Reflection on the Message of January 25, 2000
Dear children! I call you, little children, to pray without ceasing. If you pray, you are closer to God and He will lead you on the way of peace and salvation. That is why I call you today to give peace to others. Only in God is there true peace. Open your hearts and become those who give a gift of peace and others will discover peace in you and through you and in this way you will witness God's peace and love which He gives you. Thank you for having responded to my call.
I greet all of you who are following the messages and who wish to reflect with us upon this month's message, and I hope that you have all started this new time well. First of all I again wish to remind us all of December's message and therefore the Christmas message. There Mary called us to become conscious that new conditions for peace are created by way of our 'yes' to peace and our decision for God. Never may we forget that the yearning for peace is with us already when we are born. We do not need to learn this yearning for peace, but so that peace can come we must first decide for peace. The decision for peace means the decision for the conditions in which peace can come and then remain. It is the decision for love that is always in the first place, and here is meant unconditional love which can only come from God. This is the love with which we ought to accept ourselves and also accept the others. Here it concerns a love that is stronger than hate and all other negative feelings in us. And then of course reconciliation, the readiness to forgive and also the willingness to ask for forgiveness are involved. From the other side, when it concerns our decision for peace, we must be ready to fight against our pride, our selfishness, our jealousy, our envy, and our dependency on material things. This is always a difficult battle and we can also say that those who take upon themselves this fight are the same ones who can also decide for and then live in peace. The other possibility, if we are not willing to fight with ourselves, is to fight with the others, and a fight with the others means to try to reign over them so that they will do what we want and to do whatever it may be that ought to serve our own peace. It is in such a position that all conflicts, all wounds and all that is negative in humanity come about. The decision for God is also dependent upon the decision for peace. Our God is God of peace, God of love, God of mercy, and when we decide for Him and then find peace in Him, then we will also certainly remain on the path of peace. Mary also told us to put newborn Jesus in the first place in our lives and then to also let Him be in the first place in our hearts. For then He will also lead us on the path of salvation. To put newborn Jesus in the first place in our lives means the same thing as the other calls to put God in the first place in our lives, but here I believe we can also find another dimension that is important for our spiritual lives. Every mother who has a small child knows full-well that she ought to be available and caring for that child all day and all night. Every absence of the mother can cost the child its life, and so putting newborn Jesus in the first place in our lives is the same as saying that we are deciding to care for Him, and this, in human terms, means to nurture Him with the food that one receives in prayer, by way of fasting, Holy Mass, Adoration and Confession. Many, it is sorry to say, have not accepted this mothering role toward the newborn Jesus, and do not pray or do so very sparingly. When we pray only a little bit, newborn Jesus is unable to grow within us and therefore is also unable to lead us on the path to salvation. I ask of us all that we really remain loyal and Jesus will then remain even more loyal and then be able to lead us on the path of salvation.
Right now we have only a few pilgrims and so things are quiet now, but still we have a larger group here from Korea, a group from Italy and also smaller groups from France, England and America. For New Year's we had a great number of pilgrims here, and we believe that it was between 4 and 5,000. On December 31 we began to pray at 9:30 and Mass began at 11:15 where about 130 Priests concelebrated. We had the Consecration right before midnight and then we all remained on our knees with the idea that on our knees we cross over into the new time, and many pilgrims told us that this call was a very important one for them because it made Mary's wishes for us all very real.
At the moment Vicka, Jacov, Ivanka and Mirjana are here at home, while Ivan and Marija are respectively in America and Italy. A week ago Ivan became a father to a second daughter, and of course we all wish them the best and congratulate them for this new life.
Here I would like to announce that from June 30 until July 6 we are organizing a Week for Priests and it will already be the 5th such meeting. Last year we had about 170 Priests from 10 countries who attended the Retreat. The week has come to be known as PRIESTS IN MARY'S SCHOOL. This year the theme will be THE PRIEST, A MAN OF THE HOLY TRINITY AND SERVANT OF THE BODY OF CHRIST, and this because this Jubilee Year is meant to be dedicated to the Holy Eucharist. And so I invite all groups to pray that Priests will react to this invitation but also that people become active and make their Priests aware of this Retreat. This year the families of this Parish are offering the Priests free room and board as a gift to the Priests. We also invite the local families to participate in these activities as much as possible because with such things a new spirit of community is made possible.
