Reflection on the Message of May 25, 1999
"Dear Children! Also today I call you to convert and to more firmly believe in God. Children, you seek peace and pray in different ways, but you have not yet given your hearts to God for Him to fill them with His love. So, I am with you to teach you and to bring you closer to the love of God. If you love God above all else, it will be easy for you to pray and to open your hearts to Him. Thank you for having responded to my call."
I greet all of you who are waiting for Our Lady's message or who are trying to follow Our Lady's messages, and now let us think back to April's message. First Mary called us again to prayer, and from all her messages here it becomes clear that prayer is extremely important to Mary, but then again it still is clear too that very many people are not yet praying. We must all try what we can so that our prayer becomes an encounter because the word 'prayer' really only means that we need something and that we therefore asking something of someone. In this encounter we can also pray, but we should also remember that encountering God also means praising Him, thanking God, trying to understand His will and then to follow it, to be with Him in silence, and then finally also to ask things of Him. The second point in April's message was that Mary wished us to become joyful carriers of peace in this world without peace. Let us be clear that to carry peace and love is the most beautiful assignment that a human-being could possibly be given, because every one of us wants nothing more than peace and love. But, at the same time, this is also the most difficult assignment that humans could be given, because were it so easy, then the world would be full of carriers of peace and of love. Why is it so difficult? Can we understand it when we look at the last point that Mary makes in that message? There Mary says that she is praying for us and that she is interceding for us so that our behavior may always be Christian. In order to understand Christian behavior a bit better, let us first think what normal behavior for us is. Normal behavior for us is to adjust our behavior according to the behavior of others, and this means that when someone injures us it is normal for us, with anger in our hearts, to decide to injure them and to pay them with what they did to us. When someone does something good for us, we return it with something good, and when someone does us harm, we then harm them. But Jesus said, about this normal type of behavior, that this is also the behavior of pagans and so it is nothing special. Christian behavior is when I adjust my thoughts, words and deeds according to Christ's behavior, and therefore not according to the behavior of others, but according to what Christ does towards me, and what He says and thinks of me. That is what is so difficult for us humans and there are no techniques or energies that can bring us to Christian behavior all at once. Rather it concerns doing our spiritual work such as praying, fasting, confessing and so forth very sincerely until these become what is normal and then develop into the daily nourishment for our organism. When we act in this fashion then certainly our behavior will step by little step become more Christian. Mary wishes of us that we become her witnesses through prayer and fasting, and it was Medjugorje that called fasting back to life. Fasting is a Heavenly calling and both a Biblical and Church custom. We know that fasting had been generally forgotten and that was incorrect; and so it is good that we renew our decision and again ask for the grace to be able to fast.
The visionaries Vicka, Ivan and Marija, as far as we believe, are still having their daily apparitions. Marija was here for 10 days in May and she promised us to come again for the Anniversary. Ivan and Vicka are at home and are giving their testimonies to pilgrims every day, while Mirjana, Ivanka and Jacov are also at home and are leading a normal family life. Mirjana and Jacov also speak occasionally with the pilgrims while Ivanka has chosen to live quietly. The stream of pilgrims is again growing from day to day, and so the initial fearful reaction due to Kosovo and Yugoslavia seems to be wearing off. There never was a real reason for this fear, but when people are fearful one can do nothing, but this fear has again subsided and people are returning in ever-growing numbers.
Personally I would again like to say here that we are holding an International Priests' Conference from June 30 until July 6, and I invite all Priests to this as well as asking the pilgrim groups to let their Priests know that this meeting is being held. The theme of this meeting will be GOD THE FATHER, THE CREATOR OF LIFE AND PRIESTS IN SERVICE OF LIFE, IN SERVICE OF UNBORN LIFE, AND IN SERVICE OF WOUNDED LIFE and about this Sr. Elvira will be speaking. The Conference will also concern the Priests' role in healing. Fr. Jozo and others will also be speaking to us. We whole-heartedly invite everyone and also ask that everyone pray for the Priests.
