Fr. Slavko's Commentary
Reflection on the Message of October 25, 1997
I greet you with all my heart, and, as usual, let us again remember the message of September. Mary called us, in a way, to ask ourselves where God stood in our lives, which place does He occupy, because in the message's first sentence She said that we should pray in order to comprehend that without love we cannot comprehend that God should be in the first place in our lives. So, the question always remains, is God in the first place in my life? One can also understand it this way. Mary arrives at the First Commandment -- I am your God, you should not have another god other than me. In reality one can say that four things wish to occupy the first place in our hearts.
1) Ourselves -- in that we ourselves occupy this place. This means that we are in danger of praying to and adoring ourselves. When a person places himself in that first place, then he is always tempted to make the others less or smaller so that he may then, remain big. Such a person is an egotist who always protects his own position, and who speaks badly about the others, denigrates them, and wants to enslave them. It is not good when a person prays to himself, and we must always remember the Commandment that we should love the other as ourselves. A person may love himself, but he may never pray to himself.
2) Another person -- when he or she is given the first place in our lives. When this happens then we are enslaved, then we do what he or she wants and not what we should do. This happens today far too often, and the result is that one prays to another. This is why we so often hear the term "identity crisis". This means that the person no longer knows who he is. But how can he know who he is if he prays to another person rather than to God? This is why throughout all of time, including these times, dictatorships became possible. This is when one places oneself under another, and is then ready to do anything at all for the other one. This is the case in communism, as well as all other dictatorships. And this is what happens in every war, when a person does something evil and then says that he was told to do it. It is not worthy of man that he places himself under another person. One must love the other one, but one may not adore him.
3) Material things -- and when this happens, then only one rule remains -- to accumulate more and more. With this rule everything is permitted -- violence, fraud, theft, dishonesty -- only so that one can accumulate more. Material things make a terrible lord! They make a person blind to what he has, while he only opens his eyes to what he does not yet have. Then the person has no chance at all to have peace, destroys himself, the others, his own family, and becomes ready to destroy the whole world only to have more. It is not worthy of man that he places material things in the first place in his life.
4) God Himself. He offers Himself and wishes to serve us, as bread, as the way, as truth, as life, as light, as love, and as mercy. He wishes to serve us so that we can then serve the others and life itself. He offers every person peace and wishes to give it completely, but the conditions for this to happen are also very clear -- convert, pray and fast, have faith, trust, be merciful and good, love the others, see God in the others, and then love them. But all this is not easy, and so we often prefer to place ourselves, others or material things in the first place, hoping that they will bring us peace. This is all lies, except for that which God tells us. Peace is possible but ONLY through love for God, for the others and toward oneself, and so I wish to invite you all so that we constantly pray that God may free us from false gods, and that ONLY He may get the first place in our lives.
At the moment Jacov, Marija, Mirjana and Ivanka are here in Medjugorje. Marija was here all of October with her three small sons. She speaks with the pilgrims daily, and is available to them all. Jacov also gives his testimony and comes to have the apparition in the Rectory. Ivan is in the U.S., and a few days ago, Vicka also flew there, where she will attend several conferences. Jacov is also preparing for a trip to America. Mirjana and Ivanka are at home. Ivanka remains entirely secluded in this area and at home. Mirjana speaks with pilgrims nearly every day. One can say that the visionaries, after 16 years and four months, have always been available to share their testimony about what Mary is telling them with all those who come here.
Medjugorje is full of pilgrims. At the moment we have about 500 pilgrims from South America, where most of them are the representatives of Peace Centers. They represent some 20 countries. This is the 8th Conference that the followers of Medjugorje have organized. Last year they decided to have the 8th meeting here in Medjugorje. The theme is chosen according to the Holy Father's program. This year is consecrated to God the Son, Jesus, and that is why the title of this Conference is: MARY LEADS US TO JESUS This meeting lasts a week -- from October 25 to 31. The program started up on Apparition Hill, and for this Conference, the visionaries who are here, our Pastor, Fr. Ivan Landeka, Fr. Jozo, Fr. Slavko and others will speak. At the same time, during this last week of October, we have about 1,500 French pilgrims who have come to have a Retreat here. We also have a great number of pilgrims from Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Germany and Italy. In the first 20 days of October we had more than 100,000 communicants. Every evening we have an average of 50 Priests concelebrating and just as many are available for Confession during the evening program. Medjugorje is alive, and God, through the intercession of Mary, is most certainly giving many graces. For this we can only be grateful, and ask God that, we may, during this time of grace be able to discover Him through Mary.
Through Marija Pavlovic Lunetti we have again received a message from Mary, the mother of God, and the Queen of Peace. Again she says...
