Stimulations to Daily Reading of Scripture
Date: November 16, 2005 , Originally published November 10, 2001
Author: Kurt Knotziger
Category: Theology reports
Content of the article
Thoughts about the Messages Regarding Specific Scriptural Texts
The messages of Medjugorje are a pressing call for us to live the Gospel. This has already been shown in the call to conversion, both the starting-point of the Gospel as well as Our Lady's messages. Here are a few more important testimonies when the Good News is compared with the messages of Medjugorje.
"...the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary." (Luke 18:1)
The surprising fact that Our Lady is appearing in Medjugorje for such a long time explains itself with the following advice: "I desire to teach you how to pray." (June 12, 1986) The goal of this instruction is perpetual prayer, and we are repeatedly led to it. Perpetual prayer becomes reality when someone in everything he thinks, speaks and does never again leaves God out of his view, and is at all times lovingly aware of His presence. Such a steady devotion to God in no way blocks the good fulfillment of life's assignments. On the contrary! Whoever always has God in front of him, also always remains aware in all his doing and allowing of his responsibility toward Him. He never loses hope in God's company and support because he knows that God is also here for him. This 'being in perpetual prayer' does, however, demand specific times of prayer in which one repeatedly turns to Him exclusively and with all one's being. "I beseech you, dear children, come to prayer with awareness." (November 28, 1985) and "You, dear children, are not able to understand how great the value if prayer is as long as you yourselves do not say: 'Now is the time for prayer! Now nothing else is important to me, now no-one but God is important to me.'" (October 2, 1986), are the ways that Our lady invites us to prayer. In a particular sense, a regular schedule of prayer is also perpetual prayer in that it is repeatedly picked up upon and, in such a way, never ends. In this sense also Our Lady calls upon us to begin the day with prayer and to end it with prayer. Certainly such a habit will lead, if it is real prayer and a prayer of the heart, to prayer taking the first place in our lives. Our Lady invites not only each individual to do this, but also families. She wishes to lead us toward our day being "only prayer and a complete surrender to God." (September 4, 1986) Prayer is mentioned in the Thursday as well as monthly messages more than any other subject. As a dedication in a book, Marija once wrote that Our Lady wishes for us to pray every day, and she then added: "Through pryer you can achieve everything, including that which you consider to be impossible." This is the same as Jesus said: "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you may and it will be done for you." (John 15:7) Our Lady began her instruction in prayer to the visionaries in proposing certain prayers, as did Jesus respond to the disciples request that He teach them to pray by reciting to them the Our Father. (Luke 11:2) The strongest request of Our Lady, when it comes to prayer, is to pray with the heart. "Dear Children, Today I call you to prayer with the heart..." (May 2, 1985) When asked, the visionaries emphasize how decisive it is to pray with the heart. On this subject Marija said: "Our Lady leads us to pray with the heart. The heart must be present with what the words say." and at another opportunity: "Everything that worries one, one must present and recommend trustingly to become free of it, so that one can pray with an unburdened heart." Under the direction of Our Lady, the visionaries learned anew what is already written in the letter to the Philippians. "Have no anxiety at all but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to the Lord." (Phil 4:6) The prayer of the heart does not merely show supernatural results, but it also takes beneficial effect in the natural realm. It assists in overcoming exhaustion and gives one joy and rest. The loving 'giving of the heart' -- meaning the entire human personality -- is what is decisive in prayer, no matter whether it is in the efforts of beginning or in the goal of perpetual prayer. "To pray with the heart, that is what is most important." (Marija) and "that is true prayer." (Ivan) These are the testimonies of two young people who Mary directed toward real prayer.
