Fr. Slavko's Commentary
Reflection on the Message of December 25, l996
"Dear Children! Today I am with you in a special way, holding little Jesus in my lap and I invite you, little children, to open yourselves to His call. He calls you to joy. Little children, joyfully live the messages of the Gospel, which I am repeating in the time since I am with you. Little children, I am your mother and I wish to reveal to you the God of love and the God of peace. I do not wish for your life to be in sadness but that it be realized in joy for eternity, according to the Gospel. Only in this way will your life have meaning. Thank you for having responded to my call."
I greet you all, dear readers, and I hope that we all celebrated a joyful Christmas. I also hope that, as Mary invited us in last month's message, we all had prepared ourselves well for Jesus' coming with prayer, fasts and small offerings. It was her wish that Advent become a time of grace for us, and that we always be ready to do good. This was the condition for being able to feel Jesus' birth in our hearts. She also wished us to become examples and signs of God's love in this world and that in this way joy will be in all hearts. I hope that we all experienced this joy, that we all did good and that we decided always to do good. Only this way can one really show that one is with God and that one, as an example of God, is here for the others. This is certainly Mary's wish.
The situation here in Medjugorje is as usual. All this month we had a steady stream of groups of pilgrims who came to pray with us. Christmas itself we celebrated in a grand way. On Christmas Eve at 9 o'clock Sr. Elviras' boys put on a living Nativity scene and many people were present. Then at 10:00 p.m. we returned to church where we had constant Adoration in preparation for our midnight Mass. There was a wonderful atmosphere of prayer. At 12 o'clock we celebrated Holy Mass with all the pilgrims and with many people from the Parish. Also for New Year's we will have a similar preparation, then we will begin Mass at 11:30 p.m. and at exactly midnight we will speak the words of the Consecration: "This is my body, this is my blood." In this way let us ask God to transform our hearts, our families and the world, and that through our conversion our hearts, our families and the entire world will have peace. I also wish that we all prepare ourselves well for the New Year, that we can really start the New Year with and in the name of God, and thereby become open for the blessing that God wishes to give us. We are also beginning the 'Year of the Son', because, as you certainly already know, the Pope has dedicated these three upcoming years -- 1997, 1998 and 1999 -- to the Son, the Holy Spirit and the Father. So let us really begin this New Year which is about to begin in the name of Jesus and let us truly live our lives through Him and with Him, and that we find our peace through Him and with Him.
The apparitions, we believe, continue. At the moment Vicka, Jacov, Mirjana, Ivanka and Marija are here. Ivan and his family have been in the US since August. We hope that they will come in March. Marija was here for the apparition and had it in the Chapel of Adoration. She then told us the message and also that Mary was again holding Baby Jesus, but this time, rather than looking toward all the people in front of Him, He was looking at His Mother.
This new message is again a very deep, good and beautiful one. It strongly confirms her presence here and we ought not forget that it is precisely her presence among us that remains the central of all messages of Medjugorje.
TODAY I AM WITH YOU IN A SPECIAL WAY
All of Medjugorje can only be understood when one accepts Mary's presence here, and without accepting her special presence here, one cannot explain any of Medjugorje. Throughout the entire Medjugorje story of 15 years and 6 months there have been people who tried to explain it differently. The communists said that it was manipulation on the part of the Franciscans -- a manipulation that was intended to lead to a counter-revolution. Later there were also other explanations, such as illness on the part of the visionaries, such as an intense wish for money and all the way to claiming that it all came from Satan. But all those who have sincerely experienced it in their hearts realize fullwell that it is God's gift to all of us through His humble servant, Mary. Just as she began the apparitions, so did she also appear this Christmas in that she was...
HOLDING LITTLE JESUS IN MY LAP
This is the way the visionaries saw her in the beginning. Wherever Mary and Jesus are, there is Bethlehem, there is the beginning of the new world. She is calling us in the name of Jesus...
TO OPEN YOURSELVES TO HIS CALL
The word "open" is said many times throughout the messages and also again in this one. We must always remember that there is no magical key that can open our hearts. Opening oneself really means to grow, yet in truth we can only supply the conditions for growth while it is only God who can supply us with growth. So prayer, fasting, offering sacrifices, going to Confession, attending Holy Mass; and doing all this regularly will remove even the deepest hardness from our hearts. Mary once said that our hearts are like flowers -- flowers for which the right conditions must be created. Whoever forgets his flower, and thereby fails to supply it with the right conditions, will find his flower to be wilted. So Mary, in a similar way, wants us to prepare the conditions necessary so that we open our hearts and that we accept what she tells us. Jesus calls us to joy and Mary again tells us that...
HE CALLS YOU TO JOY
Naturally, we should already know that this joy is to be found in...
