Fr. Slavko's Reflections on the message of
NOVEMBER 25, 1995: "Dear children, today I invite you that each of you begin anew to love first God who saved and redeemed each of you, and then brothers and sisters in your vicinity. Without love, little children, you cannot grow in holiness and you cannot do good deeds. Therefore, little children, pray without ceasing that God reveals His love to you. I have invited all of you to unite yourselves with me, and to love. Today also, I am with you and I invite you to discover love in your hearts and in your families. For God to live in your hearts, you must love. Thank you for having responded to my call."
With this message of November we are preparing ourselves for the Christmas season and for Christmas itself. The specific preparation also happens through the series of retreats in the Parish's house - Domus Pacis (The House of Peace). Every week now until Christmas we will receive new groups who wish to learn to pray and to fast and at the same time to pray and to fast that Mary's plans can become reality.
Again today, Mary gave us her message and it is the message of love. To understand this message better, we should really look back upon the messages of September and October. In September Mary called upon us to fall in love with Jesus --- Jesus whom we meet in the Holy Sacrament of the Altar. She called us to discover and to recognize Him through love. I hope that we have not forgotten that we can pray for the grace every day to be in love with Jesus. The October message reminded us that God created everything around us, that we should discover this again out in nature, that we should start to be grateful and that through this gratitude we will be able to discover the Almighty and all that is good around us. At the same time we have been invited to pray to discover the great love for us and for all creatures. So there it concerned the First Commandment: 'I am your God, other than me there is no other God.' We also know, or believe in, the One True and Holy God where there is no room for superstition. Wherever one has forgotten Him, destruction will soon begin, and of this destruction we continuously see so very much! Mary wishes for us that we again pick up a loving contact with God, because then we will again come to protect life --- our life and that of all others.
"Today I invite you that each of you begin again to love, in the first place God"
Upon this idea --- to discover God --- She again picks up in this month's message. So it here concerns the two Commandments in which He, it is often said, pulled together all the other Commandments: 'Love your God above all else, and your brother as yourself'. This --- that we discover and love God above all else --- is what Mary wishes for us at the end of this liturgical year and at the beginning of the next one. This message within itself wishes to remind us that love and ONLY love is the most important Commandment. Only with love, can we also prepare ourselves for the Christmas season! We should start anew to love God the Creator, the Almighty and the Holy God. When we love God, then we are with the King of Life --- The Kind of Peace, Truth and Light. This means that He saved us and that He redeemed us:
"Who saved and redeemed you, and then brothers and sisters in your proximity"
He opened for us the way of peace through His love for us. We also do not wish to forget that He loves every one of us as well as all creatures that He created. For God there simply is NO unwanted baby, no unwanted creation, no unwanted creature! He created everything out of love and He saved and redeemed everything out of this love. Through His love we will become able to love all the brothers and sisters with whom we work and alongside of whom we live. Through God's love we will learn that our love too can and ought to become unconditional.
"Without love... you cannot grow in holiness and cannot do good deeds"
Love is the condition for holiness. Growing in holiness is truly also growing in love, but this growth cannot occur without love. Jesus did not redeem us through His suffering and death, but rather with His love that He suffered for us. The Saints did not become holy because they only prayed, fasted and made offerings, but rather because they, in doing so, continued to grow in love. It is for this reason that they also became holy. During this time of Advent it is customary that we Christians do good deeds, that we again begin to think of all people and there are many about whom we only think at Christmas. We certainly do become still more open to do good, but as that these deeds that we may do truly become good ones that are moreover recognized as such, there must be love in our hearts that, in turn, is the motivation for these deeds. When it is something else that motivates us to do good, it no longer becomes a good deed. So when we act out of egoism, out of pride or out of selfishness, then it will no longer be recognized by God. All that we do, including the smallest of things, for the others should be inspired by love. We all know after all that ONLY love can fulfill our lives. ONLY through love for ourselves, for the others, for all creatures and for God can we become happy. Certainly we carry in our hearts the question: Fine, but how do we grow in love? This message again has the answer to this:
"Therefore... pray without ceasing"
These are the words that we will once again hear during this Advent. Again we will be called upon singly as well a s together as a church to become a praying community --- a community that prays without ceasing and that in prayer awaits the Lord. In prayer we will discover...
"That God reveals his love to you"
... and for this to occur we simply MUST pray. Once we have discovered God's love or once God has revealed His love to us, then everything will change for us. Then we will be healed because ONLY the love of God can heal our hearts and our souls. And then we will also become able to love all others unconditionally. We are not alone on the path of love because...
"I have invited all of you to unite yourselves with me and to love"
We are the ones who are in Mary's school. The Pope in his Encyclical of 1987, Mother of the Redeemer, said that Mary was not merely Jesus' mother but also Jesus' teacher and as She taught Him then, She is also teaching us today. For this reason is so very important for us to be in contact with her and to love Her. She again called upon us saying:
"Today I am with you and invite you to discover love in your hearts and in the families"
The feast of Christmas, as all of us have certainly discovered, opens our hearts, and suddenly many people will be ready to think about, to reconcile, to visit and to do something good for others. This is love! The love that is in our hearts because we believe that God made Himself a child through the birth of Baby Jesus, and who thereby became man with us and for us. If we discover this love in our hearts, then we also discover it in the hearts of those who live around us and this will begin among the members of our own families as well as among the other families. When this happens, then we can say that the Feast of Christmas has begun.
"For God to live in your hearts, you must love"
And then also, so that the love of God can live among us, in our hearts and our families and then through us throughout the entire world, we must decide for love as Mary tells us. Then, nothing else really remains for us to do but to pray for this love every day. In November's message Mary told us that God's love for us and for all creatures is great and that it surrounds us. Here, after all, it again concerns this same thing --- to pray and then God will reveal His love to us all. I truly wish for all of us that during these weeks each one of us can all grow in love, and for this we also wish to pray.
O God, Creator of life. You are the Almighty, the Holy and the loving God. We know this, but we ask you along with Mary that we may all experience Your love in our lives. Reveal Yourself to our hearts as the loving God, and heal our hearts and those of all people of hate, of any bitterness or trust, of all fears that we, through Your revealed love, can change our lives so that through us yet other people will become able to open themselves to You. Give us the grace that we will be able to prepare ourselves well for Christmas, for the coming of Your Son, Jesus Christ. We beg You, bless us, bless our families, bless all pregnant women that they all will decide for life, bless all those who find themselves in hate and therefore destroy themselves and others around them. Heal them so that they may become ready to accept their own and the lives of others with love and reverence. This we pray in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ with Mary whom You have sent to us. We thank you for her and for Your love that she is teaching us. Amen.
Fra. Slavko, Medjugorje
November 26, 1995
Last Modified 04/25/96