Today, we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of our Lady’s Apparitions at Medugorje. These are indeed the longest apparitions in history of the world that I know of. Three of the visionaries no longer see our Lady, except on special occasions, and three continue to receive their daily apparitions. What does it all mean? When and how will it all end? That is a question that nobody can answer. It is all left to divine providence.
As we celebrated the 40th Anniversary, I was thinking that 40 is a Biblical number. The chosen people wandered in the desert for 40 years. The Israelites were in captivity to the Philistines for 40 years. Nineveh was given 40 days to repent. Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah. Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights on Mt. Sinai two times. Kings David, Solomon and Joash each reigned 40 years over Israel. Moses, Elijah and our Lord all fasted 40 days. God fed the Israelites with manna in the desert for 40 years. And these are just a few of the instances where where 40 years or 40 days are mentioned in the Bible as having some significant importance. Are we coming up on something? Will our Lord and our Lady bring us out of the desert of sin, mediocrity and hopelessness? For that, I have no answer. Our Lady will on do what God wills and in His time. Until then, it’s up to us to make a difference in the world around us.
For the past 40 years, our Lady has been giving a consistent message. The messages can be summarized simply in the following six words. Prayer, fasting, conversion, faith, peace and reconciliation. As we celebrate, we also ought to take inventory. How well have I responded our Lady’s messages? It seems that our churches are much more empty than they were at the beginning of the apparitions in 1981. Am I different after following our Lady’s messages over the last 40, 20 5, 1 year(s)? many people were/ are excited when they first hear that the Blessed Virgin Mary is appearing in our times. They can’t wait to get the next message. But after some time, when the messages appear to be the same and nothing dramatic is happening, they fade away. You and I are only responsible for our own response. We can’t make others convert, pray, fast or change their lives. We are only responsible for our own prayer and sacramental life. As they say, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. If we share our Lady’s messages with other people, that is wonderful. However, the most important thing we can do is live the messages. To live our Catholic, Christian life with zeal and fervor means more than any message. Lord tells us: “You are the light of the world” and “You are the salt of the earth.” he changes the world with 11 faithful Apostles. We are many more.
Hopefully we don’t run to see what the new message is, without taking them to heart. If all of us who have visited Medugorje in the last 40 years lived the messages, the would be a much different place. Medugorje must not become a novelty that wears off like an old toy. The messages must be prayed, studied and lived. Every day offers new possibilities to grow in holiness. It is an opportunity to be more faithful than we were today. As St. Francis once said: “Let us begin again, my sisters and brothers, for up until now, we have done little or nothing.”
Fr. Jay Finelli