25 January 2016

Archbishop Farhat: The Holy Face is the definitive sign of the divinity of Christ

Last week, I shared with you my translation of the homily of His Excellency the Most Reverend George Ganswein, Prefect of the Papal Palace and Secretary to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, he preached during the pilgrimage of the Holy Face from Manoppello to Rome. Today, I am happy to share with my translation of the homily preached by His Excellency the Most Reverend Edmond Y. Farhat, Apostolic Nuncio Emeritus to Austria, to close the same pilgrimage:

In the Face of Christ, impressed on the veil of Veronica, conserved in the sudarium of Manoppello, we venerate the Lord God of mercy, Savior of the world.

Today, brothers and sisters, right now, we turn to the temple of the Holy Spirit to venerate the Holy Face and what it means.  We celebrate the Eucharist, we confess our sins, and we announce the Good News.
PHOTO: Antonio Bini
The Good News of today is the invitation to the wedding at Cana. Jesus was invited, invited by his Mother because the guests were friends of his mamma. She invited her Son, and at a certain point, said, “They have no wine.” “My hour,” responded the Son, “has not yet arrived.” “Do that which he says,” said the momma. Jesus, obedient to his Mother, saved face for the groom and his family.
The feast was beautiful and the joy was great. They drank and sang. The feast was transformed into a unique occasion. It was the occasion of the first sign of his manifestation, of the manifestation of his divinity. It was the beginning of the signs carried out by Jesus, because of which they believed in him. Better still, it is the first sign that reveals his personality. He came that they might have life, and have it in abundance. At Cana, Jesus manifested his authority. “Fill the jars,” and they filled them. Cana was the very first sign of the divine authority of Jesus, this authority that developed during his mission until it became known in the passion and in a true image, living, in the hands of Veronica.
PHOTO: Paul Badde
Cana was the first visible sign of the divinity of Jesus. It is a provocative sign now, the icon of Manoppello that is a definitive sign. Cana was the first, and the face of the sudarium is the definitive sign. It is a provocative sign and insignificant, discrete and quiet, but most eloquent, always old and always new. Discussed and venerated, look at it with your eyes, accompany, follow, and guide your gaze. It is a concrete sign, but it is not made by man; it is created, but no one knows its origin, its formation.
It is not an object of another time; it is the icon of the eternal face, the face of goodness and of friendship, of mercy and of peace. The face that speaks, that examines, that asks, that awaits a response. It seems to say: “Look at me, you who are tired. Come to me and I will give you rest.” They have not seen, they did not have to suffer humiliation, the men of our time, as the friends of Mary had to suffer humiliation at Cana. He had to make a deed.

They do not have faith, the men of our time, but, as at the wedding at Cana: “Have mercy on them,” Mary says [to her Son], “and contemplate the face bequeathed to you” [to the men of our time]. And we contemplate the face of Jesus. It speaks to us and nods to us, it is good, it is merciful. Therefore, we have brought it from Manoppello to here, because his expression [something inaudible] a wider goodness and mercy in this year of grace in which God reveals himself with the name of mercy, as the Holy Father Francis teaches. Therefore, we expose ourselves in the church of the Holy Spirit because the Spirit speaks to the heart, it suggests intentions of wisdom and hope. Therefore we put it in the church looked after by Saint Faustina because she has been able to perceive the dimensions of his face.

There are moments in which, in an even stronger way, we are called to keep our look fixed on mercy to become effectively inserted into the action of the Father, as Pope Francis says in his exhortation.

This, dear brothers and sisters, is a privileged moment. We fix our gaze on the Holy Face and we will be transformed by God’s mercy. The sign is not an end in itself; the sign is a pointer on the way of the return, the return to the Father. The sudarium [something inaudible] of Christ. Christ is Jesus that has transformed the water into wine to participate in the joy of his friends and parents. The transformation requires a change. Our transformation and our conversion from pointless spectators to collaborators in the work of Jesus and Mary, who kept all these things in her heart, and no one knows the son and Lord like her. She guides us on the journey to encounter her Son, through his face that we can physically contemplate.
PHOTO: Antonio Bini
Yesterday we took it and venerated it to give thanks for so many benefits; today we greet it and honor it, asking him to accompany us on our new journey, the journey to the wedding of the Lamb, full of grace and mercy.
We hold impressed in our minds and in our heart his image that speaks to us and examines us. It is the image of the Incarnate Word because we have life. It accompanies us in our street because we remember always that God is mercy. His mercy accompanies us. We remember that the people of God, going up to Jerusalem, in the Old Testament, always repeated in their pilgrimages: “God is good, he has given us goodness; he has given us faith because his mercy is eternal, because his mercy is eternal.”

We from this Eternal City, city of saints, of Faustina; city of John Paul II, of Paul VI, of John XXIII, of popes and saints; we want [to turn] our thought to the Jerusalem of Jesus, to the Jerusalem of Mary; and we ask peace for Jerusalem, peace to all the people of Palestine and of Jerusalem, of the Middle East and of the Mediterranean. There is room for everyone; mercy has no limits. [N.B.: He repeated the prayer for peace in Hebrew and in Arabic.] Eternal is the mercy of God, because he is good; he is great, his face guides us, accompanies us, and we will not be lost.

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