Featured article from April's Spirit of Medjugorje

Homily at English Mass, June 21, 2014
     The following is a transcription of a homily from the English Mass in Medjugorje on June 21,2014. We thank Cathy Nolan for taking the time to transcribe it. Cathy said the priest was from Ireland, but she did not know his name. You can view the homily in the archives of homilies at the English Masses at www.marytv.tv.

     A number of years ago, when I was a student, I met a priest from one of the South American countries. We were talking, and I asked him about his country, and I asked him what percent of the population was Catholic. He said it is 100% Catholic, but 95 % of the people believe in
     Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the other 5% believe in God. One of the things that has struck me so forcefully since coming to Medjugorje is that in all of the messages of
     Our Lady, and in everything that happens here, the focus is always drawn to Her Son. That is what She wants. I saw it yesterday in the beautiful Veneration of the Cross. We saw it so movingly on Thursday, the Feast of Corpus Christi, with the beautiful and moving Corpus Christi procession, and the reverence that there is here for Jesus, present in the Eucharist.

     As we were walking around the streets on Thursday night [in the procession], I thought about something that I read a number of years ago. Many of you here may have heard of Sr. Briege McKenna. Briege McKenna is an Irish Franciscan Sister who, in her own life, had an extraordinary experience of healing. And as a result of that, she has dedicated her life to traveling the world, sharing the message of the Gospel. And a number of years ago, she wrote a wonderful book called Miracles Do Happen. And in one of the chapters of that book, called "The Transforming Power of the Eucharist," she describes an incident. She was in South America and a priest that she knew invited her to his parish, and he asked her to come with him on a journey. It took them hours to get there on very rough terrain, to a community in a very poor area, where he was able to go only once a year to celebrate Mass.

     She describes the scene as they arrive on the mountain side area...there is no church, no semblance even of a church...there is a broken down table for an altar. But there are hundreds and hundreds of people walking towards this spot for this one Mass that they have every year. She describes the poverty and the squalor, and she was really disturbed by it. In her own words, she said she had been a daily communicant since she was twelve years of age, but this one Mass changed her life. And the reason for that was that just before the Mass, she noticed an old woman coming with a little bundle in her arms, and she went up to this woman, thinking this was a gift she was bringing for the priest, and the woman opened the bundle and inside was a little boy who was very badly burned and was screaming with pain. Then the priest and Sr. Briege said a little prayer with him and the priest suggested that the lady place the little boy under the make-shift altar for the Mass. That she did.
Irish Priest Giving the Homily
The Irish priest giving the homily
     Briege goes on to describe the extraordinary reverence with which these people prayed, particularly when it came to the Consecration. When the Mass was over, Briege went up to see this woman, and to see the little boy, but he was nowhere to be seen when she got to the altar. And she met the woman and she said, "Where is the little boy?" And she pointed to him. He had crept out from under the altar and was playing with the other little children. And
     Briege McKenna looked at the woman and she just couldn't believe it. She said, "What happened?" And the woman said, "Sister, what do you mean, what happened. Didn't Jesus come?"

     I read that passage a few times and I thought I had missed something here. Then I realized it was my own lack of faith that didn't allow me to believe what those people in their poverty had no difficulty believing – in the healing power of Jesus in the Eucharist, that that could happen and did happen. So I am very conscious of that here. We have this privilege of celebrating the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. He comes to us in the most intimate way, and comes to all of us, whatever our state in life. Whatever state our life is in, in our brokenness, in our pain, in our grief, in our sinfulness, He wants to be intimately united with us.

     One last little thought – a few months ago, as you will probably remember, President Barak Obama paid a visit to Pope Francis in the Vatican. The next day it was worldwide news, and there was one picture in particular of these two powerful men meeting together in the Pope's study, sharing a joke. Their faces were filled with laughter. And that morning, I visited one of the schools in my parish at home, in a little village called Aral, a beautiful little school with beautiful children. And in one of the classrooms, the teacher was showing them that picture on a white board screen of the two men meeting each other. And he said to the class, "Which of those men do you think is the most powerful man in the world?" And one little girl…spoke up and said, "Sir, it's neither of them. It's the Guy hanging on the Cross behind them." 

     That to me is what Medjugorje does. It reminds us it's the Guy on the Cross; it's the One present to us in the Word of God today; it's the One present here in the congregation. But most of all, it's the One present here on the altar every time we come to Mass. Because every time we come to Mass, heaven and earth meet together in the most powerful way. That is the message of Our Lady of Medjugorje. It is also the message of St. John the Baptist, whose feast day we celebrate next week, and who is so important here in this village. He was the one who gave us the line, "Behold the Lamb of God. Behold Him who takes away the sins of the world." I think if we could all go away from here, those of us who have been privileged to be invited to this beautiful place, if we could go away from here with just our faith in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, strengthened just by a morsel, that would make His mother very happy.

No comments: