Fr. Slavko's Commentary
Reflection on the Message of March 25, 1998
Also today I call you to fasting and renunciation. Little children, renounce that which hinders you from being closer to Jesus. In a special way I call you: Pray, because only through prayer will you be able to overcome your will and discover the will of God even in the smallest things. By your daily life, little children, you will become an example and witness that you live for Jesus or against Him and His will. Little children, I desire that you become apostles of love. By loving, little children, it will be recognized that you are mine. Thank you for having responded to my call."
I greet all those who will be reading these thoughts about the March 1998 message. Before we try to say something about it let us again refer to last month's message and remember what Mary told us at the beginning of Lent. Again she confirmed for us that she is with us, and this is always of great importance to us. We do not want to forget that it is only through Mary's presence that Meğugorje can be understood, and in no other way. She called us to come closer to her in prayer and, in order to be able to understand Jesus' love, closer also to Him in our reflecting on His suffering and Death. This was, of course, the message with which we started Lent, and so we could also read in it that we are called to renunciation and to fasting. Through prayer, renunciation and fasting our heart should then open itself to the gift of faith and of love toward the Church and the others around us. So we must now ask ourselves what we did with this message. Did Mary's words help me on the path toward resurrection? Did Mary's words, blessing and presence help me in deciding to renounce something or to fast more than before? Did this message help me open myself to the gift of faith and love? That is the purpose of that message -- to be of help to all of us. May this be so. Let us pray that it does.
At the moment Vicka, Mirjana and Ivanka are at home, while Jacov and Marija are in Italy with their families. Ivan is in Ireland at the moment and will be here with his family by Easter. Mirjana had her yearly message on March 18. There were many people present at the apparition. At 1:00 p.m. everyone had started to pray and then at 1:45 Mary appeared to Mirjana where she then stayed with her for 5 minutes. Mary spoke to Mirjana about the secrets, blessed all those present and gave the following message:
"Dear Children, I call you to be my light in order to enlighten all those who still live in darkness, to fill their hearts with peace of my Son. Thank you for having responded to my call."
This message is really the call from the Gospels. Jesus says about Himself, "I am the light of the world," and He told His Apostles to become the light for the others. Mary's wish that we bring the light to those who are still living in darkness is really our main assignment as it is described in the Gospels. So, for this too we ought to pray, that the light of Easter may enlighten us, so that we thereby may become the light for others. Let us also avoid all darkness and open our hearts to peace, which means to Jesus, the Son of God.
Medjugorje has again started anew to liven up, and many pilgrims came here for the Feast of the Annunciation. Here it already suffices only to say how things are here in Meğugorje. On the day of the Feast, March 25, as well as on the following days, Masses were celebrated in 13 languages. Several thousand pilgrims were present, and there were especially many from Romania, and from innumerable other countries. We hope that Mary will still call many more people to come here and that many more will come to receive the graces that abound here. This is the second message of this time of Lent, and so...
ALSO TODAY I CALL YOU TO FASTING AND RENUNCIATION
This is also a reason for us to again think a little about fasting. Fasting is a biblical message, for all prophets fasted and called the others to faith, prayer, fasting so that peace could come. Jesus Himself fasted and most certainly Mary did too. Fasting was always present in the Church and all the Saints had deep experiences with fasting. Fasting was also always associated with the Eucharist, and the Church had the rule that from midnight before until the moment of receiving Holy Communion one was not to eat anything, not even a drop of water. Then this was reduced to 3 hours and then finally to 1 hour. Sadly to say many people have today even forgotten about this one hour of abstinence. In that Mary calls us to fasting, which means to live on bread and water alone, she especially wants us to discover Jesus in the bread of the Holy Eucharist. Fasting has an important significance for our body, for our physical health, for the life of our soul, and especially for our mental life. Jesus Himself bestowed a certain strength to fasting, when He told the Apostles that a certain type of evil spirit could only be sent away through prayer and fasting. In the practice of exorcists there has always been the combination of prayer and of fasting. Mary has called us to live on bread and water two days of the week -- on Wednesdays and Fridays. Bread is the symbol of life, bread is the way to the Eucharist, and Jesus Himself remains with us in the form of bread. In this way we will more easily understand that we too are called to take the path of bread so that we may become bread for others as Jesus is bread for us. Fasting and renunciation is the way to inner freedom and the opening of our hearts for everything that God wishes to give us. I really hope that we will all have the courage to fast and to renounce all that which has enslaved us. Mary says...
