(Medjugorje) Thursday September 23, 2010 – Feast of St. Pio – Father Simon, Middlesbrough, United Kingdom
In the Sacristy there is a plaque on the wall that says, ‘Father, celebrate this Mass as if it were your first Mass, your last Mass, your only Mass.’ I am going to share my homily with you as if it were my first homily, hence I am nervous.
“I come from a country that has become very materialistic, a country where man and woman are increasingly creating a life without God*, and a life where God has been silenced by bad TV, and where bad living is the norm. A place where the Crucifix has been replaced by beautiful pictures. The Holy Water font has been replaced by a holder for car and house keys. And, the Bible easily replaced by a buyer’s catalog.
“Where I come from at the moment, the people are mostly retired. Society teaches us to spend the final years of our lives in materialistic happiness, because for many people they believe there is nothing else after this life. It is sad really, that their lives are spent creating a vision and anticipating their retirement. They fail to realize how quickly this life passes away.
“I look after four very large hospitals back home. In England, what do you think the average age a woman is before she dies? 76. And, for a man it is even shorter, 71 years of age. Now, I see some of you with shocked looks on your faces, and if you are coming up to that age, God bless you! And, if you have passed that age, God help you! Perhaps, that is a very good place to start at, with God’s help and with God’s blessing. Because, what we need to do is to realize that God is in our life. We need to awaken more to the Wisdom of God in order that He can give us courage to embody His message of the Gospel.
“Yet, if each one of us were honest, we all fall short of the call to His discipleship, through our thoughts, through our words, and our many actions. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why God manifested His Mercy so beautifully. Padre Pio, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation; he could read your soul like a father to a child, and point out your sins in a way that you would come closer to God. We need to be honest with God and with ourselves, that way he wouldn’t keep your soul more than 8 days from the Sacrament of Reconciliation. How long do we keep our souls from seeking God’s Mercy? For some, it might be days, for others months, and for others even years. How easy it is to allow time to accumulate between the Father and ourselves? Padre Pio is there to remind us of the Mercy of God, and the Padre works more powerfully today. I’m sure there are many here who could tell us a story of how St. Padre Pio has helped them in their lives.
“There is one moment in the hospital that I want to share with you today. I’m quite nosey in the hospital, I go from bed to bed and it doesn’t matter if the patient is Catholic or not. There was this man that I walked by and he said,’ ‘Father, go on, God doesn’t want to bother with me.’ I like a challenge, so I step in a side room to pray to Padre Pio and to ask for help from Jesus of the Divine Mercy. I went in to the man, and as I got to talking with him I found out that he was a lapsed Catholic for over 40 years. I encouraged him to make his peace with God. Later, in the conversation I found out that he has cancer and he said to me, ‘Father, the doctors told me that I might have 6 years to live, or 6 months, 6 days, perhaps 6 hours.’ All the better I told him, now is the time to make your peace with God. Well, that man didn’t have 60 minutes, he died within the hour.
“Do not allow your coming here to Medjugorje to be a mere “accident,” but rather may it be an “incident” of God’s Grace. Have the courage to live the message of the Gospel and continue the walk of discipleship. May we, like St. Padre Pio, impress upon our eyes the Cross of Christ.” – Fr. Simon, UK
*Our Lady said on January 25, 1997: