Fr Richard's homily for today
Highway to heaven
Yesterday in Assisi, there was a quite extraordinary event: the beatification of a young British-born 15-year-old boy who died just 14 years ago of leukaemia. Blessed Carlo Acutis, known especially for his devotion to the Eucharist and care for the poor, was raised to the altar of heaven with his mum and dad and siblings he never knew sitting in the front row. Blessed Carlo has been described as the first “millennial” saint. As one priest in Assisi put it, it’s the first time in history we see a blessed in his tomb dressed in sneakers, jeans and a t-shirt!
Carlo was born and baptised in London in 1991 before he and his parents returned to their native Italy shortly after, settling in Milan. He was a normal lad – who liked football, video games, and eating Nutella. He was popular among his peers for his humour and friendliness. But, most importantly, he was devoted to Our Lord, Our Lady, and the Church. His passion was for the Eucharist, going to Mass each day and receiving daily Communion. The Divine Charity which he received at Mass moved him to be charitable to others. He used his first savings to buy a sleeping bag for a homeless man he often saw on the way to Mass. He’s known as the “cyberapostle” of the Eucharist because he used his skills in computers to create a website that documents all the Eucharistic miracles in history.
Reflecting on Blessed Carlo’s devotion to the Mass and looking at our readings for today, we remember that the Eucharist is the wedding feast of the Lamb, a foretaste of the eternal banquet we are destined to enjoy in heaven; that feast which the Prophet Isaiah describes in our First Reading: a banquet of rich food and of fine wines.
“Eucharist is my highway to heaven,” was Blessed Carlo’s most famous quote. The same is for us. We are invited each week to the wedding feast between Christ and His Church where heaven unites with earth in praise of God; where Jesus Himself penetrates deep into our heart. Our participation in the Mass is our “yes” to the invitation to the eternal wedding feast. The Lord warns us in the Gospel that there are consequences for rejecting this invitation, or for being insufficiently prepared for it like the man without the wedding garment.
Today’s parable gives us the opportunity to reflect – are we sufficiently prepared for heaven? When this remarkable young man was told that his leukaemia was terminal, he said: “I am happy to die because I have lived my life without wasting a minute on those things which do not please God.” The question is: can we say the same about ourselves?