Reflection on the Message of November 25, 2000
DEPARTURE OF GREAT MEN
"Dear children! Today when Heaven is near to you in a special way, I call you to prayer so that through prayer you place God in the first place. Little children, today I am near you and I bless each of you with my motherly blessing so that you have the strength and love for all the people you meet in your earthly life and that you can give God’s love. I rejoice with you and I desire to tell you that your brother Slavko has been born into Heaven and intercedes for you. Thank you for having responded to my call." November 25, 2000
How do they leave? And who are they in reality? These questions are not as simple as they may seem. Everything starts in fact with the question: Who can be considered a great man? It seems to me that in our contemporary world there is confusion about this question.
As a man, as a believer, as a religious and as a priest, Fr. Slavko Barbaric certainly belongs to the great men. But what is his dimension? I would say that he belonged to everybody, although some may not think so. As a man and as a believer, he has fully accomplished his mission. If it were not so, the Queen of Peace would not have said explicitly that he has been born into heaven. It is not necessary to enter now into theological discussions about the significance of Her words: whether She thought that he was a saint or not. In any case, all those who are in heaven are saints. Let time answer this question, let us give time some time to answer whether he is a saint in the sense that the hierarchy of the Church gives to this word. Let us remember that St. Francis and other great saints needed time to be declared as examples for us.
Those who do not consider Fr. Slavko as a great man are those who recognize only our humanity. We have noted this while observing the behavior of the media regarding Fr. Slavko’s funeral: the further a redaction is away from God, the less space they gave to this information in their news, if they spoke about it at all. They did not only mistreat a great man, but they made a big professional mistake, because they did not – in an independent and democratic spirit – transmit news that concern so many.
Yes, Fr. Slavko’s death has touched so many. His friends throughout the world are numberless, numberless are also all those who received his help. He didn’t do it with his human strength, if it had been endless, he would not have died so young. He worked and helped others thanks to the strength of God, whom he allowed to use his fragility to reach out to others. This is why he was able to do so much in such a short life.
We Christians are not called to separate ourselves from society, to enclose ourselves in a world apart in order to realize our ideas. Jesus Christ told us that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Why be afraid of our mission? All those who knew Fr. Slavko know well that he was never afraid of his mission. He was as engaged on a human as on a religious level. Out of this valley of tears, he wanted to make a pleasant place to cross on the way to our heavenly home. He never made use of his immense academic background to put himself above others, or to make it the sense of his life, but he used it to come closer to his neighbor. Many became aware of it, so it is not surprising that so many diverse people gathered around him. He taught them how to love man and how to love God. He never allowed faith to be separated from daily life. He combined his faith with human life, putting everything in its place and allowing everybody to take his own place, but nobody else’s.
We Christians have many chances. We have our Queen of Peace and we have models showing us the way by their example. There is one question: do we try to be an example ourselves? If we do not, Fr. Slavko’s example will remain only a singularity and nothing else.
Let us finally dare to fall on our knees and start to form and build ourselves as we think we should have. This is our foundation, and who has ever seen a house being built without good foundations? The Queen of Peace calls us unceasingly. Heaven is near us, She says, we are blessed, and we can continue to live without any fear concerning the present or the future. When we are confident, we are able to share this confidence with others. We will never feel alone or abandoned but, at every instant, we will cross this earthly road with dignity, holding our heads up high, enduring whatever hurts and troubles us.
Our good intentions will never remain unanswered. They will be encouraged by the heavenly intercession of all those who have reached God before us. The Queen of Peace tells us that Fr. Slavko’s intercession is with us. Let us not be afraid of the future of the events of Medjugorje. They are God’s work and, as such, they will continue to live on throughout history. If we try all together to answer the best we can, there will always be somebody to show us the way by his example, to help us go on. But if we refuse to walk God’s way, there will not be many examples. If they exist, they will be like a voice of a thirsty man in the desert, an admonition and condemnation of those who have brought this voice to silence. This is why we can say at the end: Fr. Slavko’s departure is in reality his entry into his eternal homeland.
Medjugorje, November 25, 2000
Last Modified 12/28/2000