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Servant of God Joseph De Piro – reflections from his life and writings; Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (C)

Servant of God Joseph De Piro – reflections from his life and writings; Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (C)

Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 97:1-6; Hebrew 1:1-6; John 1:1-18.

 

** Gospel Reading

In the beginning was the Word:

the Word was with God

and the Word was God.

He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things came to be,

not one thing had its being but through him.

All that came to be had life in him

and that life was the light of men,

a light that shines in the dark,

a light that darkness could not overpower.

A man came, sent by God.

His name was John.

He came as a witness,

as a witness to speak for the light,

so that everyone might believe through him.

He was not the light,

only a witness to speak for the light.

The Word was the true light

that enlightens all men;

and he was coming into the world.

He was in the world

that had its being through him,

and the world did not know him.

He came to his own domain

and his own people did not accept him.

But to all who did accept him

he gave power to become children of God,

to all who believe in the name of him

who was born not out of human stock

or urge of the flesh

or will of man

but of God himself.

The Word was made flesh,

he lived among us,

and we saw his glory,

the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father,

full of grace and truth.

John appears as his witness, He proclaims:

‘This is the one of whom I said:

He who comes after me

ranks before me

because he existed before me.’

Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received –

yes, grace in return for grace,

since, though the Law was given through Moses,

grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ.

No one has ever seen God;

it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart,

who has made him known.

 

** Further Reading

The Incarnation of the Son of God was central for Joseph De Piro. In his book “Found Among Sinners” Fr Martin Cilia dealt with this Mystery as conceived by our Founder:

Incarnation: the heart of God revealed

“De Piro believed that Christianity does not consist of abstract notions about God, but of faith in a person, a God with us. Jesus became “the image of an invisible God”. Through prayer De Piro developed a relationship which touched on a basic fundamental need; “Man’s heart is intended for God. The primary need of the human soul is to move towards God, to go near Him, to unite with Him. Man’s heart in God alone finds its life, peace and happiness.” De Piro writes: “In the Incarnation the divine nature is united to the human nature.” The incarnation of Jesus plays a central role in his writings. In this mystery he finds a source and a meeting point for his interior life and his missionary and apostolic life.

In his generosity Jesus has abandoned everything. As the Word he left Heavens, and all that he enjoyed in the presence of his Father; the peace of eternal joy. As a man he left everything to embrace a life of suffering and sacrifice.

In line with the spirituality of his time De Piro developed a spirituality of the heart through devotion to the Heart of Jesus. Such devotion grew in response to his ever-growing awareness of God’s love for him. The image of the heart was a favourite one:

The heart is the most important part of the human body. In fact, with a never-ending effort, it preserves our life and our health. And when in the evening after a day’s work, one’s arms are tired, one’s eyes are shut and the mind is paralysed by sleepiness, the heart keeps operating; it continues to beat and to see that life is preserved, because this is its grave responsibility.

This image helped De Piro to articulate that the love of God is always present: “He never sleeps nor slumbers Israel guard.” He contemplates, “This heart with all its light, all its love, all its treasures of His Grace, comes and lives in us.” Such devotion allowed De Piro to go deeper in the love of God and find safety and shelter in it.

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