Fr. Massimo Fusarelli, OFM: We must be a 'Church that is always renewed'

date: 02.03.2023.

The XV General Assembly of the Union of Fraternities of Europe - UFME (Unio Fratrum Minorum Europae) is taking place in Medjugorje.  This assembly will last until March 3, 2023, and on Wednesday evening, at the end of the third day of this Assembly, The Holy Mass was held in the church of St.  James and celebrated by Massimo Fusarelli, Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, with the concelebration of 67 priests.  At the beginning of the Holy Mass, Medjugorje parish priest Fr. Zvonimir Pavičić said that he would like to pray for the victims in Greece and for their families.

Fra Massimo Fusarelli, at the beginning of his homily spoke about the readings for this day in which the prophet Jonah converts the Ninevites.

“We have just heard Jonah: it is more than a call to conversion addressed to the pagans. It is a solemn reminder to Israel to change its view of the pagans.

Jonah cannot admit that divine mercy goes beyond the limits of belonging to Israel.

We are told that salvation goes beyond the boundaries of the Church.

Francis of Assisi crossed the frontier between him and the world of the "infidels" of his time. He brought the proclamation of the Gospel and welcomed the presence of God's Spirit in the encounter with the sultan, a man and a world so far from him.

Jonah receives his call "on the road", on his way to that very city he does not want to visit or accept. God surprises him on the road and thus gives meaning to his mission. He does not have to bring a proclamation that he already knows but one that is greater than his understanding. It is not just the pagans that are to be converted, but also him and, with him, Israel. The prophet is asked for a profound transformation: from the truth believed and to be repeated (orthodoxy) to the truth lived in the act of going among the pagans (orthopraxis), and finally to the truth rich in an inner spiritual experience (orthopathy). Without the latter, truth can remain on the level of ideas, an abstract truth, ineffective without right action.

We need a dynamic Christianity, which was the way in the beginning and must be the way now and forever. We must believe with certainty in a truth that has taken flesh in our converted lives because it is rich in a new spirituality.”

Our Fraternity wishes to remain "on the way" in an openness and listening that can transform us. There are signs of this will among us, and at the same time, there are symptoms of closure, of fear when faced with the change taking place, of retreating to the ways already known and trodden.

We carry this tension within us. Jonah reminds us that without a personal and communal journey of profound transformation, sustained by a spirituality for this time, we will not emerge from the paralysis where we are often risk stopping.

“This requires the lifeblood of a renewed and powerful spirituality, reminding us that we are on a path of ongoing transformation. We must be the "ecclesia semper reformanda". If there is a need for reform, a change of form, for example, of certain institutional structures, as the General Chapter asked of us, it must be preceded and accompanied by a revitalisation of what animates the entire body of the Church and the Order - that is, spirituality and a fraternal spirituality. It is impossible to focus only on individual bodies and neglect attending to what unites them and infuses them with spirit and life. Sometimes we risk this distraction, letting ourselves get caught up in secondary aspects. We need to focus on this essential", said Fr. Massimo Fusarelli, and at the end he asked everyone to pray for the "brothers minor in Europe and in the world so that we can live our mission and vocation in this time".