The Bishop’s Homily
Medjugorje, 15 June 2017
Let us receive the Lord worthily and venerate the Madonna properly!
Dear Candidates for Confirmation!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
In the greetings that are addressed to me from candidates for Confirmation in many parishes, I oftentimes hear how you are aware that you are living in times of great challenges, where the winds of this world are pushing or pulling you in the wrong direction: towards disobedience to God's commandments, lies and theft, drugs and various forms of selfishness. These are your everyday battles, but also those of your brothers and sisters, parents, godparents, and all of us. In these battles young friends, you are our hope and we are trusting in you. Hence, today is a great celebration not only for you and for your families, but for the Church in Herzegovina and the entire Catholic Church, for it is the Solemnity of the Body and the Blood of Christ. Today you candidates will receive Holy Confirmation in this parish whereby the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit will be conferred upon you.
Currents and crosscurrents. Soon after beginning his Petrine ministry, the Holy Father Pope Francis at a Mass of Confirmation in St. Peter’s Square, spoke to candidates the following: The Lord “gives us the courage to swim against the tide. Pay attention, my young friends: to go against the current; this is good for the heart, but we need courage to swim against the tide. Jesus gives us this courage! There are no difficulties, trials or misunderstandings to fear, provided we remain united to God as branches to the vine, provided we do not lose our friendship with him, provided we make ever more room for him in our lives.” (Homily, 28 April 2013).
While growing up to the age of the use of reason, which is our sixth or seventh year, and even before that, our parents are constantly teaching us the basic principles in life: what is good that should be done and what is evil which we must avoid. What is the truth that should always be spoken and what are lies that must be avoided. What things are wonderful to strive for and what things are bad that must be eradicated from you and from your home. We also learn to distinguish one’s own property from another's.
In preparation for First Holy Communion in the 3rd or 4th grade of elementary school, our parish priest teaches us that it is a sin to disobey God's commandments. This means the first three that refer directly to God as well as the other seven that refer to our human actions, all of which originate from God and by which we will be judged. Sin is the transgression of God's law not only by outward actions but also by inner thoughts and desires. Our catechist teaches us already in preparing for our first confession, that we tell our sins, that is, the falsehoods, the bad and the ugly things we have done, and to repent for them, which means, to express our sorrow for having offended God and our neighbor, and decide to do wrong no longer. Only then, after being repentant and having received absolution, and accepting our penance, can we then approach Holy Communion to properly and respectfully receive the Body of Christ.
Therefore, we must not receive the Holy Eucharist with a grave sin on our conscience that we have not confessed and repented for, and for which reparations have not been made. St. Paul clearly teaches us: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” (1 Cor 11: 26-29). Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians points out three words concerning the sinful reception of the Body of Christ: being unworthy, guilty, and having no discernment of conscience.
Dear candidates and all you faithful! We cannot avoid keeping in mind all ten of God's commandments that are under attack by various subtle proposals and plans, in educational reform and in various social deformities that go against human nature. You young people are increasingly living in such communities where families are in crisis, where marriages are at times weakened due to infidelity, which results in a source of great suffering for children and for young people. There are real challenges. Let us pause briefly to examine some of the disorders that are visible to the eyes of the world, present in the daily media, and yet are scandalous to the little ones in the faith. By doing so, let us thereby show how capable we are to go against the current, with the help of the gifts of the Spirit, from Wisdom to Fear of God.
One of God's commandments, the sixth in the series, prescribes: You shall not commit adultery: neither in thought, nor in speech or actions. Let us take the case of when a person in a family is unfaithful to their spouse, their lifelong companion, with whom he/she contracted a valid marriage in the Church, and lives or sins with another married or unmarried person, thereby cheating on their legitimate spouse. Regardless of the reasons for their separation and the motives for their new relationship, such persons are not authorized by anyone, least of all by God's commandment, since they are objectively living in a state of grave sin, to receive the Holy Eucharist. We will however, as the Holy Father Pope Francis encourages us, take care of, follow, assist and engage in the Church community such persons, but always respecting Jesus’ law on the indissolubility of a valid marriage and the worthy reception of his Most Holy Body. The ninth commandment of God additionally mentions not to sin by desiring: You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. Impurity and adultery can also begin through desires, because God judges the thoughts of our hearts, not only our speech or external actions.
- Candidates! Be as pure as Christ! Be as pure as Christ, if you want to receive the Eucharist Christ properly!
