Sunday, December 25, 2016

Simbang Gabi 8 (Fatima Centennial): the Immaculate Heart of Mary as our refuge

Jesus I trust in you!

Elizabeth gave birth to St. John the Baptist and her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. Perhaps the reason for their joy was that the Lord has put an end to the curse of her sterility through the birth of a son in her old age. Little did they know that the birth of the Baptist did not simply mean the end of her mother’s curse but it also meant the end of the long wait for the promised Redeemer. “I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; and suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek, and the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.” The parents’ insistence on the name “John” and the restoration of Zechariah’s voice were the signs to the neighbors and relatives that what they witnessed was no ordinary birth. The signs made them ask: “What will this child be? For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.”
“What will this child be?” The prophet Malachi gives us the answer: “Lo, I send you Elijah, the prophet, before the day of the Lord comes…to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come to strike the land with doom.”

Many people simply regard the Fatima apparitions as a doomsday message. The warnings about wars, famines, persecutions of the Church, the spread of communism, the martyrdom of the good, and the annihilation of nations have caught the attention of many to the point that people think that Fatima was designed to scare people. To some people, Fatima is a prophecy about the impending doom that is to come.

However, we forget that Our Lady did not come to scare people about a future that they cannot change. When she first appeared to the children she said to them, “Do not be afraid. I will do you no harm…I am from heaven.” Our Lady introduced herself in the very same way the heavenly visitors introduce themselves to people in the bible: “Do not be afraid.” She came as God’s messenger with a proposal to avert what is to come as a consequence of our sins. She came with a message of consolation: “Jesus wishes…to make me known and loved. He wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” She said to Lucia, “Don’t lose heart. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.” (June 13, 1917) As John was sent to prepare the way before the Lord, so also the Lord sent his Mother to prepare for us the way that will lead us to him. That way is the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The wars, famine, and persecutions that are God’s punishment for the sins of humankind will afflict both the good and the bad. Evil causes suffering to the good people: “the good will be martyred and the Holy Father will have much to suffer.” And yet, we are to bear these sufferings because they purify us. “He is like the refiner’s fire, or like the fuller’s lye. He will sit refining and purifying silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, refining them like gold or like silver that they may offer due sacrifice to the Lord. Then, the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem will please the Lord, as in the days of old, as in years gone by.” Even this evil which causes us suffering does us good. And the Immaculate Heart of Mary is being offered by the Lord to us as our refuge amidst suffering caused by evil. Devotion to the Immaculate Heart, making reparation to her and consecration to her, will be our way back to the Lord.

The Lord does not send to us in our time only the last of the prophets. He sends to us the Queen of the prophets herself. Not only does he open Zechariah’s mouth. He opens to us Mary’s mouth. Through her anguished message at Fatima, Mary calls us back to God. The Lord guides world events slowly towards the triumph of the Immaculate Heart. He guides the world towards that era of peace. Let us consecrate ourselves to her Immaculate Heart. Let the Immaculate Heart of Mary be our refuge in these trying times. Let her be our way back to God.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!   

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