"...can only be expelled through prayer and fasting." (Matt 17:21)
As Jesus with three of His Apostles was on the mountain of the Transfiguration, the other disciples, in meeting a possessed man, experienced the incredible strength of the evil one. Only once Jesus had returned and threatened the demon did he let go of this regrettable man. Jesus taught the astonished disciples that such a thing can only be achieved through prayer and fasting. (Matt 17:14-21) When the significance of visions and their conveyed messages is not to be found in their supplying us with anything new, still now and again forgotten truths can in a renewed manner be brought back to our memories. Was the fact that fasting is the most powerful weapon against evil not nearly forgotten in Christianity? Jesus dedicates a lengthy explanation to fasting on the Sermon of the Mount. (Matt 6:16-18) He Himself fasted (Matt 4:2) and justifies fasting at the suitable time. (Matt 9:15) The call to fasting has found its place in the message of Medjugorje from the very beginning. The visionaries passed along this call soon after the beginning of the apparitions, and in the Thursday messages it is mentioned repeatedly. There Our Lady addresses our inner most readiness to do so, and again "...with the heart" is also called for with fasting. (September 20, 1984) She motivates us with the pointer that our fasting is a contribution in overcoming evil and also gives us an amount -- quite noticeable, yet for the healthy person also quite manageable -- of twice a week. The call to fasting in the message of Medjugorje is an invitation, not a commandment. It is the invitation of a loving mother toward her children to whom she entrusts great things, but in whom herself, afterall, it also concerns great things. Already in the year 1982 all six visionaries conveyed the message that through prayer and fasting even wars could be averted. For this reason already under the old Covenant the prophets in times of crisis called for prayer and fasting. We honor Mary as the Queen of Prophets and her invitation comes during a time that is defined by catastrophes and dangers. We must be grateful that through her we are made aware of comparisons that we by ourselves would never have recognized. It is also important that the call to fasting is always combined with the call to prayer. First prayer, in being concentrated upon God, gives fasting its value and its effect. Willing fasting takes effect in many varied and beneficial ways. It frees us from being dependent and being bound, and thereby makes us free for what God wishes to give us. Also many cases of brotherly love first only become possible due to renunciation. Whoever fasts thereby contributes to peace, to healing and to the victory of goodness.
"Blessed are the peace makers." (Matt 5:9)
Our Lady's first call in Medjugorje was the call to peace, and that peace must come between God and man and between men. God offers it to us, yet we must cooperate with it. On the Fifth Anniversary of the initial call to peace, it was again clearly spoken. "Dear Children! God is allowing me, along with Himself, to bring about this oasis of peace. I wish to call you to protect it and that the oasis may always be unspoiled. There are those who by their negligence are destroying the peace and the prayer. I am inviting you to give witness and by your life to help to preserve the peace." (June 26, 1986) Already at the beginning Our Lady described herself to the visionaries as the Queen of Peace. From Sacred Scripture we already know that peace is finally a gift of God to man, and that the Lord blesses His people with peace. (Ps 29:11) He gives it (Is 26:3), and from Him it comes (Rev 1:4). Therefore Paul in his letters repeatedly asks God for peace in the communities. (Rom 1:7) It remains our assignment to ask God for peace, but also to contribute to it. "Dear Children! By your own peace I am calling you to help others to see and begin to seek peace. You, dear children, are at peace and not able to comprehend non-peace. Therefore, I am calling you, so that by your prayer and your life you help to destroy everything that is evil in people and uncover the deception of which Satan makes use. Pray that the truth prevails in all hearts." (September 25, 1986) Our Lady calls upon us in this manner and then emphasizes that our contribution for peace must first consist of our own peace in life, and that evil has its roots in lack of peace -- this meaning that it rises from misled hearts and, due to these wrong paths, has its source in Satan. The visionaries repeatedly tell us that we are called upon "to make peace", and that there are therefore steps that serve peace. These are expected from us in order to help us overcome evil. There are indispensable values that we may never relinquish and here self-love and being right are certainy not among them. Here it concerns overcoming oneself. Jesus, through His sacrifice on the Cross, made peace possible and "conquered the enemy in person." (compare Eph 2:14) Jesus, the crucified one is here shown to us as the source and the cause of peace. In this way the cross becomes the sign of reconciliation for us. Often 'making peace' expects us to carry the cross. For this reason certainly Our Lady tells us: "Dear children, pray before the cross for peace" This will help us to overcome our helplessness toward all that is a hindrance to peace." (September 6, 1984)
"Be thankful!" (Col 3:15)
Nearly in every message of Medjugorje Our Lady thanks those who obey her call. Sometimes she also thanks specifically for other things, such as for the readiness to consecrate oneself to her, for prayers, for efforts, for sacrifices or for turning the messages into one's life. She thanks all who do something for her. "I wish to thank you for every response to the messages." (January 8, 1987) How much this always newly expressed thanks includes, will become ever more recognized depending on how clearly someone will recognize this "thank you" as being a personal one.