I CALL YOU ... TO PRAY WITHOUT CEASING
We know that Mary has called us to prayer in nearly every message since the beginning. We also know that there are messages in which she repeated the call to pray three times. Here we should notice that she did not call us to constant praying of the Rosary, to being in the Church constantly or being at Adoration all the time. Any of these would be impossible, yet still she is calling us to pray without ceasing. This means that we first ought to understand what this means and then that we practice in doing so. Prayer is an encounter with God, and encounters with God occur in different ways. First in formal prayer, when we take the time to pray or to read Holy Scripture, when we attend Holy Mass we have special opportunities to encounter God. In these ways of encountering God the first and the most important thing should occur, and this is that our heart opens itself to God, opens itself to God's peace, mercy and love, and then is filled with these. When this happens to our heart, then encounters with God become possible anywhere and at all times. When I do my work out of love for God, when I make use of the talents that He gave me toward my love for Him and toward the others around me, then I am also in contact with God. A person who works studiously knowing all the time that his gifts have all come from God and who then through a deep responsibility develops them is also in contact with God. The one who has developed his talents and who serves the others with them then he is also encountering God. We all know that the decisive encounters with God should occur in people. Yet still people exist who have said that another person is Hell, and those are the so-called existential atheists. But for us Christians it is different when we say that someone else is Paradise, and this is when we encounter God in another person. When we think about what Jesus says about the Last Judgment, then everything becomes clear. He only uses one criteria, whether or not we encountered Him in the needy people around us. If yes, then we can go into the Kingdom of Peace with Him, but if not, then we are excluding ourselves from the Kingdom of Peace. So, we can say that Jesus does not ask how many Rosaries we prayed, how often we attended Mass or how many days we fasted, but rather if we recognized Him in the others and then loved them. But in order to encounter the others in this way and to be able to recognize Jesus in them we must of course, first of all pray. And it is this way that we can come to understand what is meant by praying without ceasing and then also to live this. When we now look at Jesus' prayer-life we are able to say that He prayed often, that He prayed up on the mountains, that He remains in prayer also when all the others are looking for Him. His prayer is His firm contact with His Father. Then He also prays for his Apostles and for all those who will be listening to their words. He is in constant contact with the Father and that is why we can say that He was praying without ceasing and therefore is also calling us by way of His mother to do the same. St. Paul also speaks of ceaseless prayer, and there too we ought to understand it in the same way. Mary can only ask of us that our prayers, our Masses, our Rosaries and so forth can make us capable of encountering God in the others and in all of nature. She remains loyal to the message of the Gospel, and that is why she was also able to tell us to go into nature to encounter God the Creator and to praise and to adore Him there. For us Christians it is simply very important to think and to speak about this idea of praying without ceasing, because this then also becomes the criteria for our own lives. When we come to think about the words of Isaiah in which he criticizes people who come into the Temple to pray and to make offerings but who then go home and continue with the same injustices. Then it says that God does not like such a fasting and such a prayer, but rather that we encounter God in prayer and then also to improve our lives and through this improved life to be willing to encounter God everywhere.
IF YOU PRAY YOU ARE CLOSER TO GOD
This idea should again be emphasized. So that we may experience God's closeness to us and to be able to encounter Him we must primarily make time for this to occur. This is why so many Christians remain without a true encounter with God and thereby remain far from Him, only because they have not taken enough time for prayer. The worst thing that can happen to people is that He lives far from God, and the one who distances himself from God also distances himself from the path of truth, from the light, and from true life, and therefore is simply unable to have true peace. The distancing from God of course happens due to sin because sin is something that we do and through which we isolate ourselves from God and from the others. Isolation is the result of a distant from God and no-one can live well in this way, and can therefore not have true peace.
AND HE WILL LEAD YOU ON THE WAY OF PEACE AND SALVATION
That is why so many people are suffering terribly mentally, spiritually as well as also physically in these times. In order to be healthy and to remain healed one must do everything that one can do to be close to God, because only through this closeness to God can we come closer to ourselves, to the others around us, and to all of nature as the creation of God. The one who stands close to God can also be close to other people. Many children today suffer and find no use in life because their parents are not present enough for them. How easily does it happen today that parents take far too much time for their work, and here it is especially important that the mother decide to be very close to the children. It is a drastic mistake for the raising of children when the mother goes to work and thereby gives too little time for the children, and this especially so when the children are still small. Nothing and no-one can replace the mother, and the same goes for those parents who in order to silence the children buy them too many toys or just put them in front of the TV. This too is a big mistake in their idea of what raising children is all about.
THAT IS WHY I CALL YOU TODAY TO GIVE PEACE TO OTHERS
The most important thing in the growth of children is the proximity to their parents who in turn also have enough time for them. Again, it is only through their proximity to God that people become capable of being close to the others and then by way of this closeness then also lead the others to God and to His peace.