ALSO TODAY I AM WITH YOU
We can never emphasize too much that the first, most important and the only new message of Medjugorje is the daily presence of Our Lady. ONLY by way of this daily presence can we come to understand what is happening in Medjugorje, and why it is happening. There is simply no other way to explain the phenomenon of Medjugorje. God has, during this time, sent us Mary, the Queen of Prophets, and she is speaking to us. When one asks oneself what Mary is doing here every day, then the answer is very simple -- she is present. The pilgrims come because she is here, and she then leads all of us to Jesus.
AND CALL ALL OF YOU TO RENEW YOURSELVES BY LIVING MY MESSAGES
She was sent, as She herself told us, in order to help us. Every person, society, community, the Church, all of humanity, and the entire world, all need a renewal. The renewal consists in our needing to rebuild our relationships toward ourselves, the others, and toward God. All that Mary wishes for is peace, as She told us so early on. Peace means peace for the soul, the spirit, the mind, and the body, for every human being, for every family and for the whole world. The relationships toward themselves, toward the others, toward God are, among many people, simply wounded. With this renewal to which Mary is calling us, it first of all concerns the healing of these relationships. When man sees himself, the others and the material world around him in the correct place, then life will become renewed. But we do not wish to forget that Mary calls us to convert, and conversion means for all of us to turn away from everything that destroys life, and to turn toward God. A person who finds himself on the path to God, renews himself and becomes a new person. The old person is a person of sin, while the new person is, as St. Paul would say, one of spirit. All of us really need such a renewal with ourselves, with the others and with God, for if we do not do so, humanity will destroy itself. It is very important that we again listen, accept and then live Mary's words, ALL of Mary's words, and then we will, in so doing, also renew ourselves. But, the most important message is really Her call for us to pray. Mary then wishes that...
PRAYER BE LIFE FOR YOU
It is not difficult to discover that there is a prayer crisis among Catholic Priests. Many simply do not pray. Many pray, but just a little. There are people who come to Mass, but who do not pray in order to delve into the secret of the Eucharist. Everything is solved when the love for God, for the others and for ourselves is given to us by God. Prayer becomes life when there, the love for God is, in our hearts. Then everything that we do becomes a prayer, because prayer is nothing else but an encounter with God. A praying person meets God in all that he does, and only when a person who lives constantly in God's presence can become a new person. So only through love will prayer become our life, and our life a constant prayer. St. Paul wrote for us, 'let everything that we do be done for the honor of God'. If this parish and all its pilgrims live like this, then they will also become...
AN EXAMPLE TO OTHERS
People today are in danger of being lost. As we mentioned already earlier, many complain that they are in an "identity crisis", and this means that they no longer know who they are, what they are called to do, or what they are supposed to do. It is certainly a very difficult situation for those people, but it is a chance for those who decide for a life according to the Gospel, to help them. People whose hearts are empty, and who have lost the purpose of life, are just as open for that which is lived by the others. The times of crisis for us Christians are not a new opportunity for us to judge the world or to complain about it, but rather these times are a new chance to show the others the way, and this is Mary's wish -- to bring light to those who presently find themselves in darkness, to show the right path to those who are on an erroneous one, to bring the truth to those who are led by lies, and to show a new life to all those who have fallen into death. People need examples, and we Christians have the right example in the lives of Jesus and of Mary. We are truly graced, that we are able to be with Jesus and Mary from whom we can learn how to live, from whom all graces come so that we live the way we have been called to, and in this way becoming examples for the others. Jesus called upon the Apostles several times to become the light for the world or like a city up on a mountain that shows the rest of the world the way to go. It is not easy to become an example for others but, through the grace of God and the intercession of Our Lady, it is possible.
I DESIRE FOR YOU TO BECOME CARRIERS OF PEACE
The main goal and the title that She gave Herself when She began appearing here was the Queen of Peace, so She wants every one of us to become a carrier of peace. But for this there is also a condition -- that in our lives, God's peace actually reigns. For this to occur in our hearts, we must really be free -- free from all dependencies in this world, and completely free for God. God gives peace when we work along with Him for peace and, to have peace in our own hearts, we must be able to forgive, to reconcile with others, to love others, and to be good. Here it concerns true peace about which the true prophets spoke in the Bible. But man is always tempted to trust in a fake prophet, while expecting to acquire peace on the wrong path. This is always a deception of which we must free ourselves for us to be able to live in true peace. Peace is the deepest yearning in the human heart, but to have it we must constantly fight against egotism, against pride, against jealousy and all other negative passions. Mary also wishes us to bring...
