Međugorski Fenomen
17. May 2014.

     In the parish of Medjugorje the celebration of Holy Confirmation is held every year for the eighth grade graduates because usually there are about 80 of them. This year there are exactly 79. Confirmation is scheduled at 10:00 on Saturday May 17.

     A procession formed in front of the church that joined the confirmandi on one side and the sponsors on the other side. Parents and the other faithful remained on the side or in front of the parish church of St. James the Greater. The choir intoned "Come, Holy Spirit!" Then followed the various concelebrating priests including the parish priest, Fra Marinko Šakota and the Dean of Čitluk, Fra Dario Dodig. They took their proper places in church. Also the well prepared candidates, who were catechized by Fra Ivan Landeka, Jr, and passed their examination two weeks before.

     Two of the candidates extended greetings to Bishop Ratko [Perić] in the name of all and petitioned him to administer the holy sacrament of confirmation. An honorary bouquet of flowers was placed on the altar.

     A word of welcome was given by parish priest Fra Marinko to the bishop, the priests and everyone in the church.

     The bishop gave glory and praise to the Holy Trinity and veneration to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, who of us humans is nearest to the Divine Trinity. As St. Paul says in his letter to the Galatians, "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap" (6:7), in the same way it can be said, Do not gamble with those private alleged "messages" and "apparitions" of Our Lady! Keep the public divine truths about Our Lady and the obligatory divine church teachings! Also the veneration of St. James, the patron and protector of this parish!

     The bishop welcomed the pastor and his pastoral associates, all the concelebrants, the confirmandi and all attending the holy mass.

     The candidates duly performed their assignments: the reading and prayers. On receiving the sacrament of holy confirmation they came reverently and in silence so only the words of the bishop and the candidates were heard. They also approached Holy Communion in the same recollected way.

The Bishop's Homily

Jesus: "Whoever sees me also sees the Father "

     Brothers and sisters, dear candidates!

     We read the Gospel passage (John 14:7-14) about God the Father who shows himself in a visible way in Jesus' words and deeds, as Christ himself explained in his response to Philip: Whoever sees the visible Son, has seen the invisible Father. That truth and saying of Jesus is at the same time surprising and amazing. Surprising, because at first glance it goes against the whole Greco-philosophical spirit of that time, which has always believed that God is unknowable, that he can in no way be seen; and it goes likewise against the Jewish-religious spirit, which taught that even Moses, the most chosen among all people, was able to see God in his revealed glory only "from the back" and that God could not be seen in "the face" (Ex. 33:23 ). Now, suddenly, - and it amazes us - Jesus says that it's all so simple, that it could not be more simple. Namely, all see the Son who is in the body with all the human characteristics and needs: food and drink, work and rest, conversation and friendship. If this is so - and it is because Jesus says it - then we can draw conclusions about several important truths of our Christian life:

     First: Family. God came into an ordinary human home. God was a living guest in the ordinary human family of Mary and Joseph. Mary like a real earthly mother and Joseph like a real foster father, though not the physical father, made a home for the Son of the Most High God. So whoever sees that earthly Son, also sees his Father in heaven. He is the image, the likeness, the reflection of the Father. The Son was born just as we are born. He was a little just like we too were little ones. The people were expecting a Messiah who would come as a glorious King, with the horns of Jericho going before him that even shook down the walls of Babylon! But there was none of that! Backyard sparrows flit around and chirped before our new-born King and the entire treasure of the Bethlehem babe was in a tear and the bosom of a lamb in the stable. The birth of Jesus sanctified all human birth, his childhood blessed all childhood, and his entry into family honored every family. We must never forget that and be forever grateful for it.

     - Dear candidates , after birth we are baptized in the name of the Most Holy Trinity. We have our own name and an indelible baptismal character showing that we belong to God as his property, body and soul, past, present and future. We are by faith in the house of the Eternal Father and of His Son and of the Holy Spirit. Although we cannot see him today with our physical eyes, we still experience him in our faith through his commandments and gifts.

