Reflection on the Message of April 25, 2000
"Dear children! Also today I call you to conversion. You are concerned too much about material things and little about spiritual ones. Open your hearts and start again to work more on your personal conversion. Decide everyday to dedicate time to God and to prayer until prayer becomes a joyful meeting with God for you. Only in this way will your life have meaning and with joy you will contemplate eternal life. Thank you for having responded to my call."
Again I greet all those who are trying to follow the messages of Medjugorje. I wish everyone a Happy Easter. I wish everyone a real experience of Jesus having resurrected -- an experience of peace and joy. As usual I would like to remind us first of what Mary told us on March 25 as preparation for Easter. There she was calling to use time, because time is grace. It is clear to all of us that the best way to see who we are or who the others are is when we pay attention to how we or they use their time. Our values can be found wherever we use our time. If someone only uses his time only for the material, then he is a materialist. If someone only uses his time for his own enjoyment, then he is a nihilist, and so forth. So, watching how and where our time is used is how we will be able to tell who we are and in the same way who the others are. We are built in a way that our bodies, our minds and our souls all need time, and a person who spends his time on all three of these areas is then a well-balanced person and at the same time a good Christian. We all know that the excuse we use the most often about taking care of our spiritual side concerns time, in other words, our not having sufficient time for it. Here we must again not forget that the key to having the needed time is not the hours but the love, because for that which we love, for that we will use our time. Using time well signifies graces, so lost time also signifies lost graces. Mary also told us that she is with us. This fact is the one and only new message of Medjugorje, because without Mary's special presence here with us, one cannot successfully explain Medjugorje. In this vein, the Communists claimed that this was a counter-revolution, then one said that it concerned mental illness, drugs or symptoms of addiction, then manipulations, and so forth to this very day. None of this is true, and so without Mary's presence here, one simply remains unable to explain Medjugorje correctly. So this should help us to very consciously thank God for Mary's presence here, for her daily apparitions, for her messages to us and especially for her prayers for us. She said afterall that she was interceding for each of us so that our hearts may open themselves to God and to His love for us. Mary the intercessor is our mother and this is our certainty and our real hope, because God will hear her prayers, and so we will receive the graces or become open to the graces. Lent was a special time in which we could discover God's love for us in Jesus Christ, because this love was ready to suffer for us, and to go to the Cross and to die there for us. It is in that suffering that we ought to discover His love for us and then to open ourselves to it. It is here that we all should ask ourselves about our prayer, or about what is it that we wish from prayer. Do we in prayer only ask for and speak of ourselves, or is it that we first of all ask God to touch us with His love so that we can then respond to that love in changing our lives with this love for us and for the others. Then we should also ask ourselves what it is that closes us from God's love and what was it that helped open us to it? In any case, it is mandatory that we work on ourselves and Mary called us to pray without ceasing. Prayer without ceasing is possible when we remember that prayer is a meeting with God and it is this meeting that can be without ceasing. It is the meetings that occur at Holy Mass, at Confession and at Adoration and which then are carried out in our meetings with the others and with nature. In this way our whole life will be lived as a meeting with God and then this will also become a joy because it is possible that all meetings become joyful because that which we love will always bring us joy. The danger for us is that when the love is absent, then the meeting is something that frightens us. So, we simply wish to continue on the path along with Mary thankful that she is with us and we will then also learn to use our time in such a way that we will at some point also have become worthy of entering into Eternal Glory.
Regarding the visionaries, at the moment Vicka is here at home and she continues daily to meet with the pilgrims. Marija is in Italy, and Ivan is still in the USA but is supposed to be coming back soon. We believe that these three are still having their daily apparitions wherever they happen to be. Mirjana, Ivanka and Jacov are all living here and of these Mirjana and Jacov do occasionally still speak with the pilgrims while Ivanka, as we know, has pulled herself back and lives quietly with her family.
