The homily of Rev. Fr. General, Adolfo Nicolás, S.J.,
on the occasion of the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola,
Church of Gesu, Rome, 31 July, 2012
Translated from original in Italian

Perhaps, the crisis we are experiencing now made me think that the family is the best platform, the best gym, for holiness in the Church today. In the family, there is always the need to make choices and the mode of those choices is that someone has to sacrifice so that others may live; and are always the children who must live. Then the parents learn, in the family, how to be Christians, how to become Saints.

The crisis we are experiencing now has and continues to bring many choices for us, especially for us who live in the North or the West, depending on how you look at the world. Because the human family, we who are in the North and in the West, must make choices those are not easy, those are not pleasant. We must reduce the consumption we are accustomed to; we must live with less expenses, less pleasures, less comforts. If you recall, there was a time - I believe that the time of the encounters in America, there was a wide spread slogan: "Arms for prisoners", "weapons against prisoners." It was a trade: “weapons in exchange of prisoners.” I believe that in our world, we need another slogan, not that one, because that one does not help. But, perhaps, to live a poorer life so that others may have life; so that others also can live.

This is the slogan that we need to have, “poverty to give life.” Simplicity, so others may live at least with the minimum in order to feel human. Saying, “make room for the South,” does not help, because there is no room! The world is limited. It's time to share, to make choices where we cannot move even a little so that others will find their place. There is no place! If we want others to live, we must also give up those things we think are personal rights! We must also give what seems normal for us!

I think this is the message of Deuteronomy, today. You can choose life or death. And the message is to choose life, but life for everyone. The second reading from the Letter to the Ephesians, I think, confirms this view. I must confess that when I this saw for the first time, I had a little fear! “Take up arms and get ready, because the battle is very strong!” it is a battle, but not a human one; it is a cosmic battle. Therefore, it creates a little fear.

However, I believe that the experience we have had recently in Africa, is a great help. Let us try like the Africans who have a great sense of life, joy, and hospitality. And this shows why the Epistle to the Ephesians is not scary, because it is a question of the heart. Only if the heart is changed one is ready for a great battle. It's not a question of will, not a matter of planning for an ascetic life. It is a matter of changing the heart. It is so simple, yet so difficult. I believe these days, in Africa, we heard that Africans are donors; donors, even if they themselves had been robbed for centuries, although they have lost everything they had before, continue to be donors. To give, to receive, and to give even what little they have. And the generosity of a people has suffered greatly. Since it has suffered much, it knows what it means to suffer. Then, the heart moves and feels compassion for others, feels that closeness that only those who have suffered can understand. They know what it means to have nothing: no home, no food, and no friends! That 's why we had a time of great joy, community, and very generous hospitality. I think now is the time for Europe to be generous like that. It 's time for us to receive the other. To have such hospitality although it is difficult, although it will be costly, even to leave aside so many things that are already part of our “private treasures.”

I think it's time to receive another and not to reject anyone. It 's time not to complain about the little things that we lose. It 's time to discover that the whole human family is one family. In my office, I have a globe and there I have put something that I had in the Philippines, belonged to my predecessor, and when you see the globe, we understand very well that the whole world is united by the seas, and then the quote says in Chinese: "A sea, a family." We say: "One God, one Christ, one family". Because this is the time for such a world, is not only of the Internet or of globalization. It is God who makes us discover that from the beginning there was only one family. When we arrived at the first Mass, the Provincial of East Africa received us, said, "Welcome home”. “And I hope you know it,” he added, – “this is your home. Here began everything. All of humanity originated in Africa. So, welcome back.”

The Gospel tells us that Jesus, as we read in other parts of the Gospel, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; the “Way,” not the street that goes up. Perhaps in this church with these paintings we are used to look up, but the way of Jesus is at the bottom. It is not the way up, is the way down - The way of service, so that others may live. Serve because they feel freer, so that others may share in that joy of being a family - to feel human. The invitation of Jesus is not an invitation to have “achievements - to go up.” It’s an invitation, as we heard in the Gospel, to deny ourselves and follow Jesus for the life of all, to give life.

The message of Jesus does not promise that everything will be easier now. The message of Jesus is, why all live, we must share, we must participate and let others participate. We are so bowed, so
weak to achievements - to going up. Maybe in a baroque church that is a little harder to explain. The crisis affects our desires, our dreams, and Jesus invites us to participate in his wishes and dreams. He doesn’t tell us that all our dreams are good, but invites us to a life of participation, communion, where all find home, hospitality, life, sharing, friendship, family. All these things become difficult in crisis. Jesus invites us to all things that the crisis portrays difficult.

I think the memory of St. Ignatius we celebrate together today is a great help, because the crisis was never a curse for St. Ignatius. The crisis is the moment you can hear the voice of the Lord. The crisis challenges us and pushes us to question about what we consider normal, ordinary, and then we try something deeper, something more evangelical, something closer to our hearts. And maybe we can find that out right now. Due to the fact that there is a crisis, we find that there is a humanity and that humanity is our family. And so we ask today that in light of the choices he made in his life, St. Ignatius, in the light of the choice that Jesus made in his life, we too can make the right choices to continue as followers of Jesus - followers of the Gospel.