Cathedral Church, Saturday 19th January 2008
The Word of God which Mother Church provides us with today, states: “The Lord has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb that Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him” [Is 49,5] (from the First Reading of today, 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time). The people of God gathered in this Cathedral to give you a deserved warm welcome as our new Apostolic Nuncio, can definitely greet you with the same words: the Lord has spoken who formed you as his servant from the womb that Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him. In other words, the Lord has spoken through His Holiness the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth, and has sent you amongst us so that the Gozitans may be brought back and gathered to him.
On September 29th 2007, I was fortunate to take part in your Episcopal consecration, presided by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s. On that occasion the Pope remarked that in the ancient Church, bishops were described as “angels” of their Church, whereby expressing a close connection between the Bishop’s ministry and theAngel’s mission. The Pope reminded you,Your Excellency [or should I say us!], that as God’s messengers, Angels bring God to men, they open heaven and thus open earth. Precisely because they are with God, they can also be very close to man and so they speak to man of what constitutes his true being.
Unfortunately modern trends surfacing in our society show that we need an angel [ a Nuncio] to announce the truth and help us to find our true nature and to discern and accept God’s plan for us. This is why we receive you with wide open arms: we firmly believe that you are an “angel” with a mission for our Church and for our society. The Apostolic Nuncio is an angel with a difference: as the representative of the Pope, you secure our filial bond with the Holy Father, a beacon of truth, guarantee of authentic Catholic faith and bulwark of human dignity.
For this pastoral year we are being accompanied by the icon of the Annunciation to Mary of the Incarnation of God. As we meditate this icon, we encounter the Archangel Gabriel who, in Pope Benedict’s words: “knocks at Mary’s door and through him God himself asks Mary for her “yes” to his project. Even today, God knocks again and again at the door of our heart. In the Book of Revelation, God says to the “angel” of the Church of Loadicea: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and be with him” (3,20).
Your Excellency, Christ’s Church in Gozo, today, is confident that during your stay amongst us you will keep echoing these words to us, so that we “may be brought back and gathered to Him”.