Homily given on August 20, 2011 by Fr. Simon Broughton from England
There was a young priest who worked so hard that he died early. He got up to the pearly gates of Heaven and St. Peter was there. Now the young priest wanted so much to go to into Heaven. St. Peter said to him, “Now before you go into Heaven, I am going to give you a piece of chalk. With this piece of chalk, I want you to write all your sins on all the stairs that you walked on to come to Heaven.” “Oh dear,” thought the young priest, but he said, “If it gets me to Heaven, I’ll do it. No problem.” So the young priest starts writing each sin that he has committed on the steps and he got carried away with it. And then he noticed the old priest he was with – a monsignor. And he said, “Monsignor, what are you doing here?” He said, “I’m going for more chalk.” (laughter)
When we come to Medjugorje, we are in need of so much chalk to write down to our Heavenly Father everything we need, not only our sinfulness, but all our family needs, our difficulties, everything. Our Lady understands. She understands everything that you are going through and what you are going to go through. Last night I walked the mountain with my mom and my brother, and it is strange that Gospel* I chose, I didn’t know mum and my brother were going to come in late. The altar boy came over and said, “your mother and your brother have just come in.” (laughter) I thought, God’s word is always alive. (laughter) But Our Lady knew you were coming here. She called you here because She is your Mother. She knows that you need God so much in your own life and in your family’s lives. That is why She has asked us to join Her school – the three ‘r’s. Not reading, writing, and arithmetic, but to “respond” to God’s message, to begin again to “relive” the life with God, and to “rebuild” His Church.
Who is the Church today? You are the Church. You are the mothers, the brothers of Jesus. You are called today to relive God’s Word and relive it because it is alive and active – to rebuild and rekindle in your life the spirit of God, to rebuild in your homes and your families God’s promise. When we do that, we will see the glory of God manifest in our lives. We have to respond like Mary’s yes to the angel. We too are called to say yes to God and to give Him everything and not to fear, to have no fear in your heart in saying yes to God, but to say yes wholeheartedly.
Now I am sure there are some here who have been far away from God and I say to you do not fear. Do not fear. Come close to God, because when you do, God will embrace your life. Come close to God because God wants to come close to you. We have to believe the way of the Gospel and that is very difficult in our world today because it is a call to give of yourself wholeheartedly, without reserve. To give yourself to the Almighty and to realize you and I are children of God, and being children of God you have nothing to fear. God promises to rebuild the Church in a time when the Church is faced with so many evils. But we overcome these evils in faith, in trust and in the grace of God. Our Lady’s Magnificat is actually a very prophetic message, especially for our time, because in the Magnificat Our Lady is saying to us that God is coming to turn the world upside down – nothing more, nothing less. Society, society wants to turn our world upside down but it is always for the wrong reason. Families are divided. Family life is destroyed. Marriages break up. People turn to alcohol, drugs, and other things in life. But Our Lady wants to bring us true hope. It is a clarion call to relive God’s Word. Our Lady shows us that God brings us hope to a broken world. Therefore, we are to trust in Him, to live God’s message. When we live His message there will be great possibilities in your life and in my life because we will continue to grow in the holiness of the spirit. I promise you the power of God will be made manifest in your life. Trust in Him. It does not matter how far you are from God, God calls you to come closer. This time for you and I is a life-changing moment because God is calling you to walk with Him on the path of life, to respond, to relive, and to rebuild His Church.
I spoke to you about the possibilities that God brings when we turn to Him and the power and the glory of God that is manifested in all that we do. I am going to share with you one small story. I look after four hospitals and one of them is probably the biggest hospital in the northeast of England; that is where I am from. We gathered once for Sunday Mass, and I will be honest with you, I was actually spent. I was so tired I could just about say Mass – just about, I was so tired. There was this couple, a husband and a wife, who were sitting in the front of the chapel in the hospital and they were both crying. I went over, to be honest, I was reluctant to go over. I went over to them and I asked them, “What is wrong. Why are you crying?” They said their five-year-old child had caught meningitis and their five-year-old child had now been in a coma for eight days. The doctors and nurses had said to them, “Prepare yourselves for the worst. Your daughter has not responded to any of the treatment we have given. It is only a matter of time now.” You can imagine being a mother or a father – the pain and the haunting they were going through. They weren’t Christian. They weren’t Catholic, yet they found themselves before the altar of God, asking God who they did not know, for His mercy and His love, and to help their child in their moment of need. I said to them, “In a moment we are going to celebrate the Eucharist.” I could see by the expression on their faces, they did not understand. I said to them, “To us Catholics, this is the moment we encounter God, where God is present.” I said to them, “We will pray for your child and we will pray for your family. And afterwards, can I come up to the Intensive Care Unit and we will say a little prayer for Lily.” They were delighted. “Yes, yes, please come in.” And to be honest with you, straight after the Mass I went up to the Intensive Care Unit, I could hardly walk, I was so tired. And my only prayer was, “Mary, Our Lady of Medjugorje, listen to mother and dad’s prayer. Help them.” I had a Crucifix that was blessed in the room of Apparitions and I always wear it. I took the Crucifix off and this little baby, this little child of five, she was covered because we couldn’t touch her. I immediately placed the Crucifix on top of the child and she woke up from the coma, straight away. So much so that the nurses and doctors, when they heard mom and dad crying, granny crying and the family, they thought of the worst. The nurses came over, the doctor and they could see their sadness immediately turned to joy and their fear gave way to hope as the little girl opened her arms and was fine. In fact, she was so well, she didn’t need any help whatsoever. She went home the next day.
God can do great things in our lives, but we have to trust in Him. We have to say yes. We have to begin to relive the way of Jesus in our lives, to listen to the Gospel and to respond wholeheartedly. You are the mothers, the brothers of Jesus. You are the living Church. You are called in our time to build God’s kingdom and not to be fearful, but to trust.
* The Gospel Father read at Mass this morning was: Now his mother and his brothers arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, ‘Look, your mother and brothers are outside asking for you. He replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers? And looking at those sitting in a circle round him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers.
Fr. Simon Broughton celebrating Mass at St. James Church in Medjugorje on August 20, 2011.