I Implore You, Do Not Come to Medjugorje Again-Fr. Jozo 4-9-08
Fr. Jozo Zovko, is a beloved priest, associated with Medjugorje. When I went to Medjugorje, I didn’t know of his fame there as a living saint, who could read souls, pierce hearts, and whose hands could heal through the power of the Holy Spirit.
I knew none of that in 2001, as I was walking into the Church in the town of Široki Brijeg, where Fr. Jozo used to speak to and minister to pilgrims. I simply saw a Franciscan priest smile at and greet my husband with eyes that were deeply kind and seemed to penetrate through my husband’s skin, with a hint of omniscience. Fr. Jozo reached out his hand to touch my husband’s face, and in a fatherly, masculine gesture tapped the side of his cheek. This was a look at a touch that every boy, every man longs to receive from his father.
In all of three seconds it began and then it was over. But those three seconds of Fr. Jozo’s greeting embedded themselves in my mind and heart in a perfect picture.
Fr. Jozo is a prophet in our time. It is like a prophet to occasionally shake people out of their spiritual slumber, with harsh words like the following, which directly challenge the people standing before him. On two separate pilgrimages to Medjugorje, I heard Fr. Jozo speak in his characteristically soft, wise, and prayerful words–never I hear him boom and thunder like this. As this year comes to a close, let us take to heart Fr. Jozo’s message and take our own souls very seriously. After the New Year, I will post some of Fr. Jozo’s commentaries on living Mary of Medjugorje’s five main requests of prayer, fasting, Bible reading, Eucharist, and Reconcilation. May Fr. Jozo’s prophetic, uncompromising words below, be both the threshing floor and the threshold of our own spiritual awakening.
Wednesday April 9, 2008
Fr. Jozo – The following is part of the talk that Fr. Jozo gave to a group of English-speaking pilgrims on March 31, 2008
Welcome. A Happy Easter to you all – to you, to your loved ones, to your families. An abundance of peace and joy and Easter blessings to you all. When Jesus appeared to His disciples, the Mother, before them, saw Him. And Mary Magdalene also saw Him before the disciples. Thus, we the sinners also have a chance. We are called to meet the Mother, to meet Jesus, to meet the Church, to meet the new better life of the Church that believes, the Church that prays, the Church united with the Mother. That is what Medjugorje is – for twenty-seven years where we recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread; that temple were Jesus draws with His own blood, where He forgives the sinners. How beautiful it is to kneel in Medjugorje and confess, to enter into the river, this current of God’s mercy to be purified, cleansed. I ask you to look here to your left. You see the image of the Divine Mercy? That mercy of God bids each one of us and frees us from every evil, every woe. And we feel well. Why? Because God becomes so near to us, so close. Perhaps you as a priest or a lay person did not meditate on the message of Our Lady, Her message of the last month, where as it shocked me. You might say, “I am a Christian already, I go to church regularly. I celebrated Easter.” Do you remember what Our Lady said a week ago? “Dear children, work on your personal conversion.”In this springtime, you will see where a person abandoned his field or his garden. And everyday it grows worse and worse. All the weeds will grow, showing that the owner does not love the land to work on it. Our Lady wants us to work on ourselves. God wanted us to work the ground and bear fruit. And even more so we are called with our life, our soul, our marriage. Our Lady says work on your conversion. If you only knew what conversion was. If only the grace that took place, and God would illuminate our hearts – that as priests and lay people, as parents, when they recognize what conversion is. What is to convert? It is a wondrous call. The first call of Our Lady was for conversion. And twenty-six years and 8 months, Our Lady again says convert. Work on your conversion, thus saying that you have neglected your heart and soul. You have neglected the spiritual values that are so abundant. They (the heart and soul) are full of weeds. They are full of fruitlessness. You are not sowing the good and fertile soil. To sow the seed, much needs to be prepared. The soil needs to be cleared, plowed, nurtured, and only then the seed is planted and again must be nurtured and cared for. Because as Jesus said, if the seed falls upon the rocks, if it falls amongst the thorns, if it falls on rock, road, or thorns, it bears no fruit at all. When does the seed bear its fruit? When it falls on the good, prepared soil. On good and noble soil, every grain bears fruit – one thirty fold, another 60 fold, another yet 100 fold yield. Let us try to reflect on what that means.