As we have already become accustomed, Mary, as she has been doing since January 1987, has this time too given us a message on the 25th of the month through Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti. When we read this message, then we can see that Mary has remained loyal to her plan of asking us to convert, to have faith, to open our hearts, and to accept her as our teacher, so that she may bring us to God's love. She also tells us that it will become easier for us to pray when we carry love for God in our hearts, but, as we have been doing in our reflections now for some time, we will look at her message point by point.
ALSO TODAY I CALL YOU TO CONVERT
Conversion is the call that is repeated constantly in the Bible and Mary is only repeating this Biblical call. She has called us to conversion so many times and so we have spoken about it often here in these reflections. We should be aware of the fact that we are, with this message, also meant to prepare ourselves for the upcoming 18th Anniversary of the Apparitions here in Medjugorje and, with this in mind, it is also good to again emphasize the purpose of conversion. Conversion has many facets. For one it is God's call that we turn toward Him so that we may guide all our lives with all our heart according to Him and that we thereby then live in His light. As soon as we are called to turn our lives toward God, then our turning away from the world also becomes a part of it. This also means turning away from ourselves in our egotism and our selfishness. This also means turning away from our wounds and from our being sinners. There is nothing in us to which we ought to get stuck. If there is good in us, and we stay with it and concentrate a bit on it, we can become proud, and again are far from God. We must also turn away from the others around us so that it cannot happen that we measure our behavior according to what they do, and here especially we must turn away from all sin. It is here that we find the most difficult facet of conversion because we must distance ourselves from what the rest of the world does, but still evil and sin does not let go of us so quickly because they find in us such easy cooperators due to our pride, our selfishness, and our other bad habits. So we are always in need of the spirit of strength to remain strong in this tension between what is good and what is bad. So conversion means coming closer and at the same time turning away, and in this turning toward God it really concerns growth. Growing is the main goal of conversion, but it can also easily happen that we come understand conversion as only being the aspect of turning away and that we say that because we might not be doing anything bad, that we have therefore converted but without trying to do what is good. When we hear a Christian speaking and he says: "I am a good Christian because I do not kill, I do not steal, I do nothing that is evil." Certainly it is good not to kill, not to steal and not to do anything evil, but for a true Christian it is not enough not to be doing anything bad. But rather it is our assignment to always do more and more good and to do so with a joyful heart. It is here that we see that conversion concerns growing in what is good. Once we accept this aspect of conversion with all our hearts and work on it constantly, then we are in fact growing in relationship toward God and toward the others around us. Only then have we understood well what it means to have been attending Mary's school for so long and what it is that she really wants of us. Only in this way can we prepare ourselves well for the 18th Anniversary of Mary's Apparitions. Then Mary wants us...
TO MORE FIRMLY BELIEVE IN GOD
Let us first look at the Latin word CREDO and this comes from two words COR DARE or HEART...TO GIVE or to give one's heart. This, moreover, is the fundamental meaning of faith and of believing. So one can immediately differentiate, but while our knowledge is naturally quite important for our faith, faith primarily still concerns the opening of one's heart. Faith means loving, giving and trusting, because he who believes also stands firm, and as it is in Aramaic, AMAN, which means to stand firm in God, to have peace and not to have any fear. What Mary is telling us here also reminds us of the First of the Ten Commandments: "I am your God, and no-one else." In today's world it is easy to see that many people who are without faith in God are still believing, believing in something, but here it concerns superstition or a fake faith that has spread so far. How many people are seeking the answers for their lives and especially for their futures in the horoscopes, how many visit mediums and how many make use of pendulums or read tarot cards or their own palms, etc...? All these things remove people from their center and they no longer stand firm, and so there are so many people who are depressed, who have lost the purpose of their lives, who are in anger and who no longer can find their way through their lives. That is why so many people refuse to reconcile, why there is so much violence, why the unborn life is killed so quickly, and why wars start up so easily. All these are really results of people who no longer have their centers. God created man for Himself and man cannot find peace without God -- this is what St. Augustine tells us. It was out of his own experience that his heart could not find peace until he found God. When we look at Mary's life, then we know that she placed God in the first place in her life, and she also told us to do the same throughout many of her messages. And placing God in the first place in our lives really means to be in God, in His light, in His life, in His love and in His mercy. And it is here that one can discover the connection between conversion and faith, because conversion means the path that always goes deeper into faith, into God, and it is very important that we at least decide, due to this message, to pray for the grace of faith. Then we would also demonstrate that we have become good pupils in Mary's school, because to be in Mary's school really means that we decide for God no matter what in situation we might find ourselves. We start on a new path or continue on this good path only when we continuously decide for God. One should not forget here that the first prayer that Mary prayed with the visionaries was the beginning of the Creed -- "I believe in God." She also said that she came to us to tell us that God exists. In this atheistic, Godless world in which the people have lost God, they have also lost all sense for morals and ethics, and the new path that can bring people and the whole world peace is simply the decision for God. Then the third point that she is making in this month's message is...