LITTLE CHILDREN, RENOUNCE THAT WHICH HINDERS YOU FROM BEING CLOSER TO JESUS
This entails another really important question for us. In this year of the Holy Spirit we should decide to pray for this intention every day, if not even constantly. Only in the Light of the Holy Spirit can we discover all which hinders us, and only from Him will we receive the strength to free ourselves from everything that distances us from Jesus and hinders us from being close to Him. A diagnosis is certainly valid for us all, and it is that it is only our selfishness and our pride that distances us from Jesus and from the other people. This is why it is important for us all to constantly pray that a yearning for Jesus always remains in our hearts. This is a grace that the Holy Spirit will certainly give us when we ask Him for it. When we examine things more closely we will discover that it is usually the good things that keep us away from Jesus. For instance, when we are healthy, when we have no problems, we run away from God as well as from one another, but when we have problems we again come closer to Him and one another. So sometimes it can be said that it is the difficulties, the suffering and the cross, that bring us back onto the right path. Then we can also discover the reason for suffering and for the cross, but also to pray that we in suffering do not go away from God even further but rather to find our way back to Him. One thing is sure, Jesus did everything to come close to us. His becoming man on the day of the Annunciation is also proof for this. His name is "Emmanuel" -- God with us. And then the Eucharist is the final sign of His proximity to us, and His love for us. Again, all that remains for us to do is to pray that in our hearts the yearning for God and our wish to be close to Him may constantly grow. In this message Mary repeats a subject that is very important in every school -- to discover the will of God. As a mother she again says...
IN A SPECIAL WAY I CALL YOU: PRAY, BECAUSE ONLY THROUGH PRAYER WILL YOU BE ABLE TO OVERCOME YOUR WILL AND DISCOVER THE WILL OF GOD
...and to accept it. But the condition for this is again prayer. If we pray then we will find Him...
EVEN IN THE SMALLEST THINGS
This is the great theme of Marian Spirituality -- God's will. The Feast of the Annunciation, the day on which she gave us this message, helps us to understand her wish. Mary is often called the 'New Eve' or the 'Mother of the Living.' It is not a mere accident that this happened. Eve was the woman who was disobedient to the will of God. She knew Him but did not follow Him. At one point she does what the tempter says and neglects the will of God. With this, man and all of humanity lost the friendship with God, man became fearful of God, and could no longer tolerate His way. Mary is the new Eve who with a bit of fear asks how all this can happen, but this was not a negating question, only a request for an explanation. So, when the angel said, "God is Almighty," Mary said, "I am the servant of the Lord, may it happen to me according to your word." She did not say that she understood everything, only that she would trust. She believed, and with these words, "Your will be done," the new way in this world began. The conversion of world history had happened by way of Mary's 'yes,' for the will of God. So what else could she want but that each of us, and again at this very moment, says, "Your will be done." God's will is what is good for us. We may ask for everything, but then Jesus also taught us the Lord's Prayer so that we with our hearts can also say, "Your will be done." God has his plans for us, and He wants us to work alongside of Him; but often we are taken away from Him by fear and distrust, and from this we simply must let ourselves be freed. Our will should cooperate with God's will and we are, so to say, obligated to first seek God's will, and then to accept it. We are always in danger of distancing ourselves from God when we want to follow our own will. This is because our understanding, our freedom and our abilities to recognize are so limited and therefore we can so easily go astray in our decisions. That is why the most certain way for us to cooperate with God's will, is to always seek it and to always accept it, including in the smallest things. Generally speaking we can, of course, know ahead of time what His will is, for His will is that our love, faith, hope and trust in Him are always growing. Through this we will be able to build a new relationship toward ourselves, toward God and toward the others around us. We must be careful that our prayers do not all become battles with the will of God, or that through prayer we might be trying to change the will of God because it is God who is waiting for our will to change. Someone once said that they prayed for something for a very long time and nothing had happened, so they said to God, "God, wouldn't it be nice if Your will would just for once cooperate with my will?" We should also be careful when we say that something is "the will of God" and especially so when it concerns suffering. The will of God is only what is good for us and even when we suffer or we experience innocent or completely unexplainable suffering such as that of children and other innocent ones, then we may still hope and believe that everything will turn out for the good, and that even then there is a reason for it. This even when we can never discover what it is. Because of the distrust in so many hearts today there is so much fear, depression, lack of a will or a will to destroy oneself or even destroy the others. We can say, in a way, that God deserves our trust. He is a good God and His will is that we live in peace. All of us will naturally ask Mary that she give us peace, that we may discover the will of God, that we are protected from our own will, because we all know that it often happens that our own will takes us from peace to distress, from light to darkness, from love to hate, and from life to death. Therefore we must, in the Light of God, and with His strength overcome our will and submit ourselves to the will of God. If we motivate ourselves to do so, then we will also do what Mary says in the next sentence.