ONLY IN GOD IS THERE TRUE PEACE
True peace is only in God. The Psalmist for instance compares his own soul with a child which sits in his mother's lap because he has found peace there. From the many experiences of the Saints which are all pulled together when St. Augustine says: "My heart could not come to peace until it found peace in the Lord". He described his distress and lack of peace when he says that he sought God everywhere -- in the creatures, in people -- but found Him nowhere until he found peace in God Himself. Certainly one of the most beautiful testimonies about God is that God is the God of peace and that His will is our peace, and this we find several times in Paul's letters. This peace for which each of us yearns, and which can only come from God, can only be found when we open ourselves to God and then stay with God in prayer and there then discover peace.
OPEN YOUR HEARTS
How deep the yearning for peace is in people can be seen in the description of eternal life or eternity when we speak of the Kingdom of Peace. So this is emphasized even more than the Kingdom of Love or the Kingdom of Life. The Kingdom of Peace is promised to each of us and we can also look into this Kingdom here on earth and find this pilgrimage path when we decide for prayer. When we wish to describe man's path, then we can say that man is a pilgrim who yearns for God and who wishes for the fulfillment of his life and this then is described as peace. During this entire Jubilee Year we are all called to very consciously go on the path where we can more easily find God. And certainly the primary purpose of a pilgrimage to Medjugorje consists in man's wish for peace and he again finds it in God's having sent his mother here. Mary has, in emphasizing peace, really hit the heart of the issue because it is peace that has come to be threatened. The more peace is threatened, the easier it becomes to give the diagnosis that man is very far from God. The nearer we come to God the closer we come to true peace which we certainly also will seek every day when we are in prayer.
AND BECOME THOSE WHO GIVE A GIFT OF PEACE AND OTHERS WILL DISCOVER PEACE IN YOU AND THROUGH YOU
Twice she tells us to give the peace to others. Once she says 'give' and the other time she says 'give a gift', but either way it is clear that what God gives us is the gift and then what we have been given by God as a gift we should then also give to others and then in so doing it becomes our assignment. Nothing that man has received may he then keep and everything that we out of our selfishness wish to keep for ourselves that we will lose. The one who does not wish to love also is unable to live in God's love. When someone does not wish to give peace to others, then he has already lost his peace. Only in accepting and then giving can man live in true peace. And it is of this that Mary wishes to make us conscious. The others seek and yearn for peace and exactly this is our Christian opportunity to step in for the others. If we carry true peace within us and offer true peace to the others, then we will become witnesses of peace and love and therefore witnesses for God. This is why we must always ask ourselves how capable really are we to give witness. Sometimes we think that people do not wish to accept what we want to offer them and then accuse us that our teaching or our pastoral work does not bring about enough fruits. This is certainly true, but when we accuse someone, although we should not accuse anyone, that it is this way, often we say that the children or the Christians do not want, this then is not true. When something in this respect does not work, then we must first of all ask ourselves, us singly, the parents, Priests and the entire Church. So when we are unsuccessful in passing along the peace in the world, then it does not concern the world that does not want peace but rather ourselves because we are not carrying true peace inside us and then naturally are also unable of giving it to others. So this call of Mary's to witness true peace to the others means first of all that we with all our hearts and beings seek God's peace, and only once we have found it will it then flow over to the others and therefore also given to them.
AND IN THIS WAY YOU WILL WITNESS GOD'S PEACE AND LOVE WHICH HE GIVES TO YOU
This is the assignment that has been given to us and especially to all those who have come Medjugorje by God, but God does not seek anything from us that He did not give us to begin with. In this way may we all remain in Mary's school, and for this may we all now pray...
God, our Father, and our God of Peace, we thank You that only in You is there true peace. We thank You that we can be with You without ceasing and we thank You that You let Yourself be found in that we can come closer to You in prayer. Please free our hearts and our souls of everything that hinders us from being close to You and that keeps us distant from You. Free us of all things to which we are bound and to which we have tied ourselves and by way of which we have be made incapable of coming closer to You. Free us but also forgive us for everything where we were responsible for our being bound. Heal our hearts, our souls, our past and also all our memories from all that which forbids us from coming closer to You. We ask You, in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, free us from Satan and of all his oppressions, his attacks and his wish to destroy all peace, so that our hearts may come to rest in You. Give us the experience that we may rest in You like a child does in the lap of its mother. Lord, we ask of You along with Mary, the Queen of Peace, for all people and especially for all pilgrims that we, during this new time, may be pilgrims along with Mary and remain there with her. We ask You on behalf of all youth who have so far not been able to find their way to You; all who have been distracted away from the path to You; all those who have sought fake peace in alcohol and drugs and all others who have sought wrong paths to peace, bring them back into Your closeness, O Father. Because they will never have peace when they are far from You. In Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fr. Slavko, Medjugorje
January 27, 2000