We have celebrated a very beautiful Easter with pilgrims from every corner of the world. The stream of pilgrims has again increased since Easter and right now we have many German and Italian pilgrims as well as English-speaking pilgrims. There are also Brazilians and Argentinians here, also Koreans and Lebanese, Slovenians, the Czech Republic and Slovakia and so forth. There are, thank God, very many people here and there are also enough Priests here to hear Confessions. Much prayer is happening in Medjugorje and this is certainly Mary's wish and her intention.
ALSO TODAY I CALL YOU TO CONVERSION
This is one of the primary messages and so Mary has shown a prophetic structure in her messages. This means that God promises peace but it is also we who must first convert, pray, fast, and have faith, and this is the way of the true prophets. God promises peace, but it is man who must do something and it is what man does that we have come to call conversion. Conversion is really our turning from the world back to God. Conversion is a process which really never ends, and of this we must become really conscious and so we may never forget this in our spiritual lives. Those who say "I have converted" must be very careful not to come to think that they have reached the end of a process, for it is much better to always think of something that has just started, and so what we have come to call conversion is only the beginning of an on-going activity of turning around, of a change in our direction. But the process of our conversion stays with us for the rest of our lives. This first of all concerns an aversion -- an aversion to the world, an aversion to all sin, an aversion to oneself, to other people, to all the material things, and so an aversion to all that which could or does in fact hinder us on the way to God. This dimension of aversion in this ongoing process of conversion also takes all of our lives, because we must fight; and this is a fight against all temptations, against all sin, against all those mentalities and logic of sin which never let go of us and never dissipate. These always try to enlist us. The second dimension of conversion is the turning toward something and here is meant a turning toward God. The more we turn toward God, the more we avert from and become free of the sinful relationships to ourselves, to the others, to the material and in general to the whole world. But in so doing we do not in any way lose ourselves, the others, the material or the world, but just come to see all these in a different light. This then shows us that conversion really carries a growth process with it -- a growth in love, a growth in trust, a growth in faith, hope, goodness, mercy; and no-one can ever be in a situation where he can say that he loves in such a way that his love, or his faith, or his hope can no longer become stronger. This is again the reason that one should say that the process of conversion really never ends. But God also gave His own name in respect to this process of conversion, and it is Emmanuel -- this of course meaning "God with us". This means that God is with us as we go, God as the bread that is our food during our lives. And Mary as mother, as pilgrim and as our teacher in these times, as the Pope calls her in various of his documents, is also with us, and this Jubilee Year is, as the Pope also wrote in his Encyclical MOTHER OF THE SAVIOR, was prepared by Mary. This Encyclical was published in 1987 and there the Pope called these times Marian times. Mary is living her second Advent in order to prepare the pilgrim Church for this Jubilee Year. And so in this light one can also say that Medjugorje itself is a realization of what the Pope has been teaching us during this time. There it always concerns Mary as our mother who is accompanying us, who is teaching us and who is leading us to Jesus.
YOU ARE CONCERNED TOO MUCH ABOUT MATERIAL THINGS AND LITTLE ABOUT SPIRITUAL ONES
Here again it simply refers to the same process of conversion and conversion also means to use time in such a way that everything that we need to do for our soul, for our minds and for our bodies gets its time. To concern ourselves too much with the material means is to become imbalanced in respect to time and therefore come to neglect the spiritual and therefore the spiritual has no chance of growing. So it is important for all of us to meditate on whether we are too concerned with the material things? Mary does not say that we may not be concerned with the material or that we do not need the material, and she cannot say this when we think of Jesus in the desert when he was fasting and when Satan told Him to turn the stone into bread, he did not answer "we do not need the bread" but He said "not only from bread does man live, but from the word of God". And this is what Mary is here also emphazing to us. She wants us to use time in such a way that not only our bodies and our material needs are met, but also that the needs of our souls and minds are met and nurtured every day. It is a great danger that man in these consumeristic times needs always more and more time for that which he has and does not yet have. In this process of being freed of all the material concerns it is fasting that helps us greatly with this. By way of fasting we absolutely become freed of unnecessary things because we come to see better what we need and what we have and thereby we more easily come to find our balance. When the material concerns overtake everything else, then we are left with no more time for the spiritual, and this may simply not happen. And Mary, all throughout the time of her apparitions, has been nudging and leading us to get the balance back into our lives, and for many conversion begins when they first of all take more time for the spiritual, and here for a woman whose husband starts taking more time for her and for the children will be showing to her that he is in the process of conversion. The parents will start believing in the conversion of the children when the children start taking more time for prayer as well as more time for their parents. And so we must simply ask ourselves whether we have lost this balance, and if we have, then we must attend to getting it back again.