BY YOUR DAILY LIFE ... YOU WILL BECOME AN EXAMPLE AND WITNESS THAT YOU LIVE FOR JESUS OR AGAINST HIM AND HIS WILL
Our life, the words we speak, our actions and all the rest of our life will become a testimony for Jesus, but when we do not act in this manner then we will be acting against Him and his will. So, there is nothing that we say or do which stays indifferent or without purpose or result. Either it is with or for Jesus or it is against Him and His will. Then Mary calls us...
I DESIRE THAT YOU BECOME APOSTLES OF LOVE
Certainly this is the most beautiful assignment that we could possibly have from Mary and therefore in the name of Jesus, but to become Apostles of love we must carry love in our heart. So one of the very first intentions for which we must pray is, "Put love into my heart." But God cannot demand anything from us that He first did not give us. In German it is very well said when one says, "What is given is the very foundation of what is expected." Because none of us can be given an assignment when we have not been given something to begin with. God of love wants to give us His love so that we then become His Apostles of love. There are certainly many specific assignments that we can do, such as our simply recognizing Jesus in the sick, the poor and the suffering, and to meet Him there with love. All words of love really stay empty when they are not confirmedin practical life. This love is shown in every meeting, in every word, in every look and in every act. Or every word and every act will become witness that we are aware that we have no love within us. It is not a judgment when I say that all of us are very far from this love, and that is why we are unable to become Apostles of love, but still we may hope that we will grow in love, moreover we are sure that we can grow in love. God wants to give us this love, for He gave us everything and did not even protect His own Son but rather gave Him for us. He will give us everything, but we must still ask for it as well as and from our side, reject everything that is not loving. Especially there where the call is that we ought to...
Renounce that which hinders you from being closer to Jesus...and therefore closer to love, finds its validity. In the last sentence of her message to us Mary says that...
BY LOVING ... IT WILL BE RECOGNIZED THAT YOU ARE MINE
Through our love we will show to whom we belong, and love is the witness and the primary feature of Christians. It is quite unusual when we often call ourselves Christians when in fact we are extremely far from true love. Of Mother Teresa something is often said that can become an inspiration for us all. She was once taking care of a very sick person when he asked her, "Have you a mother?" -- "Yes," she responded. Then he asked her, "Why did you leave her in order to be with me?" -- And she answered, "I will tell you that later." We know what she then said, and it was that she loved Jesus and therefore loved everyone, and most especially the poor and the sick. So, with this message we now have a motherly and an accompanying word for the Feast of the Annunciation, and with gratitude for these words we now wish to pray.
God, our Father, we thank You that You are speaking to us in these times by way of Mary. We ask You for the grace of fasting and renunciation, and that you free us from all that hinders us from being closer to Jesus, Your Son, Emmanuel. Free us of all pride and selfishness and every possible fear or distrust. Give us a deep yearning for His proximity and through Him for proximity to You, O Father. Give us the spirit of prayer and through Your spirit reveal to us Your will for us, and help us overcome our own will and that our will may never again distance us from You. Give us the strength that we may, through our life become Apostles of love. Forgive us for all that is in us that is not loving. We ask You in the name of all baptized and all those who call themselves Christians that we may decide for love and for peace. We pray that our hearts may become open for the resurrection that You, O Jesus, offer us through Your Resurrection. Mary, with You, we ask the Lord to bless all of us, all the pilgrims, and the whole world, so that in this year of the Holy Spirit we may all become enlightened with You and, through Your intercession, in finding the path to the Lord. Through Christ, our Lord, a joyful Feast of the Resurrection! Amen.
Last Modified 03/29/98