THE MESSAGES OF THE GOSPEL
Jesus so very often spoke of joy and also about joy where, by man's nature, it is not always to be expected. When Jesus said that "when people chase you, when they say terrible things because you belong to Me, when you must suffer due to Me, be joyful because then your names are written in Heaven". So this is a joy that does not exclude tears, but rather here it concerns the deep joy that we can only receive from God. Our being and our hearts were afterall created for joy, and joy in itself is really a strength -- a strength through which we can do good, a strength through which we, even when suffering, can find the meaning of life, a strength through which we can forgive when we are wounded, and a strength through which we can share something when we have it. It is to this joy to which Jesus calls us, but He is not calling us to something that is impossible for us, but rather He wishes to give us joy so that we then can live from it. Mary wishes us to live the message of the Gospel with joy, those...
WHICH I AM REPEATING IN THE TIME SINCE I AM WITH YOU
Let us again think of the main messages -- peace, conversion, prayer, fasting and faith. Specifically this means praying the Rosary, two days of fasting, monthly Confession, reading the Bible, and attending Holy Mass as often as possible. We will do all of this joyfully when we have love. Love gives us the strength to do something and certainly when we do something out of love, then joy will enter our hearts, and therefore we should decide to pray every day and to live everything with joy. Whoever prays, fasts and goes to Mass in sorrow is really a sad Christian, and someone once said that a sad saint is really a sad saint. When we think about what Jesus said about fasting, He said that we should have show joy on our faces and not sadness; and the angels at His birth said "be joyful because He is bringing you the good news. God is born for you." But we all know how many people do not like to pray, do not like to fast, and how many people no longer come to Mass. Many find prayer and fasting to be boring, yet really it only comes down to us having love, because when we love someone we will want to be with them and even when the person is ill or is suffering we will still be happy to be with them. On this point we all certainly need a deep conversion and here we mean a conversion so that we are happy to be with Jesus and Mary, and to happy when they are with us. This we can understand better when we think of the relationship between parents and children. The child is joyful when the parents are present and parents are joyful when the children are present. Absence is always cause for sorrow and a loving presence is always the best and the only way to joy. When we accept Mary and live with joy what she advises us from the Gospel, then what she tells further on in the message will become reality.
I AM YOUR MOTHER AND I WISH TO REVEAL TO YOU THE GOD OF LOVE AND THE GOD OF PEACE
And when God gives us the grace to recognize Him as the God of love and of peace, then all problems in life will be resolved. When we have once realized that God REALLY loves us unconditionally, then our hearts will really react with joy and respond with joy to this love. As long as this does not happen then we will always be burdened, and remain burdened about praying, fasting and attending Holy Mass. Since August 2, 1987, Mary, has been praying on the 2nd of every month for non-believers, for those who have yet to discover the love of God. It is so very important for our entire lives to discover the loving God. For when we do discover the love of God, we change our lives and become, out of this love, able to love ourselves and all others. Then hate and all other negative feelings will have no room left to influence our hearts. When we meet the God of love, then joy will be in our hearts and thereby peace will come about. A heart that has love and joy in it is one that lives in peace. Without being loved we cannot be joyful, and without being loved we can also not have peace. And precisely this is always a great problem. If we do not have the peace that comes for God, then we must again seek it here on earth and when that happens it again brings people onto wrong paths as well as to wrong methods that are unable to give peace. Then Our Lady continues by touching on a really deep problem.