OPEN YOUR HEARTS AND START AGAIN TO WORK MORE ON YOUR PERSONAL CONVERSION
Mary told us just last month that she is praying that we open our hearts to God but we cannot just say I will now go and open my heart, but here too it concerns a matter of growth like a flower. No-one can say when a flower opens itself, but it is clear to all of us that it only will when all the conditions are what is needed for it to open itself. It is this same way when it comes to our hearts and so when we think of all the conditions that we need and when we use our time well and, of course, pray, then our hearts will also open themselves. Mary wants that we again renew our work when it comes to our own conversion, and in another message she told us that we should work on our hearts as we work on our fields. Everyone who has sewn a good seed and who is hoping for a good harvest will know that it does not suffice to just to go out and to buy the best seed. One also has to attend to the soil and it is this same way when it comes to our hearts. I believe that all conversion is a "personal" conversion, but the use of this word here might have been said in order to give the visonaries themselves, all parents, teachers and Priests, all those who are normally in the position to be talking to all the others, a nudge to attend also to themselves more than they might have been so far, or to attend more to calling the others around them to conversion, in the name of God. It can so easily happen to us that we care more about the souls of the others than we do for the condition of our own souls. The best way to go in this process is to first of all attend to oneself and when one does, then one will be more patient with the others, understand them better and judge them less because one knows that it often takes a long time until we have overcome a bad habit or until we have begun to grow. And it is for this reason that only by way of a personal conversion can we then be most loving and most effective with the others around us, because they will be the best witnesses to our own conversion. So we can very easily come into the situation of becoming Pharisees in that we can find it so easy to preach to the others, yet at the same time we had not even touched with the smallest finger in ourselves what we have asked of the others, as Jesus said it to the Pharisees. Mary then says...
DECIDE EVERYDAY TO DEDICATE TIME TO GOD AND TO PRAYER UNTIL PRAYER BECOMES A JOYFUL MEETING WITH GOD FOR YOU
This decision is really that which we can do. We may not forget in respect to prayer that there are two sides, the outer and the inner. To the outer side of prayer belongs the decision to take time, to find the place, and to create the right conditions, and to remain loyal to these. When we have all this, then we can say that we have untaken everything, and so what then happens in our hearts is not our problem. If we in this way take time for God in prayer every day, then prayer will soon become a joyful meeting with God because He loves us and when we meet someone who loves us then it is only natural that we become joyful. I believe we may never tire in repeating this when we think of the many people in the world who never pray or who only pray very little, and who in only doing so with some sense of duty have no joy at it at all and then throw it away as soon as it is possible. This is understandable when the people do not take the time, and how can they take the time for it when they do not have the needed love for it? If we begin to pray in that way, then we will find ourselves in a circle. Here Mary is praying for us so that we may come to experience God's love for us, and this is the hope and the strength of Medjugorje, that very many people can speak of prayer and have experiences with prayer so that they may have joy and peace in doing so. This is because Mary is here and because she is praying for us and for this we may never tire of being thankful. When we have all this, we will then also have come to realize...