     Second: Work. It was not beneath the dignity of the Incarnate Son of God to perform any kind of honest human labor. Even to washing the feet of the apostles. He was a laborer, a craftsman, a carpenter in Nazareth. He understands all of our employments: both when a person is satisfied with his salary and also when there is no payday for months, even when he is fired from work after thirty years of seniority. In the Old Testament labor is presented as a curse: "In the sweat of your brow you shall eat your bread" (Genesis 3:19). In the New Testament by the hands of Jesus the Worker human work is blessed and therefore associated both with external reward and internal joy.

     - Dear candidates, this is also a message for all of us to honestly earn our daily bread, to live in the spirit of the gospel and in truth, in Christ's truth and love, but not to get earthly and materially rich, and above all not at the expense and the detriment of someone else!

     Third: Trials. God knows what our trials in life are. Neither in Nazareth nor in his entering into public life was the life of Jesus a carefree idyll, but a struggle for daily bread, a battle involved in the trials of life, even with temptations by Satan, something is made totally clear in the Judean desert at the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. The Lord then personally defeated Satan, the father of lies and all of his demonic attacks. He put the Word of God first and then the need for bread; the absolute adoration of God and the complete shunning of idols and false deities; he emphasized the glory of God and not the pursuit of vain human popularity. To all the temptations of the evil one the Lord answered with his definitive divine power, "Get thee hence, Satan! Be gone, Satan!" (Matt. 4:10).

     - Dear candidates, today in a special way you will validate what your parents promised in your name at your baptism, that is, deliberately, knowingly and freely to say that you renounce Satan and his deceptive seductions, his false splendor and promises, and cling by faith to God the Creator, God the Savior and God the Comforter, who is the same God in three Divine Persons the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

     Fourth: Love. In the life of Jesus we see God who loves us humans with the gift of bread and forgiveness, of blessing and peace. In Jesus we experience God alive, vitally and providentially caring for us, feeling for us and being with us, loving us all and wanting to bring us all to the knowledge of truth and eternal salvation. Jesus set the example for us and taught us how to care about the Kingdom of God, and how the rest will be added; how to think more of others than of ourselves, because we humans will be judged and saved not by self-love, but by love of one another.

     - Dear candidates, today in this sacrament of holy Confirmation you are knowingly receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom for life, habitual prudence, salutary knowledge, capacity to receive and impart true council, moral fortitude, fruitful piety and fear of the Lord in all things. The more you cooperate with these gifts, the more you will be not only good believers but also real witnesses of Jesus.

     Fifth: Suffering. Ever since love came into human life, her companion suffering also entered. In Jesus we see God on the cross. We humans, however, more easily imagine a God who punishes the wicked. But the Son of God chose the cross and deigned to cling to the cross for us sinners. That is not found in any other religion in the world. His miraculous conception, his crucifixion on Calvary and his glorious resurrection exist only in our Christian faith as the fundamental truth and the way of our eternal salvation.

     - Dear candidates, in today's Gospel Jesus made a big promise: "Whatever you ask in my name, that I will do." He said that (Jn 14:13,14 ). Jesus does not say that he will answer every one of our prayers, but only the one we direct to him in his name. So when you pray to God, ask yourself if you can make this prayer in the name of Jesus. Would Jesus approve what you are asking? Is it appropriate and honorable? Would it be pleasing or not to Jesus?

     Asking Jesus to take revenge on someone, is something with which Jesus will not help, because it's a sin. And he does not consent to anyone's sins.

     Praying to win against another team in soccer or tennis is also something that Jesus will not answer, because he knows better who is closer to him, who is keeping his commandments, and for whom such a transient success would be more spiritually beneficial. He is coaching both teams in their competition and their mutual respect.

     But if you ask Jesus to realize the spiritual vocation you are feeling, to call those that he has chosen to the seminary or the monastery, you can expect him to answer your prayer because you prayer according his and the Father's will.

     Conclusion. When we pray, let us always ask ourselves: if our petition is reasonable, honorable and worthy, and therefore possible? Or is it full of desire centered around myself, that is, a desire aimed at forgetting or diminishing someone else? The prayer most answered is that of the one who prays: O God, prepare me to accept your will for whatever happens in my life, because whatever comes from you is for my permanent good! When you pray like that, you are praying in the name of Jesus! Whoever respects and loves Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the Heart of the merciful one, the just Judge, for whom nothing is impossible, will also experience the Father of love, of mercy and of salvation, and you are also loving the Holy Spirit who makes people rejoice with his divine fruits and gifts! 


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