I DO NOT WISH FOR YOUR LIFE TO BE IN SADNESS BUT THAT IT BE REALIZED IN JOY FOR ETERNITY, ACCORDING TO THE GOSPEL
We all have had experience with sorrow. Here we can perhaps speak of two types of sorrow. First when someone has lost someone he has loved or when something else hard has happened, they know tears and sorrow. This can with time be overcome, and here I am thinking of a sorrow that I would call an existential sorrow. This type of sorrow has much to do with the will of God, and with our relationship toward the will of God. Jesus says, "my joy is to do the will of God". I believe we can all say that we are joyful when we do the will of God, BUT when we neither seek nor do not live the will of God, then we live in sorrow. And sorrow started with the first sin when man rejected the will of God and in doing so he then became sorrowful and finally fearful, this fear then causing his need to hide himself from God because God's presence was no longer bearable. Then something else came about and that was that man refused to accept his responsibility for his deed. Adam first said, "No it was not I, but the woman whom You gave to me", to which the woman then said, "No it was not I, it was the snake, the devil." So every time that we sin against God we remain sorrowful, and in this manner we may speak today of a "sorrowful world". We know that sorrow bears fear and also aggression and violence. It then also leads people to wanting to destroy their own lives as well as that of the others. So sorrow is really the fruit of pride, and it is only with pride that we reject the will of God. The path to joy is therefore freedom of pride, and thus a humility with which we are open to the will of God. It is not difficult to recognize the will of God, for it is His will that we have peace; and peace can only grow where there is love, for love brings joy and peace. It is so very common that people today live in depression and in fear, and it is this that causes so many people to become violent, suicidal, addicted to destructive drugs and alcohol, and to live so loosely. This can most easily be seen among the young who contantly get lead back and forth, seeking noise and highs in the hope of attaining a joy. It is so clear that they are seeking a deep joy, yet a real joy ONLY God can give us. Joy comes when life is identified -- identified according to the Gospel. Often when we hear the words "identity crisis". This means that the person, the family or the young does not know who they are, what they should do, or which path they should take. The Gospel gives a person clear criteria for who he is, what he should become and how it is to be fulfilled so that he can live in joy. According to the Gospel a person who is clearly fulfilled is one who loves God, one who knows that he is loved, one who out of this love for God and for himself then becomes capable of loving others. And to love others means to be ready in humility to serve others with the gifts that God gave him. He who lives in this manner will live in joy. I believe that when we think of Mother Teresa or Sr. Elvira and all the problems that they faced and had to face, yet still a deep joy is to be seen glowing from their faces. A person who is not fulfilled in this manner, who does not know that he is loved, who is unable to love, cannot have joy and therefore must remain sorrowful. But so that we do not remain locked into this world, Mary tells us FOR ETERNITY. Our path through this earthly valley leads us to eternal life, to the eternity of God who loves us, and to life with God in eternal love. We can hardly imagine such a thing, yet the yearning of our hearts speaks to us of this possibility and constantly carries this wish to live into eternity in love and in joy. In other words, as St. Paul tells us, IT IS WORTHWHILE to offer up everything, to free oneself of everything and to be able to love, so that one day one may arrive in eternity in which God has prepared for us such a life that St. Paul could say that "the human heart has not hoped for, the eye has not seen, the ear has not heard". And with this deep yearning for the eternal joy and love, we will also get the strength to become fulfilled according to the Gospel; and there where man feels fulfilled, there too he can have joy. Here I would like to mention a thought of the philosopher and theologian, Fr. Kirin Vasilj, a Franciscan who lives in the USA. He says it is easier to be a good Christian than a half-way Christian. A good Christian is one who lives the Gospel and thereby in peace and in joy. While the half-way Christian, rather than living in joy, lives in sorrow. Mary then tells us that...
ONLY IN THIS WAY WILL YOUR LIFE HAVE MEANING
It is clear to us all that when we fulfill ourselves and find our identities, we will discover the meaning of life. One does not need to be healthy or rich in order to discover the meaning of life, and the meaning of life is not impossible for the poor or the sick to be able to reach. It only depends on whether the person feels fulfilled; and how many rich and healthy young people feel unhappy and useless, while so many poor, sick and even bed-ridden still are fulfilled because they have discovered the meaning of life.
THANK YOU FOR HAVING RESPONDED TO MY CALL
So, ahead of us we have a new time, a time that is dedicated to the Son, Jesus, in a special way. Jesus is the man in totality, for in Him God of love and peace has revealed Himself. Jesus stands in front of us and from Him we can learn about our relationship with ourselves, our relationship with the sick and the suffering, our relationship with nature, and our relationship with God the Father. When we look at Him and when we are with Him in prayer, we will, with His example and His grace, then also grow. And for this we now also wish to pray:
God, our Father, we thank You that send Mary to us with the Child Jesus, and that You are God of life and of peace. We thank, O Father, that You are revealing Yourself to us through Your Son, Jesus. That You give us love, joy and peace. We ask You to free us of our pride, so that we then also become free of our sorrow. Give us the grace that our hearts find joy in You, that it becomes our joy to be with You, O Father, as You are joyful when we are with You. We thank You for all the words You spoke to us through Your Son, Jesus -- that You are joyful as the father of the lost son, that you are joyful as the good shepherd, that You are as joyful as woman who has found her lost pearl. Father, let us feel the joy of Your heart, so that our heart too may feel joy and that we thereby become signs for Your love and joy. Please, O Father, bless all those who are far from You because they, out of fear of You, reject Your will. Father, and through the intercession of Mary, Your humble servant, and in the name of Your Son, Jesus, free us of everything that hinders us from discovering You, our God of love and of peace. Give us the grace that we, in this coming year, recognize Your most beloved Son, that we listen to Him and through Him come to You, in Your Spirit who reigns with You for ever and ever. Amen.
Medjugorje; Dec 29, 1996
Last Modified 12/30/96