October 18, 2013 A.D.
Fr. Rico in a homily at St. James in Medjugorje offers us a challenge to put God in His proper place, and for us to take our proper place:
Isn’t it amazing that we are on this journey to be less so that we can be more. Isn’t it interesting that in the first half of our lives it’s a matter of I must increase so that God can increase. And as the years go on and nature takes its toll we realize our limitations, we realize that maybe John the Baptist has something special to tell us, I must decrease so He can increase. What does the Blessed Mother give to us on our journey? Because, if you look at the essence of what She gave and there can be many interpretations, it was all about consenting. Consenting to God’s presence, that action in Her life to do what ever needed to be done. Does that make sense? Consenting. Saying yes.
So as we gather in any sacred space, or in any sacred time, or even in the activities of everyday life, it’s a matter of us decreasing and the Lord increasing. Not my will but Thy will be done. So, as we consent to God’s presence and action in our lives, what are some of the things we consent to? The writers say there’s four consents we have within our one consent of saying Lord, Your will be done. The first is that we need to consent and be very firm in the aspect of celebrating the fact that we are wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God—all evidence of the contrary, not withstanding. That’s the gift that’s already been given to us. Be proud of it. Not in the sense that you will accomplish it, or I’ll accomplish it. That’s the dignity of our existence. And once one can truly embrace the fact that we are wonderfully made as a child of God, a temple of the Holy Spirit, then we move into the second phase of our consent.
Look at Mary’s life, you can see the parallel. The second consent is the fact that with God’s help all things are possible. Each one of you could get up here and give witness to the fact that you went into situations that you thought were dead end situations and you ended up in a certain sense opening to a whole new experience. Am I right? My father used to say to me, in Italian, he used to say to me, “God slams the one door in your face, but if you spend the rest of your life looking at the door that God slammed and you never turn in the direction in which you are looking for happiness, you never notice that two doors opened behind you giving you more choices.” With God’s help all things are possible if we are willing to change the direction, in which we are looking for happiness, and give up the idea my way or no way.
The third aspect of consenting is that everything is given, everything is given, everything is given! And when I hear people sometimes say, “Well, I work hard for what I have,” remember, you were put in a situation where work got you rewards. The vast majority of our brothers work hard each day and they’re very happy to still be existing. Where we were placed made a big difference. Where we were placed challenges each one of us a little more, because when much is given, much is expected in return.
The last part of the consent is to pray. And in our prayer and our good works to truly embrace the fact that what is our condition to be able with God’s help to come to a point where we can honestly say, I live now, not I but Christ who lives in me. The power of the consenting—that we are wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God; with God’s help all things are possible; that everything is a gift; that we are to become Christ like. That’s our goal.
Years ago, when I was conducting a ten day retreat I didn’t realize that among the retreatants was a noted poet, who, at the end of the retreat because we had talked a lot about Mary and Her role and consenting, wrote a poem for me which she gave me at the end of the retreat. And I’ll never forget these two lines. Are you ready? “May the mantle of Christ protect you, and may the skirt of Mary warm you.” Again, may the mantle of Christ protect you, and may the skirt of Mary warm you. And all you have to do is say yes. Not maybe… not later… but yes. God bless you.
– Fr. Carl Rico from Newark, NY
Our Lady of Medjugorje said on May 16, 1987: