The season of Lent is the time the Church gives to us to re-examine our lives in the light of the word and the call of Jesus: “Be converted and believe in the Gospel”, and in the light of Our Lady’s messages given to us for nearly twenty years. All the events around us are signs of the times, so also Our Lady’s apparitions are one of the signs for the time we live in. Through each sign, God wants to tell us something. This is why we have to know how to read them. In our day, Our Lady appears and speaks to us through visionaries, calling us to choose the ways leading to life. God always called prophets who admonished the people and called them to conversion and to a change of life. Here, in Medjugorje, Our Lady presented Herself as the Queen of Peace, Mother of every human being, but She is also a Prophet of God through whom God is speaking. Prophets are not those who predict future events, but those who re-actualize the word of God. Through Her messages, Our Lady does not speak about future events, but - with Her Motherly heart - She wants to awaken the voice of God within us. She wants to tell us what God expects from us at this moment. In last month’s message, She has already prepared us for this Lent, calling us to prayer and fasting. She puts into our hands these powerful means, with which we can stop wars of our incredulity, distrust and all that is frightening us.
This month’s message is short, but inexhaustible in its content. It tells us that this time we live in is a given time of grace. Her apparitions and messages are a gift to each open heart that is ready to listen to Her Motherly voice and call. Our Mother cannot tire of us, Her children, because Her love impels Her to talk to us. We can be tired and stop, but She cannot. As there is a time of grace, there is a time when those moments of grace shall be taken from us. Let us benefit from these moments, let us fill our spirits and our hearts with strength, in order to be able to stand in time of temptation and the ‘desert’. Let us live these moments of the presence of God through the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary, listening to Her words. The disciples of Jesus, His apostles, knew moments of the presence of Jesus, but also moments when they were deprived of His presence. It was the time of their denial, infidelity, time of abandoning the Master, time of betrayal, of fear and of desolation. Our Lady wants to nourish us, to fill us with faith, love and peace, so that we may withstand all our personal and family temptations and the ‘deserts’ that can happen in life. Let us live these moments of the presence of Our Lady as a gift and as a task given by God. All the love of Our Lady is condensed in only one word: pray. This call seems like a cry of a mother for her children. It seems that She has nothing more important and more necessary to say in Her message than that. There is no other way to God, nor does God have another possibility to approach us except through prayer, in which we will give Him our lives and our families. God possesses everything except our love. Our love, He cannot obtain by force, if we do not allow Him, if we do not give it to Him. There is nothing more important and more necessary for us than the love of God, as the need of our body is for food. We cannot live without this precious experience. According to St Paul, science will pass, love only remains, love that has its source in God. We do not live from the knowledge that God loves us, but from the experience of the love of God. Our experience is the only thing that cannot be taken away from us. Just as a hungry person cannot survive only by knowing that food is good and necessary, but by eating it; we must taste this encounter of God’s love and experience it. That is how in the life of faith we live - by “tasting” the love of God who makes us live free of fear, free of doubts, free of incredulity, free of illness and even free of death.
In his Lenten message, Forgiveness - the only way to peace, Pope John Paul II calls us to a fervent and trustful prayer to the Lord, so that every person may have a new experience of His mercy. Only this gift can help us to accept and to live more and more joyfully the love of Christ that “is not quick-tempered, does not brood over injury, does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth”. (1 Co 13,5-6)
Medjugorje, February 25, 2001
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