Once a young person, impressed with uninterrupted stream of pilgrims that she is exposed to, asked the visionary Marija Pavlovic how she could even withstand such a burden. Marija responded: "If you only knew what it is like to be thanked by Our Lady!"
However, Our Lady does not merely thank us, she also gives thanks to God because He is permitting her to come to us. Our Lady's behavior reminds us that we too have all reasons to be thankful. Due to their similar word root, 'thanking' has something to do with 'thinking'. Whoever thinks has already recognized that he has been gifted. The Apostle Paul reprimands us with his rhetorical question referring to the love of God, that within itself gives everything. "What do you possess that you have not received?" (1 Cor 4:7) In the messages of Medjugorje we are reminded clearly of our need to give thanks. Merely an outer expression of thanks is not meant here, because were we satisfied with that, then it would mean the end of gratitude! Our Lady says that our life should become a joyful expression of gratitude that flows like a stream from all hearts. For all graces received as well as for the smallest of all things, we should give thanks so that we can become capable of thanking for the great things. (see September 25, 1989,
August 25, 1995 and October 25, 1995)
Only too easily is one ungrateful toward given graces. This the evangelist Luke brings before our eyes in his report about the ten lepers who on the road to Jerusalem they came to Jesus and asked Him to heal them. Jesus said: "Go, and show yourselves to the Priests.", and as they went to the Priests they became clean. But one of them as he saw that he was healed then turned around and praised God out loud. He threw himself on the ground in front of Jesus' feet and thanked Him. Here Jesus said: "Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God...?" (see Luke 17:11)
Among us it should be different. Our Lady calls upon us to thank incessantly. External signs or words of gratitude are good, yet fasting and other good deeds are also appropriate for this. Decisive in this is our loving behavior and our esteem toward the One who is doing the giving.
"Rejoice in the Lord." (Phil 4:4)
Christianity is the religion of joy. The Christian directs his life according to the Good News that Jesus brought us. Of the goal to which He wishes to lead us, He says: "...and then your hearts will rejoice, and no-one will take your joy away from you." (John 16:22) and the Apostle also calls us when to the Philippians he calls out: "Rejoice in the Lord always! Again, I say to you: Rejoice! (Phil 4:4)
Our Lady repeatedly reminds us in her messages that we have reason to be joyful in all things and especially so on August 25, 1988: "Dear Children! Today I invite you all to rejoice in the life that God gives you. Little Children, rejoice in God the Creator because He has created you so wonderfully. Pray that your life be a joyful thanksgiving..." But Mary also knows that our joy in is danger. "Satan wants to work still more fiercely at taking away the joy from each one of you. By prayer you can completely disarm him and ensure your happiness." (January 24, 1985) And she promises: "In prayer you shall perceive the greatest joy..." (March 28, 1985) The one who entered into the never to be lost joy of God, invites us: "Rejoice with me!" (April 18, 1985)
"Where the Spirit of God the Lord is, there is freedom." (2 Cor 3:17)
We can only speak about freedom in inaccessible, human ways. The cooperation between God's Almightiness and human freedom will always remain an impenetrable secret. Because no-one can be forced to loving devotion, the freedom that God gives us is the supposition that we answer His love with our love. Freedom, however, also includes the risk of refusal. During an address on his pastoral visit to Vienna, Pope John-Paul II concluded that "the history of mankind is the history of abused freedom."
