Fr. Mark Cherry in Medjugorje
Our Lady has called each of us to this place called Medjugorje. It is a place of peace, a place of prayer, and a place where there is abundant graces flowing. Think of the extravagant love of your Heavenly Father, who has arranged every detail that we all might be here today. How God has gone out of His way to bring us here from the many parts of the world, because He loves us. He wants us to know Him, intimately, and He wants us to grow in our relationship with Him.
The Lord, Jesus Christ, in today’s Gospel, is praying what is known as His High Priestly Prayer, as He prepares to depart for His Father. He prays for all of those who will come to believe in Him. He prays that they will be protected and guarded, that they will have a share in His joy, that they will be kept from the evil one. He prays that they will be consecrated to the truth, for it is only the truth that can set us free. It is only in truth that people can find true unity. He speaks of the love of the Father, the love the Father has for each one of His children. It is that same love that He has for His Son. Now, Saint Paul, that great apostle, that great evangelist, he experienced this Risen Christ on the road to Damascus. This experience changed his entire life. He encountered the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He encountered Love itself. Because St. Paul had experienced the Risen Christ, the love of God, the forgiveness of sins, and because he was filled with the Holy Spirit – and we will celebrate that holy feast of The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit this coming Sunday – because of all of this, St. Paul was able to endure hardship, great trials, persecution. He was beaten, stoned, put on trial, thrown in prison, all for giving witness to the truth; to the truth of the Risen Christ. The truth, as I said, will bring unity among those who will receive it, but it will also divide and separate the many who reject it. Being here in Medjugorje is an opportunity, an opportunity to encounter that truth for the very first time, to hear and to receive that truth. It is an opportunity, if we have encountered that truth, truth as a person, Jesus Christ, to go deeper in our relationship with Him.
I want to speak just quickly about three important aspects about truth, and I have already mentioned them. The first is peace. When the Lord Jesus appeared to St. Faustina in the early 1930’s in Poland, with the message of Divine Mercy, which He wanted her to promote throughout the whole world, one of the many things He said to her was, “Mankind will not find peace, until it turns to Me, for I am Mercy.” It is only in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, that one can find peace, true peace. We can only find peace in our hearts, when we are reconciled to our Father in Heaven, through His Son our Lord Jesus Christ. In Medjugorje, we have an opportunity that is given to us whenever we come to this place of peace, and that is to find that peace that only Jesus Christ can give us. We find that in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Confession in where priests generously give of their time so that they can reconcile us with God, and we can find that peace. Not only can we find inner peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we find healing. It is one of the two Sacraments of the Church that are specifically ordered towards healing, and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation we find healing. Healing for past wounds, and we’ve all been wounded in one way or another. We have all been wounded by our sin, perhaps by the sins of others, perhaps under the circumstances of life that are many times beyond our control. And in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Lord pours out His peace into our hearts. He begins that process of healing those wounds that we all have, and often they are deep wounds. So let us find that peace here in Medjugorje, while we are here.
Medjugorje is a place of prayer. Prayer is lifting our hearts and minds to God. Saint Therese of Lisieux called prayer, “something great, something powerful.” She said this about prayer, she said, “I simply say to God that which I want to say and He always understands me.” I like that, He always understands me. Without prayer we cannot know God. Without prayer the life of grace that we have received at Baptism will eventually die. For us, prayer is like breathing, we will die spiritually without it. Here in Medjugorje, we have the opportunity to spend time in prayer, talking to God, but also just as important and perhaps most important is listening to God. Finding those places of silence here that you can spend time talking to God and listening to Him through praying the Rosary. There are many ways of praying: the Rosary, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Hours with praise and worship – so spend time in prayer and you will encounter God. You will know Him, and He will speak to you. And after you leave this place and go back to your homes, continue to pray each and every day and the Lord will guide you. He will lead you. Our Lady says, “Pray, pray, pray.”
Lastly, this place called Medjugorje, is a place where abundant graces are available and flowing. It’s not that they’re not flowing back home. But as we’re on pilgrimage we have an opportunity to avail and enter and ask for those graces in a way that we sometimes don’t do that in the busyness of our life. I have been speaking lately, to my parish back home, of the importance of getting out of the shallow waters of faith into the deep waters of faith. I have been using the analogy of a hurricane to explain what I mean by that. I know we’re all familiar with hurricanes, and when hurricanes come ashore, they churn up the waters as they form in the deep ocean. They come ashore, and as they are coming ashore with those raging waves, anything that is in the shallow waters, anything that is right by the seashore is either severely damaged or destroyed. There is absolutely no protection from those raging waves in the shallow waters by the seashore. But, out in the deep water where the hurricane forms, sure it churns up the water on the surface and the raging waves, but underneath those surface waters, deep in the ocean water it is calm, it is still calm. That is why we need to get out into the deep waters of faith, grow deep in our relationship with the Lord Jesus, because there are going to be storms. Jesus said, when the storms come, not if the storms come, there are going to be storms that we will all face in our lives both personal and there are storms that come upon humanity. When those storms come we want to be in the deep waters of faith so that in our souls, because we are deep in the Lord, our lives are hidden in Him, we are not shaken by those storms. We are not confused by those storms. We are not deceived by all of the deception that is out there today. That in our soul we have a calm that cannot be shaken, although the exterior waves might be raging around us. I want to encourage you to go deep, deep into the waters of faith and begin that process right here in Medjugorje.
All that I have spoken of this morning boils down to one thing, it boils down to trust. Will we trust God? Will we trust is His goodness, in His plan for us? Coming back to Saint Faustina, Our Lord said this, “I desire that souls distinguish themselves by boundless trust in my mercy. I Myself will attend to their sanctification of such souls, I will provide everything they need to obtain sanctity. These graces of My mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is trust. The more the soul trusts, the more he will receive. Souls that trust boundlessly are a great comfort to me because I pour out all the treasures of My graces into them,” I pour out all the treasures of my graces into them. Jesus then says, “I rejoice that they ask for much because it is my desire to give much, very much. On the other hand, I am sad when a soul asks for little, when they narrow their hearts.” Jesus wants us to trust in Him. Jesus, I trust in you. Those are the words of Divine Mercy. Will we trust in God? Will we ask for those abundant graces that are available to us? Yes, there are very scary things going on in the world today, much evil in the world, much sin, but where sin abounds there is much more grace, the Scripture says. So there is more grace available to us, at this time, than any other time in history, and that’s why the Lord wants us to know Him and wants us to come to Him, as He said to Saint Faustina, and ask in trust, in faith, for those abundant graces that He wants to pour out into our lives. Not only into our lives, but into the lives of others. We not only pray for our own needs, we are called now, at this time, to pray for the needs of others. The Lord is looking for those who will be intercessors, those who will stand in the gap, who will prepare the breach as Ezekiel says. So the Lord is calling all of here today to be those people, those people who will trust in God, trust in Jesus and those abundant graces that He has for us, but not only for us, He wants to bring those graces to others, through the witness of our life, the witness of truth, through our prayers and through our good works.