“20 days ago I heard the call to follow God in the Focolari. I chose Him and to Him I want to give my whole self. I have no other plans in life than to do His Will. I would like to enter into the Focolari not for the joy or the beautiful atmosphere. I want to enter into the Focolari for Jesus Abandoned (on the Cross). The least I can do is to give my life in exchange for a little bit of His Immense Love.”
My good friend Rino Zucchero wrote me these words when he had decided to consecrate his life to the Focolari movement. They echo the words of Psalm 116: “What will I give to the Lord for all he has given me?” (v. 12).
At the beginning of every generous response to God’s call there seems to be an awareness that we are in debt; a debt that we can never repay. We’re loved so much that we can’t do anything other than desire to love in return; overflowing joy, gratitude, and the desire to say “yes!”
“The Church knows what makes young people strong and attractive: the ability to rejoice at a fresh beginning, giving oneself unreservedly, renewing oneself and starting again for new conquests” (Message of 2nd Vatican Council to young people, Dec. 8, 1965). This message remains true today. This is the attitude of young people and especially those who live with faith.
The strength and attractiveness of the young Mary of Nazareth led her to rejoice at what God had done and would continue to do. The angel invites her to: “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you…Behold you will bear a son and will name him Jesus…” (Lk 1:28-31).
“After hearing the words, Mary asks herself and the divine messenger about their meaning entering into dialogue with him, seeking to understand the reason, (this is not passive!). Finally she responds with complete availability and generosity, taking on the responsibility that God has called her to with faith and obedience as the handmaid of the Lord: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done in me according to your word” (Luke 1:38 – the verb expresses desire and not just passive acceptance)”. (Fr. Giuseppe Pulcinelli)
Mary’s Magnificat clearly reveals her intense interior life: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit exults in God my Savior because he has seen the humility of his handmaid… The Almighty has done great things in me and Holy is his Name.” (Lk 1:46ff). Mary can’t do anything other than sing with her whole interior world, with all her soul, the wonders God has done in the history of Israel and her own history.
The Great and Almighty chooses the small. He chose her; small, young, and insignificant according to human criteria, from a small town of no importance and made her Mother of God and of all men.
This indestructible faith does not mean that Mary never needed to walk. Lumen Gentium 58 tells us that Mary “advanced in her pilgrimage of faith and preserved her union with the Son to the Cross.” She didn’t understand everything God was doing in her life, but had to constantly renew her faith. Twice in Luke’s Gospel, “His mother kept all these things in her heart.”
This phrase “expresses an attitude of remaining open to the mystery, almost an invitation to preserve and interiorize what seems too great to be understood and learned without a journey of faith…This is how the Evangelist proposes Mary as a model for every believer” (Fr. Giuseppe Pulcinelli).
Every believer made young by faith can look to Mary not only in her “…ability to rejoice for what begins,” but also “in her renewing and starting again for new conquests.” If we remain open to the mystery of life, we will live all events with joy and expectation of new things.
Mary did not expect to be chosen as Mother of God and of humanity, yet she lets herself be chosen. Let’s let ourselves be chosen!
Giuseppe Belli can be an example for us. He was a father with 2 kids and 6 grandchildren. For years, he was a good man, but not faithful to attending Mass on Sundays. At 61 years old, he met with the Focolari Movement and his life was renewed: “I’m still the man I was before, but some transformation has happened: My family relationships are totally changed; I’ve never felt so young and strong.”
His days were intense. He knew people from all walks of life. He brought the Eucharist to the sick. He had was involved in his parish. He spent time with those in jail. Every day he visited a blind couple. He could do all this because he listened to “that voice” that spoke in his heart during prayer and throughout the day.
After a trip, Giuseppe got sick and went to the hospital. All of a sudden his situation was terminal. His daughter Anna Maria asked him: “Dad, are you happy?” and he replied, “Yes.” Then he asked his family to sing a Hail Mary with him. He lived a few more months. A friend wrote, “As his body got worse, his spirit grew and touched us all. Everyone was amazed at his smile,” even in the midst of suffering and awaiting the Heavenly Jerusalem.
1) Sing every night your personal “Magnificat” recalling the graces you’ve received during the day.
2) Commit to daily prayer with Scripture, listening to “that voice” to grow in faith and not fear the unexpected Mystery that envelops our whole life.