More than 40 years ago, I took time to seriously contemplate this parable. I came to the field where I grew up. I took one grain of wheat and placed it on my left palm. And with that grain in my heart, I saw the life and the fruit from the seed. Then I piled around that one grain, thirty other grains as a parable of Jesus. And my eyes were opened. Thirty grains is a lot. It is almost that I couldn’t even distinguish the one grain in the center. My entire palm was full of grains. To get 60, I added 30 more grains. And nearly my palm and fingers were full. And to get 100, I had to add over 30 more. I remember when there were so many grains in the palm of my hand and fingers, they started to fall, one by one. My entire palm and fingers were not enough to hold 100 grains. And all I could say was, “My Master, what an incredible teacher you are. You have opened my heart. I recognize your parable.” I feel that this is conversion. Because Jesus says in the Gospel, the Father wants you to bear fruit, then your fruit will remain. The Father is glorified when you bear much fruit. But if I do not work on my conversion, then I am a rock. Then I bear weeds. Then I permit the enemy to bring darnel and plant it therein. It is terrible when the darnel, the weeds come about, because Jesus says, it must not be uprooted because then the wheat will be uprooted with it. Much time has past when the harvest is finally separated. How necessary it is to understand Jesus’ parable. Am I asleep? Am I working on myself? Or am I just asleep, like the owner of the field that sowed the seed and went to sleep, thinking this is wonderful. I have done my job. But didn’t count on that the enemy would come and plant and sow darnel…We stand here before Our Lady, the parable of Jesus and before the words of Our Lady. We stand before Her message, “work on your personal conversion.” What does that mean? In twenty-seven years, She has built the theme of conversion in many of Her messages. And a week ago, again She said, “you are far from meeting with God in your heart.” What does it mean, far? It doesn’t mean that you are close. Father (a priest) comes from Chicago. Chicago is far from here. He has to cross the entire Atlantic to come. He has to cross much of the American continent to come. They came far. And from that far away, we need to take a step in order to meet God. Why? Because we are far away. Who is saying this? She, She who sees where we are, that we may not be deceived. Our Lady is not speaking to those who are not on pilgrimage. She’s, first of all, speaking to us who are on pilgrimage. You are far away. Why? Because you take the messages irresponsibly. I feel that in my heart. Many of you feel that Medjugorje to be just some kind of news, some kind of an information, insignificant. But Our Lady in Her messages, in Her apparitions, says that they are important for the entire world – for the entire world. I know that the sun is important for the entire universe. If it were to be extinguished we would never be, there would no longer be life. Imagine something that is so important for the entire world as Her apparitions, as Her messages, as Her time among us. Those of you who live so close to the Anglicans, Protestants, those who have lost the love for the Blessed Virgin, thinking that She is no longer important. They think that they can turn Her aside and only convert through Jesus. That is over – No. She wants to give birth to you. She desires to find you each day anew. Behold your Mother. It is better not to come to Medjugorje at all, than to be here superficially. That is why I implore you, do not come again if you do not want to listen to Our Lady. It is better not to come. Because there are people who do not come, there are Bishops who do not come, there are also priests who do not come because they are afraid. They are afraid because Our Lady says fast. It is easier for them to say, “I have not accepted Her messages.” And perhaps it will be easier on the surface for you because Our Lady is calling you to fast, and you yourself are saying, “I can’t.”…That is why you are far away, you are irresponsible for the messages. And that is why the Church, us, we are showing our immaturity. You do not know Her voice, you do not know Her sigh. You do not know Her call to Her children. We act in ignorance…You are far away. You say you are Christian. No, we are not. You celebrated Easter after Lent, but Easter is not a calendar event. Easter is life. It is a meeting with God. Who exits, Who is, Who is responding to you, Who desires to give you the gift of every grace. I cannot receive the gift if I am dead. Therefore, I must be around so that He may say to me through my priest in confession, “I absolve you from your sins. I raise you to new life.” It is He Who died for you…
|In 1992, the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, welcomed Fr. Jozo and told him: “I am with you, protect Medjugorje! Protect Our Lady’s messages!” See http://www.medjugorje.org/frjozoletter.htm.|
God gave us His commandments. And God gave a means of how we are to live. We don’t need somebody else to say to us, “I believe better than this or that. Yes, our weakness says to ourselves, “Yes, it is easier not to fast. It is easier to sleep than to pray. It is easier to sit than to kneel.” I know that you have thrown away the kneelers in your churches because the Risen Jesus is no longer with us. We don’t have anyone to kneel before. Both of our last Popes (Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict) implore us as a Church to return Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in six documents. What are we doing? We are listening to what is easier for us. Not to reply is sleeping, through the lips of the Blessed Virgin Mary, through the lips of our Church. Let us reflect on what it means to work on our own conversion. It really means to stop before the mirror. And I see this as our mirror. This is a measure of our love, Jesus Crucified, the measure of God’s goodness towards us. And as we stand before this mirror, you have to admit that you do not love, that love is not love, that you really do not believe. When you stand before this mirror of the Crucified, you will see that you are an unbeliever. And as St. Francis, you need to ask. He heard the voice of Jesus saying, “Francis, my church is falling apart. My church is falling apart in divorces, in those lost in darkness, in arguments, immorality, sloth. My church is falling apart.” “Lord, what do you want me to do?” “Help me to rebuild my church.” Is it possible to rebuild the Church? Is it possible to have Jesus? It is a gift to help Jesus. It is a blessing to help Jesus. And we desire to fear. This mother who raised Him, and for twenty-seven years has been educating and raising us that we may become a light. She says to us, “You are far away.” For three days, Jesus went far away from Her. Her eyes could not see where He was lost. She set out to seek Him, and today She is seeking us. She is looking for us, and we must recognize that and return home with Mother. How? Is that possible? Yes, that is why She is here among us because it is possible – to hear the Mother, to meet with the Mother, to love the Mother…