The message of Medjugorje urges us to stop with this abuse, and beyond this it tells us that God needs us for His plan of Salvation. "Without you God cannot bring to reality that which He desires. God a free will to everyone, and it is in your control." (January 30, 1986) So God, as it were, gave away a piece of free will which He no longer has at His disposal. Our Lady's call in Medjugorje emphasizes this freedom: "I am with you, but I cannot take away your freedom." (August 7, 1986) We must act "as the free, but not as those who take freedom as a cover for Satan, but rather as servants of God." (1 Peter 2:16)
"Do this in memory of me!" (Luke 22:19 & 1 Cor 11:24-25)
When one asks the visionaries which prayer Our Lady advises them about the most, they unanimously advise the celebration of Holy Mass. The Council reminded us that the act of our Salvation is performed in it and that it is the height and the source of strength in our life of faith. Through its rites it includes in it everything on which our living Christianity is founded -- turning away from sin, listening to God, speaking to Him, our devotion toward Him, adoration and our having been sent. At the celebration of Holy Mass we encounter Christ in His Gospel and in the Bread of Life. This meeting makes us able to meet others every day in a just way, for a fruit of Holy Mass is afterall also peace. One message combines all this: "Let Holy Mass be your life." (April 25, 1988)
Medjugorje teaches us to take time for Holy Mass and this includes preparation before it, as well as reflection after it. Because they are no longer able to truly concelebrate Mass, many have even stopped using a Missal. Then they say: "Mass gives me nothing." Through Medjugorje many have again come to understand it. Holy Mass is a time given to us during which Jesus gives us graces. Therefore we should love to come to Mass, accept it with love and to partake in it more actively. To a pilgrim's objection that he had no time for Holy Mass, Marija once responded that it depends upon what values one organizes ones day.
Here a message that invites us to Holy Mass: "Today I invite you to fall in love with the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Adore Him, little children, in your Parishes and in this way you will be united with the entire world. Jesus will become your friend..." (September 25, 1995)
"Whose sins you forgive, are forgiven them!" (John 20:23)
Peace begins in one's heart, and this means when one is at peace with God. To be able to experience this peace, Christ gave us the Sacrament of Reconciliation, holy Confession. Wherever this Sacrament is dispensed and received, there Christ repeatedly returns to a person and then what is said repeatedly in the Gospel comes about. Jesus' words go into action: "Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace." (Luke 7:48-50) and "Go, and from now do not sin anymore!" (John 8:11)
The Priests who have heard Confessions in Medjugorje know how often these words are the expression of a truly executed conversion. It is valuable to retain the peace gained therein. Regular Confession assists us in holding on to and then living this conversion. Our Lady requests the Sacrament of Penance on a monthly basis. (August 6, 1982) The great number of Confessions in Medjugorje apply to both the conversion of those who had lost their state of grace, and to the help for those who wish to gain in the good that is promised them in Sacred Scripture: "Grow in grace..." (2 Peter 3:18)
"Put on the new self, created in God's way in righteousness and holiness of the truth." (Eph 4:24)
Being a Christian is a call to holiness, a call to being in a living union with God. Therefore Paul in his letters speaks to the Christians as belonging to Jesus Christ (Rom 1:7, 1 Cor 1:2) and gives them the constant assignment before all else to strive for holiness. (1 Thes 4:3, 2 Cor 7:1) The call to holiness is also a central theme of the messages of Medjugorje. It is, "without exception", meant for all! (September 25, 1988) Mary's request of us to "take up the way of holiness" (July 25, 1987) is based on her love for us. She wishes for us to be holy, she wishes to clothe us in holiness and to lead us on the path to holiness. This too is a reason for the length of her presence in Medjugorje. She calls her messages the "seed of holiness" (October 10, 1985) and expresses in this manner that, despite all our endeavors, God's acts are what is decisive. So Mary calls us to pray for the gift of holiness and she expresses her joy about all those who are on the path to holiness. (compare July 24, 1986)
Where "holiness" is exclusively united with the 'elevation to the honor of the altars', the call to holiness must stay unintelligible. As Sacred Scripture does, so does Our Lady mean "holiness" as every union that we while living can have with God. This was founded in our Baptism and throughout life we should, with God's help, unfold it more and more until it finally finds its completion in Heaven.
