Decide for holiness – A reflection on latest message from Our Lady May 25, 2021
On Tuesday 25 May 2021 Our Lady gave us her monthly message to the world from Medjugorje. This message is full of wisdom, hope and commitment.
Here is the message: Dear children! Today I am looking at you and calling: return to God because He is love and out of love has sent me to you to lead you on the way of conversion. Leave sin and evil, decide for holiness and joy will begin to reign; and you will be my extended hands in this lost world. I desire that you be prayer and hope to those who have not come to know the God of love. Thank you for having responded to my call.
The first thing that strikes the eye is her maternal love for us! She says to us: Today I am looking at you and calling. Her attitudes are precisely like those of her Son Jesus! He who looks and calls! To the young man who showed interest in following him closely here is how Jesus behaved towards him: And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Mark 10:21). Regarding the other verb Our Heavenly Mother is using, calling, Jesus did likewise. As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him (Matt 4:18-20).
Our Mother Mary calls us to go back to God! Return to God because He is love and out of love has sent me to you to lead you on the way of conversion. A lot of great theology and, most of all, biblical spirituality in this verse! The Book of Lamentations tells us: Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord! (Lam3:40). Is this not a word that you and me need in this day and age? Then, God is love! Another biblical truth! He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him (1 John 4:8.16). The last bit of this sentence is very much significant. Our Lady says: He … [God] has sent me to you to lead you on the way of conversion. In iconography Mary is represented as pointing the Way, which is Christ. This icon is known in Greek christian spirituality as the “Hodighitria” or the Blessed Mother teaching, indicating, or showing the way. The representation of Mary in this icon says a lot of her role in our salvation both communally and individually. She is seated, and looks out at the believer from a position of dignity, holding the Infant Jesus on her left arm. The Child himself, already a miniature adult, is also represented in majesty. He is the “Ancient of days”, the Lord of the Universe. Mary’s right hand shows or points to the child, so that one’s attention is immediately caught from the mother to the child.
Real conversion is a fundamental decision for God. That means leaving sin. Mary’s maternal advice: leave sin and evil reminds us of our baptismal promises. In these promises we promise to reject satan and all his works and all his empty promises. But that is part one of the story. Part two, in Mary’s words, is the following: decide for holiness. In practice this means, according to the baptismal promises, believing in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth; believing in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father; and believing in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Obviously, believing means living according to what we believe.
For Mary, holiness brings joy! She explicitly says: Joy will begin to reign. In his angelus address of Sunday 13 December 2020, Pope Francis teaches us: This is joy: directing toward Jesus. And joy must be the characteristic of our faith. Even in dark moments, that inner joy, of knowing that the Lord is with me, that the Lord is with us, that the Lord is Risen. The Lord! The Lord! The Lord! This is the centre of our life, and this is the centre of our joy. Think carefully today: how do I behave? Am I a joyful person who knows how to transmit the joy of being Christian, or am I always like those glum people, as I said before, who seem to be at a funeral wake?
Another powerful phrase which Our Lady uses in this message is the subsequent: And you will be my extended hands in this lost world. Mary wants us to work with her hand-in-hand for the salvation of our brothers and sisters, together of course with ours first and foremost! From what she is telling us she is affirming her complete cooperation with Her Son Jesus in faithfully fulfilling the Father’s loving designs for this lost world. Jesus told us: For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The Holy Spirit made Mary expert in living this verse by her direct cooperation with Her Son Jesus!
Furthermore, Mary told us an exceptional phrase in this message: I desire that you be prayer and hope to those who have not come to know the God of love. She wants us to be a living prayer and hope for those who cannot experience God’s love in their lives. Pope Francis elaborates what Mary is telling us in one of his homilies at the Santa Martha, precisely the one he did on 4 February 2015: This is how contemplative prayer helps us in hope. Living the substance of the Gospel. Always pray. Then, Pope Francis, within the same homily, invited us to pray your prayers, pray the rosary, talk with the Lord, but also carry out this contemplative prayer keeping your gaze fixed on Jesus. He said that hope comes from this prayer, adding our Christian life unfolds in that context, between memory and hope.
May we faithfully respond to what Our Lady is calling us to do by doing it wholeheartedly and faithfully!
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap