It is the experience of many who return home from Medjugorje with renewed faith and a desire to speak of their pilgrimage encounter, to discover that objections, dissension, and even ridicule, are mostly to be found within the family unit. Friends, casual and long-term, perhaps through politeness, are seemingly more prepared to listen.
Sometimes, a person’s new-found faith and zeal for God can prove a challenge to others, especially within families. This is what Jesus warns about in today’s Sunday Gospel. Anyone called to witness the Truth will be opposed, especially in the family. All prophets, those who proclaim the Truth of God, will be challenged and even put to death in some cases. St Paul explains to the Hebrews in today’s second reading how Jesus was put to death because of his witness.
In today’s first reading it is Jeremiah who discovers himself cast out and left to die in a deep well because the people find his witness difficult to accept. It challenges them. So they get rid of him, or so they think. But Ebedmelech, another witness to God’s ways, steps forward to proclaim the truth, and tells King Zedakiah that the people have done a wicked thing in casting out Jeremiah in this way. Thankfully, this time the king listens to the truth and sends men to rescue Jeremiah, after he experiences a change of heart .
Jesus knows that his message will cause division on earth. Some will accept it and others will not. He says: “Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth. No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided: three against two, and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against the father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Luke 12 : 51-53
One comparison Jesus doesn’t make is between husband and wife. Is this because he considers them as one?
One thing is certain, Jesus does not want our families to be divided. But this can happen when we put the love of God in first place. However, we must always remember that our families are a gift from God. If we cannot show love to them then there is little chance we can give love to others. We are called to nurture and take care of this special gift given to all of us.
Our Lady often speaks about love in the family in her messages from Medjugorje. She says that if the family is united in prayer, then the family will grow in love. Fr Peyton, who promoted the Rosary, used the slogan: The family that prays together, stays together.
It is not easy to be a witness for God, especially when there is dissent from within the family but we can take heart from the opening prayer of today’s Mass: Almighty God, ever-loving Father, your care extends beyond the boundaries of race and nation to the hearts of all who live. May the walls, which prejudice raises between us, crumble beneath the shadow of your outstretched arm.
We can also be greatly encouraged by knowing that God has a plan for each of us. For many, it is to help our families to discover the love of God in their hearts through our witness, as difficult as it may be at times. Living Our Lady’s messages will give us the grace to persevere in love, and from this our families will be truly blessed.
Dear children! I beseech you to start changing your life in the family. Let the family be a harmonious flower that I wish to give to Jesus. Dear children, let every family be active in prayer for I wish that the fruits in the family be seen one day. Only that way shall I give you all, like petals, as a gift to Jesus in fulfillment of God’s plans. Thank you for having responded to my call. May 1, 1986
Dear Children! Today, I am inviting you to a renewal of prayer in your families so that way every family will become a joy to my son Jesus. Therefore, dear children, pray and seek more time for Jesus and then you will be able to understand and accept everything, even the most difficult sicknesses and crosses. I am with you and I desire to take you into my heart and protect you, but you have not yet decided. Therefore, dear children, I am seeking for you to pray, so through prayer you would allow me to help you. Pray, my dear little children, so prayer becomes your daily bread. Thank you for having responded to my call. January 25, 1982
Dear children! Today I invite you to prayer. Let prayer be life for you. A family cannot say that it is in peace if it does not pray. Therefore, let your morning begin with morning prayer, and the evening end with thanksgiving. Little children, I am with you, and I love you and I bless you and I wish for every one of you to be in my embrace. You cannot be in my embrace if you are not ready to pray every day. Thank you for having responded to my call. August 25, 1985
Dear children! Today I invite you to decide for peace. Pray that God give you the true peace. Live peace in your hearts and you will understand, dear children, that peace is the gift of God. Dear children, without love you cannot live peace. The fruit of peace is love and the fruit of love is forgiveness. I am with you and I invite all of you, little children, that before all else forgive in the family and then you will be able to forgive others. Thank you for having responded to my call. January 25, 1986
Dear children! This is a time of grace for the family and, therefore, I call you to renew prayer. May Jesus be in the heart of your family. In prayer, learn to love everything that is holy. Imitate the lives of saints so that they may be an incentive and teachers on the way of holiness. May every family become a witness of love in this world without prayer and peace. Thank you for having responded to my call. October 25, 1984
Today is a great day of joy and peace. Rejoice with me. Little children, in a special way, I call you to holiness in your families. I desire, little children, that each of your families be holy and that God’s joy and peace, which God sends you today in a special way, may come to rule and dwell in your families. Little children, open your hearts today on this day of grace, decide for God and put Him in the first place in your family. I am your Mother. I love you and give you my Motherly Blessing. December 25, 2006