Dear brothers and sisters, I will speak in French, excuse me, for I have not yet learned the beautiful Croatian language!
We have gathered around the altar on the 5th Sunday of Lent. We have two more weeks from the Easter, and in a week time, it will be Palm Sunday, and in two weeks we are going to celebrate, at the end of Holy Week, the greatest Christian Feast Day - the Feast of the Resurrection.
The Word of God that we have heard today speaks of the resurrection and shows us three perspectives of resurrection, three views on resurrection. The first one is historic. We know that Jesus Christ the Son of God and the Son of man, lived on this planet, in the Holy Land of Palestine. We also know that it was announced by prophets that he was going to be born, just as the prophet Ezekiel did, that we have just heard today. He brings the words of God who is telling us: “I am now going to open your graves and I will lift you up”, and he repeats “I will open your graves and raise you from your graves.” That is a prophesy, he already sees the arrival of the Messiah. We know that Jesus died and rose from the dead, which is the foundation of our faith. Without that foundation of Jesus’ Resurrection, our faith would be empty.
The second perspective is liturgical, it is the way of the Lent. For forty day we prayed and we will continue to pray, we fasted and we shall continue to fast. We have become more generous towards others and we are going to do all the more in the future. The Spirituality of Lent is very well known here, you know it very well.
Therefore, the liturgical path that is preparing us to reach the third perspective, that is the third view of resurrection and that is the perspective of our life, the life of each one of us. We live for resurrection, we march towards resurrection, we go through death in order to resurrect. The final goal of our earthly life is resurrection. During this path we are to resurrect, anticipating that final perspective. Our partial resurrection is our conversion. Jesus says, and repeats, there is a death of a body, but he also speaks of a death of the soul. The death of a soul is more serious, a far greater threat, because it is then we might die for all eternity. Therefore, each time when we continue to convert ourselves, we are turning ourselves towards God who is the source of life, the source of Eternal Life. He is also the path to love, for God is Love. It is merciful love that brings us inner peace and the joy of life.
However, there are two conditions; the first one is faith. Jesus, before performing miracles, requested faith. “Do you believe I can do that? Yes, Lord, I believe! I strongly believe! Then, it is that faith that opens our heart for conversion, that opening through the sacrament of confession, it is sacramental confession, when our hearts are cleansed, opened and filled with the Holy Spirit and the Holy Trinity. Christ confirms that to us in the Book of Revelation, He says that he is standing at the door of our heart, knocking on it. If the Most Holy Trinity dwells within it, we become the Temple of God, His own shrine.
I would like to return to the historic perspective. In the days ahead of us, we are going to read in the Gospel, we are going to see that Jesus’ enemies, are throwing their nets around Jesus, threatening Jesus all the more every day. He knows and He is aware of that. He knows what His disciples and apostles do not know. There is somebody who follows Him on that path of suffering, His Passion. It is His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is always near, She suffers with Him, She feels her helplessness. St. John Paul II spoke about her faith which was so hard. Often, we refer to her as to Our Lady of Seven Sorrows. Throughout Her life, She suffered so much pain and Her suffering is growing together with Jesus’ towards the Passion of the Way towards the foot of His Cross. On the Way of the Cross, at the fourth station we meditate Jesus carrying his Cross, encountering His Mother and the Gospel tells us that She was the witness of His horrifying death on the Cross. In Her own arms, She received the massacred body of Her Son. The Christian tradition teaches us that before Mary Magdalene, Mary encountered Risen Christ.
Then, in the Perspective of the life of each one of us, the perspective of resurrection – She is here too. She accompanies us, She follows us, She participates in our suffering and in our pain if we live that in the perspective of God. She wishes to save us, to bring us to conversion. We have to experience that spiritual presence of Hers.
We call Her, especially here, the Queen of Peace. In the litanies of the Blessed Virgin Mary, there are some twelve titles when we call Her Queen and Queen of Peace is the last. Mary is the Queen. When we contemplate the Glorious mysteries of the Rosary, we speak of her as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. She has part in the characteristics of the kingdom of her Son, as the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Her reign is universal. She is everywhere and we are allowed to honour Her everywhere. We thank Her for Her constant presence in the life of each one of us.
The Queen of Peace, it is the fruit of conversion. She brings peace into our hearts and thus, we become people of peace in our family, in our society and in our country.
Peace is endangered in the whole world. The Holy Father, Pope Francis said ‘the third world war is partially already here’ and the most terrible are civil wars, those that take place among people that live in the same country.
Dear brother and sisters, for twenty-one years I lived in Rwanda, Africa, In 1982, Our Lady was appearing there and She predicted the genocide in Rwanda ten years before it actually happened. Ten years before. When She gave that message, nobody understood it. During three months of the genocide one million people were slaughtered. The apparitions of Blessed Mother in Rwanda were already recognised. She introduced herself as Mother of the Word, Mother of the Eternal Word.
Therefore, that honouring, so intensive here, is of the greatest importance and is necessary to the whole world. We pray for peace because the destructive forces are tremendous today. Weapon trade grows constantly. People are in the conflict, families are in the conflict, societies are in the conflict. We need a Heavenly intervention. The presence of our Blessed Virgin Mary – that is this intervention. It is God’s initiative.
Therefore, I would like to encourage and fortify all of you, on behalf of the Pope as his Emissary. Let us spread peace throughout the world through the conversion of hearts.
The greatest miracle of Medjugorje – it is confessions we have here. The Sacrament of Reconciliation and Mercy. It is the Sacrament of Resurrection. I would like to thank all of the priests, who come to hear confessions of the faithful, as when today when around fifty priests were at disposal for confession, serving people of God.
I spent many years working in the western countries, in Belgium and in France, and I can tell you that confessions vanished from there, the individual confession has practically disappeared in the western world, with the odd exception here and there. Therefore, the heart of man is closed. The world is becoming dry, human heats are closing down, the evil is strengthening, conflicts are multiplying. Therefore, let us all be the apostles of good news, conversion and peace in the world.
As I have heard words here which say that non-believers are those who have not experienced the love of God yet, as the one touched by God’s love and grace, that is irresistible, cannot resist that. So it happened that we are witnesses of that what saves lives. We are the witnesses of that what saves the world.
As the brothers Franciscans told me, pilgrims are coming here from eighty different countries throughout the world. This calling has been spread to the ends of the world, just as Jesus said to the Apostles, sending them into the world. You are the witnesses of the love of Christ and the love of His Mother and the love of the Church.
May God strengthen you and may He bless you. Amen.