness. He had devoted his whole life to God, and called God, Father.
There were certainly many who followed him in the ways when he preached, but most were more interested in the astonishing gestures he made, the miracles or the bread he ever handed out to them, than all the words that came out of his lips and his heart. In fact, everyone abandoned him when the storm of persecution and death by the powerful roared over his head, and only his mother and three or four other friends accompanied him in his agony. On the afternoon of good Friday, when the snrum of a borrowed tomb was closed over her body, no one would have given a penny for her memory, no one could have suspected that her memory would endure somewhere, outside the heart of that poor woman—her mother—who would probably sink into the silence of oblivion, night, and loneliness , Mary of Sorrows.
And… however, more than twenty centuries later history continues to revolve around that man. Historians—even the most opposed to him—continue to say that such a fact or battle occurred so many or as many years before or after Him. Half humanity, when asked about its beliefs, continues to use its name to be called. More than two thousand years after his life and death, volumes continue to be written each year about his person and his doctrine. His story has inspired at least half of all the art the world has produced since he came to earth. And every year, she gives up thousands of men and women leave everything—her family, her customs, perhaps even her homeland—to follow her entirely, like those twelve first disciples.
Who is He that the sick, the weak, suffering, and troubled relieve their pain just by mentioning their name?
Who is He that the elders bless with the gratitude of the lived history?
Who, who is this man for whom so many have died, whom so many have loved to madness? For the past two thousand years, his name has been in millions of agonizers as a hope, and of thousands of martyrs as a pride. How many have been imprisoned and tormented, how many have died just for proclaiming themselves followers of theirs! And also how many have been forced not to believe in Him at risk of their lives. His doctrine, paradoxically, inflated the hearts of the Saints. His disciples have been called the missionaries who crossed the world only to announce their name. Who, then, is this character who seems to call for total surrender, this character who crosses the middle and middle of the story like a fiery sword and whose name produces fruits of love and madness?
I think the man who hasn’t answered this question from Jesus: “WHO SAY I AM?” can be sure that he hasn’t started living yet. And what, then, to think of Christians who do not know everything about Him, who claim to love Him, but have never known Him, who claim to follow Him, and their works do not prove it?
And it is a question that needs to be answered because, if He is what He said about Himself, if He is what His disciples say about him, being a man, then, is something very different from what we imagine, much more important than we believe. For if God has been man, he has become man, the whole human condition, being man acquires the highest level that can exist in history, the level of the divine.
Meeting him is not a curiosity. It’s much more than a culture phenomenon. It is something that puts our existence at stake, because with Jesus it does not happen as with other characters in history. That Caesar was emperor nothing changes the meaning of my life. That Charles V was emperor of Germany or Spain has nothing to do with my salvation as a man. That Napoleon died defeated, he will not move a single human being today to leave his house, his comfort and his love and go and talk about him to a village in the heart of Africa.
But Jesus! Jesus demands absolute answers. He assures that by believing in Him man saves his life and, ignoring him, loses it. This man—God—presents himself as the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6). Therefore—if this is true—our journey, our life, changes depending on the answer to the question about you.
And how can we respond without knowing him, without having approached his story, without contemplating the ins and outs of his soul, without having read and reread his words?
That is why I come, my dear pineans, to discover Jesus Christ, that together we may know Him better, love Him, and imitate Him.
I come to grow in myself and my priests the three great loves to evangelize Cuba: one, love for Jesus; two: love for his Church; three, the love of this people that we have always accompanied.
I come to nourish myself and work with the charism of Consecrated Life and to put its gifts according to the Kingdom, so that our life may be Christ and to die a gain.
I come to help shape in every seminarian the figure of Christ, high and eternal priest, with the ardant and passion for the proclamation of the Kingdom.
I come for marriages to live their union, like Christ with their Church.
I come for our young people to embrace the ideal of Christ, of his dedication to the Father, as the greatest Hope that they can give to our Fatherland, for which our venerable Father Felix Varela asked for virtue.
I come for all of us to find Him as the most authentic face of God: Jesus, the One who in flesh and blood, visibly and historically, brought to earth the splendor of God’s glory. The words of Psalm 45 apply to Him: “You are the most beautiful of men.” And to Him, paradoxically, they also refer to the words of the prophet Isaiah: “There is no appearance in Him, there is no beauty for us to look at Him, nor appearance so that in Him we may be pleased” (Is 53:2).
In Christ we find the beauty of truth and the beauty of love; but, as we know, love also implies the availability to suffer, an availability that can even lead to the surrender of life by those whom he loves (cf. Jn 15:13) and to the forgiveness of the enemy (Mt 5:44).
Christ, who is “the beauty of all beauty” as St Bonaventure used to say (Sunday Sermons 1:7), becomes present in the heart of man and draws him to his vocation, which is love. Thanks to this extraordinary force of attraction, reason comes out of its awkwardness and opens up to mystery. This reveals the supreme beauty of God’s merciful love and, at the same time, the beauty of man who, created in the image of God, is reborn by grace and destined for eternal glory.
Over the centuries Christianity has communicated and spread thanks to the novelty of life of people and Christian communities capable of giving an effective witness of love, unity and joy with their deeds. Precisely this force has put so many people into “movement” generation after generation. Wasn’t it the beauty that faith has engendered in the face of the saints that has prompted so many men and women to follow in their footsteps?
May Jesus’ exhortation always resurface in their hearts, my dear sons and daughters: “Let his light shine before men, that they may see their good works and glorify their Father who is in heaven” (Mt 5:16).
There is no beauty worth if there is no truth to recognize and follow; if love is reduced to a passing feeling, if happiness becomes an unattainable mirage, if freedom degenerates into oppression How much harm can the desire for power, possession, pleasure can do in the lives of man and nations!
Dear sons and daughters, bring to this troubled world the witness of the freedom with which Christ has delivered us (cf. Ga 5:1). Bring the extraordinary fusion between love of God and love for one’s neighbour, this beautifies life and brings hope back to the wilderness in which we often live. Carry the charity that manifests itself as a passion for the life and destiny of others, radiating into the centers of study and work, becoming a force for the construction of a more just social order, there is built the civilization of love, capable of slowing the advancement of barbarism. Be builders of a better world in which the beauty of human life is manifested, in which we can live marriage love forever and the defense of life from its conception
In this new mission I am surrounded by the Faith, Hope and Charity of all my predecessors who, in this Pinareña Church, gave their lives, that cloud of witnesses who accompany and intercede for us; we entrust ourselves, to Saint Rosendo, Patron of our Diocese.
I entrust you and entrust me to the intercession of Mary, Virgin of Charity, patron saint of Cuba, to which we invoke as the “All beautiful”, an ideal of beauty that artists have always tried to reproduce in their works, the “Woman dressed in the sun” (Ap 12:1), in which human beauty meets that of God.
Finally, I want every day to pray with you as the beloved disciple, St. John in the Revelation and say with all the strength of love: Maranatha!!
“Come Lord Jesus”. Amen.