God's seventh command is: You shall not steal. To steal means to take without authorization some good that belongs to someone else against the rational will of the owner. This involves taking someone’s object, money, goods or land. It is worth mentioning here that one must not even wish to steal, which falls under God's tenth commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods. If you steal as a young man, the reputation of having stolen something will always follow you, as will the reputation of being honest follow the young girl who never stole anything.
- Keep your hands to yourself!
The eighth commandment of God states: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Lying is knowingly telling a falsehood, twisting the objective truth, falsifying actual facts or one's own thoughts. Lying is behaving against one’s beliefs. Lying is saying a falsehood with the intention of deceiving. Lying means to say something against wisdom, to say something against a healthy mind. Jesus calls the devil the “father of lies” (John 8:44). Pope Francis mentions: “A liar knows how to cheat, knows how to deceive people” (Homily in Santa Marta, 10 February 2017). This means that a man is closest to the devil when he is lying and spreading falsehoods.
Calumny is spreading a falsehood against one’s neighbor in order to ruin his/her reputation. For instance, a young girl from the village who is good and morally upright, is slandered by the worst of lies just so that her boyfriend will not take her for his wife. Just imagine what kind of a crime this is!
Malicious gossiping is telling some truth about the other but emphasizing the other's negativities and sins. Are you called to participate in this? And where are you spreading this? But, if for instance, you know that a person is in a civil marriage with someone and wants to marry in the church with another person, you are obliged to notify the parish office of this if the person concerned has been mentioned in the wedding banns. This then is not gossip, but a responsible reply to a wedding notice.
- How to behave towards slander? - Whatever you do, it is better to suffer from slander than to slander others.
What was the relationship of men to Jesus? When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, his people did not receive him or his mother Mary or Joseph, even in private accommodations. The Jewish King Herod wanted to kill him as soon as he heard that he was born. People hurled all sorts of slander against him, some even blasphemous, such as: that he did not obey God's law; that he performed miracles with the help of Beelzebub - the chief of the devils; that he seduced the people; that he was a fraud and glutton. Some estimated that he was not worth more than 30 pieces of silver; that he did not rise from the dead but that the apostles had stolen him, and similar wickedness.
What is the relationship of the world with Jesus' disciples? The disciples of Christ have also been defamed by incredible slander up to the present: through invented deceptions and attacks in the media. The world once said that Christians and their leaders were cannibals, because they meet on Sundays and eat the Eucharist Christ. That they are also fighting against society, not respecting imperial laws, that they are domestic traitors, collaborators of world powers, etc. The liars often defended their lies with even worse slander, because lies cannot be defended by the truth. As soon as you tell the truth, all lies fall apart! And as the slander and lies became worse, the ministers of the Church became all the more genuine and closer to the suffering Christ!
Oh Eucharistic Jesus! Awaken the consciences of all those who behave lightheartedly towards God's commandments and receive You, in your Body, while not respecting the sixth and the ninth commandments!
Help all those who do not observe the seventh or tenth commandments, who want to steal, whether in little or great things, to smarten up!
Eliminate every lie and falsehood, all deception and deceit from our society and our lives!
In particular, we pray to you, oh eternal Truth, to eradicate all the stain of human deceptions, lies and curses from the transgressors of your most holy Mother, here in Medjugorje and throughout the world. We honor Our Lady above all the saints, angels, powers and supremacies. We honor her according to the Sacred Tradition and the living Magisterium of the Church. With our minds we acknowledge, with our hearts we believe and with our tongues we confess her unique religious truths: her Immaculate Conception untouched by the stain of original sin; her permanent and never defiled Virginity; that she is the Mother of God and her Assumption in body and spirit to the glory of heaven. Preserve her honor from all human fabrications. Do not allow this most holy name amongst humankind to be associated with stories that do not correspond to the truth, to incredible appearances, invented secrets, false signs, innumerable pre-programmed apparitions with messages, and to an improper touching of the body of the alleged phenomenon. Let us instead, practice true Marian devotion that leads us to You, in truth and love, and awaken in us the desire to properly obey all of God's commandments and be your witnesses in the world. May we honor Our Lady with true Christian devotion, as the one who has brought your Blessed Body into this world and who has preserved in her Immaculate Heart the testimony that we proclaim today in your Gospel.
And may you, Lord, have mercy on us all!
Oh most Blessed Virgin Mary, we humble pray for your motherly forgiveness for all the abuses of your holy name for selfish material and promotional media purposes! Most wise Virgin, Mirror of Justice, Throne of Wisdom, pray for all of us, especially for these candidates who today receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, so that they may cooperate with them their entire lives. So be it!