"Behold your mother!" (John 19:27)
The length of Our Lady's presence in Medjugorje is surprising. Her stay itself is also a message for us. From it we experience her motherly proximity to us and we also discover that we are, during our difficult times, not left alone by Heaven. She says: "Dear Children! Today I am calling you to reflect upon why I am with you this long. I am Mediatrix between you and God. Therefore, dear children, I desire to call you to live always out of love all that which God desires of you. For that reason, dear children, in your own humility live all the messages which I am giving you." (July 17, 1986)
Through Mary, the Son of God wished to enter into our world and through Mary we are held to do what he tells us! (compare John 2:5) This is Mary's permanent mission and assignment. Theologians have diverted Mary's teaching as being the model for the Church. The Church too should bring Jesus close to the people and teach them to fulfill His word. Thereby every person in the Church has an assignment to find Jesus -- for himself to live according to His word and then to lead others to Him. And here Medjugorje, through Mary, gives us new hope when she says: "I am your mother and I invite you to come closer to God through prayer, because only He is your peace, your Savior." (September 25, 1993) Once a Priest from Medjugorje summarized Mary's meaning for us, as taken from the experiences of young visionaries, by saying that they experience Our Lady as mother who wishes to embrace the whole world.
"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily." (Luke 9:23)
The succession to which Jesus calls us entails both a path and a goal. Both are spoken at the end of 'Angel of the Lord': Through suffering and the Cross, reach holiness. Through this the final purpose of human suffering is answered. A logic that is oriented merely on this side of things cannot satisfactorily answer to the tension of unfulfilled yearning for happiness. The Gospel directs us over and beyond the horizons that are set upon our experiences and our understanding. Every cross that is carried in solidarity with Christ and surrendered to God is in cooperation with the saving power of Christ's Cross. This is why Paul writes: "...to know Him and the power of the Resurrection and the sharing of His suffering." (Phil 3:10)
The Mother of God does not come to Medjugorje to remove the cross. She is a realistic mother who does not convey illusions to her children. She knows of the need for the cross and for suffering, and invites that one accepts the cross of life with love. Jesus carries the Cross out of love for us, while we, out of love, should follow Him with our cross. On Good Friday, April 5, 1985, Our Lady said: "You parishioners have a great and heavy cross to carry, but do not be afraid to carry it. My Son is here who will help you." Mary invites us to pray as often as possible before the cross, to reflect there upon Jesus' suffering and then promises that great graces come from there. In whatever distress, the cross in this way will become a joy; of course, not to be understood as a mood or a feeling but rather as a deeply experienced Creed.
At the end of these thoughts I wish to direct some attention toward those people who so full of readiness to help stand by the sick. These are not only the Doctors and Nurses, but they are all those who are simply there when they are needed. Sacred Scripture reports to us that Mary rushed over the mountains to Elizabeth when she was advised by the angel that her aging aunt, just as she, was expecting a child. Mary knew that her young arms and her care were needed. "And she went on her way and rushed" there where Elizabeth was at home. From the report we can feel that her joy in being able to help gave wings to her steps. We can all develop into being those who are joyfully ready to help -- the healthy who, when they themselves are sick, get to work if they, in union with Christ, carry their suffering and offer it up. Then also their own suffering becomes a saving and blessing strength. As she herself says in a message, especially those who are carrying crosses may know that they are in touch with Our Lady: "I am with you and your suffering is also mine. Thank you for having responded to my call." (April 25, 1992)
Kurt Knotziger, 1996
Kurt Knotzinger - was born in 1928 in Vienna. After completing twelve years of studies in the field of Music and Theology, he began his work as Parish Priest. However, from 1966 onwards he took over as Spiritual Director and Professor in the seminary as well as the high school of the town of Sachsenbrun in the Viennese archdiocese.
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