YOU SEEK PEACE AND PRAY IN DIFFERENT WAYS, BUT YOU HAVE NOT YET GIVEN YOUR HEARTS TO GOD FOR HIM TO FILL THEM WITH HIS LOVE
This call is, of course, closely related to the call to believe more firmly in God, because when we believe more firmly, then our heart is already in God. That is why it is crucial for us that we ask ourselves what it may be that hinders us from giving our hearts to Him, or why we have not yet given our hearts to Him. Here we simply must think of sin, because it is sin that separates us from someone. And the situation of sin consists first of all of our having closed our heart to God and having, due to sin, turned instead toward the world. Here it is also pride that becomes a great hindrance. Pride is, in respect to faith, the most resisting and stubborn stance. God says: "I am your God, and no-one else", but it is the pride in people that makes them say: "Who are You?!", and thereby declare themselves to be God. God, then again, wishes to find our hearts open, so that He can fill us with His love. Therefore it is really not understandable and one cannot explain how it can be that a person can fear Him, when in fact God wishes to fill our hearts with that for which our hearts yearn the most, and that is love. And when our heart is filled with love, then our life can, of course, also be formed in a way that we yearn for it to really be, and then it will only follow that the lives of the others will also be formed in the way that they yearn for the most because we will want for them what we ourselves already have. None of us wish to live with people who have, in their pride, made gods of themselves or who adore another idol of the world, for then people are in danger. All the fear that is so evident everywhere today also comes for the same reason, and this is because the heart is no longer filled with love. In the Bible we are told that there where there is love there really is no fear. So, once again, we are left with the decision that we may pray for the grace of love so that we can then in love renew our relationship with God and thereby live in peace. Then Mary says...
SO, I AM WITH YOU TO TEACH YOU AND TO BRING YOU CLOSER TO THE LOVE OF GOD
Here we see that she mentions two reasons -- her teaching us and her bringing us closer to God -- for her being with us, and so, it is now soon to be some 18 years since she started appearing here among us and this means that she is truly with us on a daily basis. Here we should recognize that Mary does not merely speak of herself as our mother, but that she simply is a teacher. In his Encyclical of 1987, THE MOTHER OF THE SAVIOR, the Pope emphasized that Mary was not only Jesus' mother but also his teacher, and therefore she is also our mother as well as our teacher. The Pope also said that Mary can help us the best to get to know Jesus because it was she, and not someone else, who knew him the best, and this precisely because she had been His mother as well as His teacher. She can help us better to encounter Jesus than all the other Saints. So, here it is perhaps good for us that we become conscious of the fact that every one of us as a child always gladly accepted our mother and this because mothers really serve children more than anything else. For instance, when the mother cooks, cleans, washes or irons and does all those other things that are so necessary for the well-being of the children, then the mother is always accepted and a dear mother, but it is more difficult to accept her as a teacher, and it is here that the conflict starts with the mother. But as soon as the mother starts requiring something from us, for instance when she tried to teach us how to say 'thank you' or to do something, we, even as very small children, had already learned to say 'no' and thereby offering resistance. But it is, of course, the mother as teacher who knows everything because she knows the child so well, she knows everything that the child can do, as well as all its weaknesses. Therefore her role as teacher is always appropriate, yet especially in the years of early youth there are so many conflicts between parents and children because the children do not want to accept the parents as their teachers. This is also the same way that things go between Mary and ourselves. We enjoy it so much when she says "I love you immeasurably", "you belong to me", "I am your mother", "I pray for your conversion", and we have no problem accepting these words, but when she comes to us as teacher and says "pray daily", "pray with ceasing", "attend Holy Mass", "adore