Sunday, December 25, 2016

Simbang Gabi 9 (Fatima Centennial): the Miracle of the Sun


On the last day of the Simbang gabi, we read the Song of Zechariah. His voice restored on the day of the circumcision of John the Baptist, Zechariah sang in praise of God for sending a Savior in fulfillment of his promise to Abraham and the prophets. He also recognized the vocation of his new born son who will go before the Lord to prepare his way. The song of Zechariah is being used as the morning prayer of the Church because of these words: “In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Perhaps, the reference to the dawn also makes this song an appropriate reading for the last day of preparation for Christmas. Christ, the Radiant Dawn, is about to break upon us. He is the Sun of Justice who shall shine upon us who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

The Fatima apparitions ended with a great miracle that our Lady promised to perform for all to see. It rained heavily on October 12, 1917 and on the morning of October 13. The much awaited miracle was lampooned by the secular press. Tens of thousands converged on Fatima in spite of the appalling weather conditions. They were all drenched with the rain but still they stayed on to see this promised miracle. At noontime, as Our Lady spoke with the 3 children, everybody present saw the heavy rain ceased and sky cleared. The sun appeared in a way that everybody could look at it directly without their eyes getting hurt. It trembled and began to move to and fro across the sky, throwing out multi-colored lights in all directions. Then, all at once, the sun detached itself from the sky and came plunging down like an enormous fireball on the screaming multitude. Everywhere people were falling into the mud in panic. They were crying out their sins and pleading for divine mercy as they cringed in imminent expectation of the end of the world. At the last moment, the sun halted its plunge and climbed back into the sky to resume its normal position and brightness. As the crowd heaved a sigh of relief, everyone noticed that their clothes and the entire Cove da Iria were completely dry. The solar miracle was only the 3rd time in history that God had used the sun to perform a miracle – the other 2 occasions being the prolongation of daylight at the prayer of Joshua (Joshua 10), and the sign given to the king of Judah in 714 BC by the prophet Ezekiel in which the shadow of the sundial retraced its path by 10 hours (Kings 4:20). The uniqueness of the solar miracle of Fatima was that its exact time and location were publicly announced months in advance.

Pope Paul VI in 1967 would later on say about the miracle of the sun: “It was eschatological in the sense that it was like a repetition or an annunciation of a scene at the end of time for all humanity assembled together.” Indeed, there could be no greater sign than the miracle of the sun. At Fatima, there were 100,000 eyewitnesses coming from all faiths who at the time of the miracle, were all convinced that the end of the world had come. And afterwards, when they found themselves alive and dry but still quivering with fear, they realized that God had stamped his Mother’s words with a colossal preview of His 2nd coming.

The Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon said in 1977: “While the death of God is proclaimed with arrogant glee, Fatima appears like a great supernatural light. It is God who reveals himself with the impressive majesty of Sinai.” In the time of great incredulity, God used the sun in order to affirm the faith of his faithful that he is alive. In the Gospel, the Lord spoke of signs in the sun, in the moon and the stars that would speak of his coming (Luke 21:25). The solar miracle is definitely that sign in the sun that the Lord referred to. The sign of Fatima, the promise of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, is the great promise of the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of God. It is a dazzling sign of hope for a tormented and fearful world. It is a wondrous pledge of God’s unwavering love for his wayward children. Although the much of the world has abandoned him, he has not abandoned the world. Instead, through his Mother, the Lord promises to withhold the terrible arm of his Justice and to forgive his rebellious children if a “sufficient number” respond to the invitation of his grace to find refuge in his Mother’s Immaculate Heart. He assures us of final reconciliation and peace.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “The Last Judgment will reveal that God’s justice triumphs over all the injustices committed by his creatures and that God’s love is stronger than death.” (CCC, 1040) The miracle of the sun points to that day when God’s goodness will triumph over all evil. Indeed, the Lord Jesus is that Sun of Justice who will burn the arrogant and the evil doer. But he shall heal those who fear him (Malachi 4:1-2) In the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is found the promise of the victory of good over evil, Justice over oppression, peace over violence, humility over arrogance, mercy over sin. Let us do what our Mother asked in Fatima and bring the world closer to that era of peace.

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


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