ONLY IN THIS WAY WILL YOUR LIFE HAVE MEANING
So the conditions that we may come to realize the meaning of our life is our relationship to God -- God who is love, life, truth, light and the way. As soon as we have lost the good relationship with God we are left with no way, no light, no truth, no life, and no love, and then our life can no longer have meaning. The call for our conversion is only made for our benefit, because it is we who lose the meaning of life when we do not convert. It is we who stay in the darkness when we do not convert and it is we who stay in hate and death when we do not convert to love and to life. This process of conversion is the only way that we can come to realize the meaning of life and for the meaning of life it is also very important to know that our life is a path. On this path everything can happen to us -- the good, the bad, the sorrowful, the joyful, something dreadful, but still none of this is our life. We might become really ill, but still this is not our life, that is the path. However, one must be very free to discover this and then also to live it. And when someone seeks the meaning of life in material things, he will never have enough of it to discover the meaning of life in it. For us it is very important to speak about this and to testify on behalf of this, because so many people in this time have lost all meaning of life, of friendship, and of love. We know how many are tortured with thoughts of committing suicide or who in fact do commit suicide today. This is also true among the young of today. There are so very many depressed people today and people who are in great fear and then easily fall into aggressive manners of behavior. These people should not be condemned because these are the people who need help because these are only the screams of their souls, and so it is so important that we also witness God's love for them. Then once we have made the decision to take the time and to create the right conditions for our meeting and growth with God...
AND WITH JOY YOU WILL CONTEMPLATE ETERNAL LIFE
We are on a path, we are only pilgrims here and our lives end here, but at the end of it we can expect eternity. This is the so-called eschathological dimension of Christianity and it is a great danger that we can lose this eschatholigical and thus expectant dimension. We lose this, for instance, in the material things and in the too great concerns for the material. If we take only a little time for the spiritual, when we do not work on our personal conversion, then this expectant dimension is lost and we no longer have what is giving us meaning in this life. We Christians need this expectant dimension, because it will help us to overcome the times in our lives that are hard, that are sinful and the temptations of this life. We will also not become arrogant when we are having an easy time of it because we will always remember that we are only underway toward eternity. The awareness of this expectant, eschatological dimension of our faith is helped greatly by own prayer and our fasting, because it is there that we become freer and lighter. When Mary says bread and water, this was also the case for the pilgrims in the first few centuries because they were only able to take bread and water with them. The other day I read a book by Vittorio Messori in which he leads a conversation with Cardinal Ratzinger. There Ratzinger says, in regard to virginity and fasting, that wherever the sense of virginity and fasting has been lost there is no longer a Church, because precisely in virginity and in fasting this eschatological dimension of our faith becomes very clear. Because when we have lost this expectant dimension there is no longer any reason to pray, to fast, to be good and to live with a sense for virginity. And when one asks the question from the other side, and asks where is there fasting, then can one say that there is no Church? Ratzinger says, and this is probably a very important point for us, that when we make the decision and then think about eternal life, and in so doing also give signs for it in being able to forgive, being able to abstain, to wish to be freed, to avoid conflicts, then why should we think of these things with joy unless we have already experienced just a little of God's love? And if we have just experienced a little of God's love here, then in eternity we know we shall be awaiting eternal and infinite love. When we have experienced just a little peace and joy, then this will last without interruption for eternity. The joy we have here will of course not remove the Cross or the fear of death from us, but the path all along will be very different when everything is seen and happens in the light of eternity. And in this way may it then also be with all of us, so that all us may remain on this path, and for this let us now pray...
God our Father, we thank You that you sent us Your only Son, that He suffered, died and resurrected for us, that You showed us with this that You are really the Father over all life and all death. We thank You that through the newly resurrected Lord new light came into our lives and we ask You for the grace of conversion. Give us the strength that we be able to free ourselves from all that is hindering us on our path, and give us the grace of a joyful meeting with You, so that during our path we are able to always look toward and forward to You, and that we can always with love and with joy contemplate the meaning of life. We ask You, O Father, for the visionaries, for the Priests, for this Parish, for all the pilgrims and for all who are converting, that they in speaking in Your name also personally convert themselves, that they may never tire of working on their own conversion. We ask You, O Father, touch all those who have for any reason stopped on their path, or who have gotten tired and we bring before You all those who have lost the meaning of life, that they may again find it. Bless all those who have brought their own intentions to You; may they all during this time of Resurrection remain with Your Resurrected Son, Jesus Christ. Father, protect us from all evil and from everything that can hinder us on our path to You. Mary, our mother, teacher and leader, may we under your protection continue on our path of life, so that all of us may someday be with you in eternity. May this happen through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Fra Slavko Barbaric
Last Modified 05/01/2000