my Son", or when she says "fast", then suddenly we have so many excuses and so much resistance and do not listen to her teaching us. So, it seems so easy for us to accept Mary as our mother, so that she may serve us, but we find it much harder to accept her as our teacher. Often one can see it among the pilgrims when, for instance, they come and seek some sort of help and this means that they are seeking the mother who helps and serves, and this is, of course, fine, and when they receive what they requested they also accept what she tells them, but all of us are in danger of easily forgetting that which she tells us as teacher rather than that which she tells us as mother. Here I wish to say that now that we are preparing ourselves for the 18th Anniversary that we should very consciously, despite all resistance that we might try to use or all our bad habits, to accept Mary as our teacher and, no matter how we feel ourselves, simply to do what she is asking of us. So we should pray in the morning, during the day and in the evening, fast twice a week, go to monthly confession, attend Holy Mass, read Holy Scripture, and to also love and be merciful toward others, and to love God -- simply everything that she has taught us as our teacher. When we do all these things, then all the other things that she wishes will also come about, and we will then be brought to the love of God. Here we can think of what Mary does with Mirjana on the 2nd of every month, and that is to pray for non-believers and this means for those who have yet to experience God's love. This prayer began on August 2, 1987, and it re-occurs every month. This prayer is one of the most important wishes that she has because only the experience of God's love can move us to do what she is telling us to do. Here let us again think about our human experience. There where we love the teacher we also come to love the subject, yet where we do not love the teacher we will also never come to love the subject that he or she is trying to teach us. So when we love the mother then we more easily accept what she is trying to say to us, but all of us have already experienced it when people are more easily loved when they offer us an easier way rather than what our mother is telling us. Then at the end Mary, in order to solve the problem of praying and all those other things, tells us that we must love so that we can do what she is telling us.
IF YOU LOVE GOD ABOVE ALL ELSE, IT WILL BE EASY FOR YOU TO PRAY AND TO OPEN YOUR HEARTS TO HIM
Here it becomes clear that we must pray for the grace to love every day. And I really hope that these 18 years will continue to lead us deeper yet into God's love for us. Here I will now end these reflections, yet I also ask of you to really pray every day for the whole world, for all the others and for ourselves to experience God's love, and then our hearts will be open to encounter God, then prayer will become easy, and then also peace will be brought to us. Let us pray...
God, our Father, we thank You for Your love which You revealed through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Today, along with Mary, Your humble servant, who loved You with all her heart, we ask You to send the Spirit of love into our hearts, into our families, into our communities, into the Catholic Church and into all other Christian Churches. Send Your Spirit into the hearts of all those who are responsible in the religions and also throughout the whole world, send it into politics, into the economy, into research, into technology, and send Your Spirit into all human hearts until all hate and all other negative feelings have been removed. Father, heal all hearts with Your fatherly love, so that all hearts, due to Your love, will open themselves to You, so that You then can come into the first place in all lives, and that we may then start a new life in Your love. We thank You for the 18 years of Mary's presence here with us, the Queen of Peace, and we ask You to fill the visionaries' and their families' hearts with Your love, as well as all pilgrims and all prayer groups, so that they all will stay loyal to Mary, but also to fill those whose decisions have cooled or who have already left behind everything that they had learned from Mary. Through Your Spirit of love, move us all so that we may conquer all evil and that we may be Your good witnesses here on earth, and may Your Blessing of Peace come upon all of us to protect and lead us, through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Fra Slavko Barbaric
Last Modified 06/01/99