HOMILY – THURSDAY 1 OCTOBER 2020 – Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino, Bishop of Assisi
OPENING OF THE TOMB OF CARLO ACUTIS
In just ten days, Carlo Acutis will be enrolled in the register of blessed. A register that reflects the register of heaven on earth. In reality, between earth and heaven, the distance is shorter than one might imagine. Heaven and earth touch each other. They intertwine. From the spiritual point of view, one can live on earth inhabited by heaven.
Today, the extraordinary figure of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, whose liturgical memorial we keep, reminds us of this. She, too, dying at a young age, promised to spend her heaven casting down roses upon the earth.
Our own Carlo reminds us of this, eager for heaven, to the point that in the Eucharist he found his “highway” to heaven. Today, he retraces that highway, so to speak, in the opposite direction, returning among us with the joy of a radiant face, now for almost fifteen years in the direct presence of the light of God, among the angels and saints.
He also returns today with the visibility of his mortal remains. That body which on this earth was sanctified by the water of baptism, signed by the chrism of confirmation, nourished by the body of Christ, is a blessed body, as is the body of all the baptized, insofar as they remain faithful to the love of God.
Carlo was faithful to this love, choosing it as the “everything” of his life. He gave over this choice to a purpose, as short as a tweet, but burning as fire: “not I, but God.” This choice of his has burned his soul and his body. Today, we, after Mass, will see him again also in his mortal body.
A body that passed, during the years of burial in Assisi, through the normal process of decay, which is the legacy of the human condition after sin has removed it from God, the source of life. But this mortal body is destined for resurrection. God Himself, in the flesh of His Son, dead and risen, has given us back the “link” for the life that never sets.
The book of Job had already sensed this in the Old Testament, which in the First Reading made us hear his cry of pain and hope: “I know that my redeemer lives and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust! After this skin of mine has been stripped away, yet my flesh will see God.” This intuition becomes certainty after the resurrection of Jesus, for those who cling to him and make him their life.
The face of God thus radiates on the faces of the saints. It illuminates our redeemed humanity. Hence, the respect we owe not only to the memory, but also to the mortal remains of the dead. Respect that is tinged with veneration when it comes to the relics of brothers and sisters who, for the eminent holiness of their life, the Church inserts into her liturgy, to give them to us as intercessors and models of life. This is the case with Carlo. For this reason, after the celebration, I will open his tomb, to make in these weeks his body, reassembled with art and love, visible to those who feel connected to his figure, attracted by his example and eager for his intercession.
In some way, his earthly face will be seen again. But that face – lest we forget – no longer points to itself, but to God. Just as the Psalm that we have just recited told us: “Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks. Your presence, O Lord, I seek.” Carlo, in some way, allows himself to be seen again, to invite us to seek with him the face of God. In the footsteps of Francis, who in this very Sanctuary stripped himself to the point of nakedness, to conform himself to Christ, Carlo does not ask that our attention stops at him: he is a voice, an invitation, a link. Our eyes, like his, point to God.
He passed among us like a meteor. Dead at the age of fifteen: what a misfortune, and what agony for his family and for those who loved him! But in God’s plans, that misfortune hid a great grace. That meteor has left a trail of light that makes it still alive and operating among us. He was sent as one of the disciples of whom the Gospel spoke to us; those who had the task of leading the way, to prepare the way for Jesus, and were sent to announce peace: “Peace to this house.” Sent like lambs in the midst of wolves, but knowing that they are the spokesmen of the Good Shepherd.
Carlo had this mission. He had it especially for young people, for his peers in this time that is so exciting, and, at the same time, so disoriented. A time where wonderful things are experienced through a technology that unites the world from one end to the other, but which so often becomes a tumult of contradictory information and messages, in which it is so difficult to find the compass of truth and love. Carlo is a boy of our time. A boy of the internet age, and a model of holiness of the digital age, as Pope Francis presented him in his letter to young people of the whole world. The computer, with its exhibition of miracles, has become his way of going through the streets of the world, like the first disciples of Jesus, to bring to hearts and homes the announcement of true peace, that quenches the thirst for the infinite that inhabits the human heart. That of young people who really want to live as “originals” and not become photocopies of passing fashions.
Carlo speaks to us of the eternal. As we prepare for his beatification, we also allow ourselves to be inspired by the veneration of his body and not to be satisfied with what passes, and to shoot towards the infinite the arrow of our life.