Monsignor Christian Lépine (Mass for the 19th anniversary of Fr. Giussani's death)

"Beggars of Jesus Christ"

The homily of Msgr Lepine, Archbishop of Montreal at the Memorial Mass for the 19th anniversary of the death of the founder of Communion and Liberation and the 42nd anniversary of the pontifical recognition of the Fraternity
Msgr Lepine, Archbishop of Montreal

Are you beggars of Jesus Christ?

In the mid-1990s, Pope John Paul II invited renewal and evangelization movements to Rome for a large gathering of new communities. Some of them were called to give testimonies. Father Giussani delivered a very brief testimony. How can one condense decades of journey that animated his personal life and the founding life of Communion and Liberation into a few minutes? The key word in his message was "beggar."

The first beggar is Jesus Christ, the beggar of our hearts. He presents himself to us as thirsting for us, echoing Jesus' cry on the cross, "I thirst." When Jesus says on the cross, "I thirst," humanity, wounded and scourged by sin, has nothing better to offer than vinegar, which is far from refreshing.
Jesus Christ thirsts for us even before we thirst for him. By the time a desire for God rises in my heart, Jesus Christ has long since thirsted for my soul, my heart, and my very spirit.

Jesus Christ is hungry, hungry for us, hungry for our love, presenting himself as a beggar. To be a beggar is very challenging; it means that without receiving from you, I have nothing. I come to beg because I have nowhere else to go. It's difficult to be a beggar. In his final remarks, "beggar" is a key word: Jesus Christ is a beggar for our souls, and we are called to be beggars for Jesus Christ. In other words, without Jesus Christ in my life, I have nothing firm, true, beautiful, enduring, or nourishing. I have nothing that quenches my thirst and hunger.

Are we thirsty and hungry for Jesus Christ? It's a strange question because being hungry or thirsty for Jesus Christ is simultaneously a real gift. It's a grace we can cooperate with, a gift we can nurture. If, having thirsted for Jesus Christ, I do nothing to feed this thirst, it may weaken. If I hunger for Jesus Christ and do nothing to feed that hunger, it may weaken, and other things may take its place.

It's a great grace to hunger and thirst for Jesus Christ; it's a great gift from God to be in His presence as beggars for Jesus Christ. Communion and Liberation gives their members—and you—a testimony of people who are beggars for Jesus Christ, feeding their hunger and thirst in Jesus Christ. How? You are beggars for the Word of God. To be a beggar for the Word of God is to enter the mystery of Jesus Christ, feeding your hunger and thirst for Jesus Christ. In Communion and Liberation, you find a community that nourishes your hunger for the Word, your thirst for the Word of God.

This is why the Word of God requires study, but first of all, it requires acceptance. God does His work in us through His Word. Of course, we're called to study, reflect, and share it, but we embrace the Word of God in a context of acceptance. St. Peter, St. Paul, and the Bible affirm it: the Bible is the Word of God. While Jesus Christ is the Word of God in person, the Bible expresses that Word. Written down by people inspired by the Holy Spirit, this holy story is truly the Word of God. Nourishing our thirst and following the Word of God is to follow Jesus Christ, feeding our desire for God.

In your Communion and Liberation family, you also have the Eucharistic bread: Jesus Christ present. Hungering for the Eucharist, thirsting for the Eucharist, and hungering for the Eucharist is feeding your hunger and thirst for Jesus Christ. It's becoming more and more a beggar of Jesus Christ, a beggar of His presence—that's what love is all about. Love says, "I can't live without you." Receiving the Word as nourishment and the presence of Christ as sustenance, growing in your thirst for God, you grow as beggars of Jesus Christ. You grow in the awareness that even if you have all the goods of the earth, without Jesus Christ, you have nothing. Even with the most beneficial human relationships, without love, it's not eternal. Without God, it's not eternal. Think in terms of thirst and of life that remains, eternal life, as Jesus said to the Samaritan woman.

We need to think in terms of thirsting for God, hungering for Jesus Christ, being beggars for Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ brings eternal life. He is eternal life. In Jesus Christ, eternal life is not a project or an aspiration but a reality. He is the only Son of the eternal Father. To be a beggar of Jesus Christ is to be a beggar of eternity, a beggar of eternal life. Father Giussani's teaching evokes the human paradox: we are made for eternity, and God wants to give us eternal life; we cannot give it to ourselves. We are made for infinite love; God wants to give us His infinite love, which we cannot possibly give to ourselves.

If we follow the Lord's Prayer from today's Gospel, we could also focus on hungering for God's Word, hungering for the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, and hungering for God's will. Are we hungry for God's will? In his conversation with the Samaritan woman, Jesus says something astonishing: his food, what nourishes him, is to do the will of his Father in heaven. It's his food, and when he teaches us the Lord's Prayer, he instructs us to say, "Thy will be done."

Hungering for God's will, hungering for God's plan, hungering for God's revelation, and hungering for the truth—God is the way, the truth, and the life. Hungering for this truth delves deep into our hearts, souls, and spirits, to a depth that eludes us, a depth that God comes to inhabit.
In Communion and Liberation, a place of encounter and experience, you discover the value of being nourished by the Word, the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, and God's will. It becomes, for the church and society, a place of outreach, a place of witness: witnessing to God's hunger and witnessing that the path of God's hunger, the path of being a beggar of Jesus Christ as we journey together. It's a liberating path because the One who is the truth also brings liberation—a path that makes hope grow, lightens the heart, and makes aspirations grow. When we are nourished by Jesus Christ, we know that living and loving by God's grace is worth it.

So, let us be beggars of Jesus Christ, who is himself a beggar for our souls. Let us be beggars of the Word of God, of the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, beggars of the will of God. By doing so, we witness to each other that Christ is alive and at work, working in the depths of our souls and through our souls. As we grow together, we are there for each other, learning to be there for the Church, for the world, and for society.

Fr. Luigi Giussani’s testimony during the meeting of the Holy Father John Paul II with the ecclesial movements and the new communities. St Peter’s Square, Rome, May 30, 1998 “In the Simplicity of My Heart I Have Gladly Given You Everything” (


Monsignor, every year when you come to the Way of the Cross I'm always struck by the fact that you read Father Giussani's words without adding anything, you enter into the words in a truly mysterious way that touches me deeply and I like to thank you every year because I don't have anything to add either but just highlight three or four points that you communicated to us in the homily. First and foremost, this evening you took as your starting point Father Giussani's words of May 30, 1998: 'Let us be beggars of Jesus Christ who is a beggar of our souls'. You reminded us that CL offers everyone a testimony of people who are beggars of Jesus Christ. You also talked about CL's family, something I really liked. We talk a lot about CL's friendship, but you went a little further with this idea of family and really the meaning of a family with all the weaknesses of a family the wounds of a family, the beauty of a family, the concord of a family, the love of a family. Thank you for reminding us of this. And at the end you said: 'to be beggars for Jesus Christ we do this for ourselves, for each other, for Christ and the world, and it's a profound reminder for all of us, to do all this for ourselves and for the world.