The Historical-Theological Context of the Medjugorje Apparitions
Date: November 10, 2005 , Originally published November 10, 2001
Author: Dr. fra Tomislav Pervan, OFM
Category: Theology reports
Content of the article
Instead of a Closing Word
In all of her apparitions Mary shows herself to be a caring Mother. Everyone can understand her because her option is for the little and the poor, God's favourites. She is always full of compassion. She intercedes for the little ones and gives them her own heart and voice. All who are despised and deprived of rights, those on the fringe of life and society find refuge in her. She does not appear in mansions and bishops' palaces, but on hills, in villages, in inaccessible places, and her partners are the little and insignificant, the shepherds.
It is as if she wants by that to say: The duty of evangelising the world, the clergy, the hierarchy, bishops and priests, belongs to the little ones. These are the amazing processes in almost all apparitions. It is known often to happen that also expert theologians and scholars come to visionaries and seek advice from them in the spiritual life. The little and insignificant become evangelisers. Throughout the history of the Church adults were known to reach for weapons as means of evangelisation (let us remember the inglorious pages of the evangelisation of Latin America) while the little become authentic evangelisers by the power of their word, their person, and their life. In this is realized that parable of Jesus about the little ones and children as the paradigm for his kingdom. If the Church today is turning to the poor, if our Franciscan Order has made its priority option for the poor because an immense potential for evangelisation exists among them, then we could freely say that precisely today it is "in" to learn from the little how to be evangelised and how to evangelise, and how to proceed from the centre to the periphery. Mary reveals herself as one who loves, cares about everyone, readily helps and participates in the work of redemption as the merciful Mother. Mary is the place where cries and sighs are heard, where trouble and misery are consoled, where tears are wiped away and pains are healed.
Ordinary people, the Christian laity, are not longer the object of evangelisation, on whom thoughts and ideas are imposed from above, but they become the subject of evangelisation which directly receives inspirations by the power of the Holy Spirit and becomes the carrier of the Good News into the world. Everyone must turn toward the needs of the world, especially of the most little ones, from the top down to the littlest in God's people. Only in that way does evangelisation become authentic. Evangelisation is not in the service of fortifying the hierarchy, but the birthing of new communities of the faithful. That is the effect of the Medjugorje apparitions. Everywhere living communities are being born that live in the spirit of the messages and of Mary's option for the most little, for the poor. Mary's call is directed to everyone and everyone, like Abraham, must begin their way into the unknown, into the unknown and uninvestigated regions of faith, led by God's call to freedom.
The effect of the Medjugorje apparitions is immeasurable. That which the critical mind and philosophy destroyed, what Catholic theology largely neglected, that which pastors in the Church do not dare, the Holy Spirit is trying to do through Mary's apparitions and her messages to the world. Conversion and the revival of the organism of the Church, which has died out in many. Little people understand Our Lady's language and accept it. Amid hopelessness hope is revived, God is with his people. Biblical faith and biblical experiences are again becoming present and alive. Medjugorje is a rereading of the Bible. God proves himself the leader and the liberator, the strength of the future. If a theology of liberation is being proclaimed, then we have experienced it most powerfully in Medjugorje, and at the same time also, the theology of the people of God as the bearer of renewal and the accomplisher of God's plan in history.
God's work of the renewal of the world is carried forward with the help of Mary. Through her apparitions and intercession, peoples are being healed, freedom is being glimpsed and birthed. People are becoming aware of themselves and are resurrecting. Mary becomes a creative symbol for the entire people. In her apparitions, she gives back to places and peoples their authentic dignity. She reveals herself as the custodian of the bequeathed inheritance and the original sign of authentic inculturation of the Gospel in peoples and cultures. She is simultaneously also the manifestation of the maternal face of our God. Where she appears, God's creative work is revealed in history. That is said in the beginning of the gospel of Luke and also in the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles. Where the Spirit descends on Mary, he leaves behind himself a perfectly formed image, in the first case of Jesus Christ, in the second of the Church as the perfect artistic work of our God, as the realized social utopia of which Jesus dreamed, as the space of peace, freedom and love. These are the essential existential truths by which the world lives and which are able to give the world a meaning and a future. In this, again, Medjugorje is an unavoidable road sign to the entire epoch on the threshold of a new millennium.
fra Tomislav Pervan, OFM, 1995Dr. Fr. Tomislav Pervan - born November 8, 1946 in Citluk. Ordained priest 1969. Doctorate 1976 in Theology of the New Testament. Worked as assistant novice master in the Herzegovina Franciscan Province. Served as pastor in the parish of Medjugorje from 1982 - 1988. Named Vicar Provincial in 1990 and in 1994 was elected as Provincial of the Herzegovina Franciscan Province.
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