We must discern carefully between egotism and joy. We are all tempted to seek joy through pleasure, but that is a superficial joy that is not sufficient for life. Real joy always comes together with peace, for the person who fights against the negative inside him, the person who is ready to sacrifice himself for the others, is able to have real and true joy that ONLY comes from God. It is the joy about which Jesus said that we should have when others are against us, when they persecute us because of justice, because our names have been written in the book of life. Joy that comes from God does not exclude the problems, the difficulties, the tears and the crosses, but this joy is a grace that simultaneously means a strength that helps us with whatever may happen, while always staying conscious that God gives us peace and joy -- a peace and a joy that the world simply CANNOT give. Mary wishes for each of us to carry peace and joy to, as She says, ...
TODAY' S WORLD WITHOUT PEACE
When we think of the youth, the families, the countries and the nationalities, then we see perfectly well that there is no such thing as peace. In the same way one can say that this is a sad world. Those who are only running after pleasure become deeply disappointed and then sad. In this sorrow then many other negative things occur that will destroy his heart, his family, his family, and finally all of humanity. While those who are filled with God's joy can help many people in this world. It is enough to visualize only Mother Teresa's smile in order to think and understand what this means, for the joy to which Mary is calling us really does only come from God, and can then, remain in the heart that has accepted God's grace of being able to love. Again we must become conscious that we Christians have not been sent into the world to judge, criticize or accuse it, or to announce to it only of the black, the catastrophes and the apocalypses, but rather the situation in the world is a good opportunity for us to offer it the peace and the joy of God. We, here in Medjugorje, are constant witnesses for the fact that God gives us peace and joy. This too is the strength of Medjugorje, and therefore always more and more people are coming. God will certainly, in His love and mercy, give His peace and joy to all people. But, as in the message in September, as well as in this message, Mary says...
THAT IS WHY, LITTLE CHILDREN, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!
...and She repeats it three times. We are all ready to accept peace and joy for which we yearn so deeply, but sadly enough we are not always ready to accept the conditions that bring us to peace and joy. One of these conditions is also prayer. Prayer is an encounter with God, and God is the source of all true peace and joy. When we meet God in prayer we will always have joy, and when we think of Jesus' sufferings and Cross, and everything with Mary at His side, then we may not forget that Jesus died on the Cross in peace and in joy, that Mary also suffered all this, along with Him, in peace and in joy. Jesus and Mary recognized, accepted and lived all that happened to them as the will of God. That is the reason for peace and joy for every person. That every suffering and every Cross can turn for the good is what is special about Christian joy. But it is always a danger that these messages and the words about them become empty when we, in our prayers, do not work for it with all our hearts. Finally Mary says again that...
I AM WITH YOU AND I BLESS YOU WITH MY MOTHERLY PEACE
Thinking only of the relationship between mother and child, then everything is clear. A mother is always the source of peace for the children. A child that rests on its mother's lap has the experience of motherly peace and is blessed with this peace. The children who have not experienced parental love, in the true sense, as it is wished for by God, know especially well what it means to have received a motherly blessing. Mary's presence here in Medjugorje is also a great grace in this sense. She comes and She blesses us all with this motherly peace. We, however, must be open and ready to accept this peace and so, in this context too, there is only one more thing to repeat, that we must pray and then through our prayer, open our hearts so that God can do exactly as He has promised. That is why, let us now pray...
God, our Father, You are the source of all peace and of all joy, now that we have entered into the words of Mary, Your humble servant, we ask of You to give us the grace that we may all live Your message that You give us through Mary, and that our lives may, through them, be renewed. Free us of everything in us that has become old and sick, renew us so that we may become new people -- people of the spirit who live love, hope and faith. Fill our hearts with the spirit of prayer, so that prayer may become our life, and so that we may become examples for the others. Free us from all that hinders us from praying with the heart and from meeting You in prayer. Free us all false gods, and from all that hinders us from letting You take the first place in our hearts. Send the spirit of prayer to all people who do not pray, who pray just a little, or who still have problems with prayer. Fill our hearts, O Father, with Your peace and joy so that we may become carriers and witnesses of Your peace and joy for all those whom we meet or with whom we live. Give us the grace that we may discover that You are the only One who gives peace, because You are peace. We thank You that it is Your will that we have peace. Bless this present world without peace. Bless all the people who are on the wrong paths following the wrong prophets and are, in this way, being misled. Give them Your peace, reveal to them Your holy will which wishes to give all of us peace. Give the entire Church the spirit of prayer so that we, in Mary's school, can really give all others the love of the loving Father. Fill our hearts with Mary's motherly peace, so that we may live Your peace daily and thereby carry it to all others, in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit and Mary's intercession, we pray, O hear us, for You live and reign from eternity to eternity. Amen.
Fra Slavko Barbaric
Last Modified 10/28/97