(Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Zechariah 9:9-10; Romans
8:9-13; Matthew 11:25-30)
thanks his Father for revealing “these things” to “the little ones,” rather
than to “the wise and the learned.” He does not say what specific things he has
in mind. The thought is more general: the Father has shown his preference for
the humble and lowly. Mary’s Magnificat
acknowledges the same reality.
no wonder, then, that in most of her Apparitions, Our Lady has chosen “little
ones” as her witnesses. La Salette is no exception. It is hard to imagine more
lowly persons than Maximin Giraud and Mélanie Calvat. Even after they were
given an education, they did not rise above the level of most of their peers
with a similar education.
were rumors to the contrary. A letter dated February 19, 1845—five months after
the Apparition—and sent to the pastor of Corps, included an account of the
Apparition which, among other errors, included the following statement about the
children: “They had been fearful before, but became suddenly daring; they hade
been country bumpkins and now they have become intellectual and
true that they amazed people with their answers to tricky questions, and their
resistance to the pressures put on them to deny what they had seen and heard.
But they did so in great simplicity. They remained “little
describes himself as “meek,” and we find the same adjective used of the king who
is to come, in the first reading. Jesus also tells us to learn from him. In
another place he tells us to become like little
quality of meekness certainly suits those whom St. Paul describes as being “in
the Spirit.” Those in whom “the Spirit of God dwells” can never be arrogant,
thinking themselves superior to others.
said that Maximin in his adult years was asked to tell the story of the
Beautiful Lady once again. He did so, and concluded with these words: “Then she
disappeared, and left me here, with all my faults.”
splendid example of the meekness of which Jesus speaks: recognizing both God’s
grace and our unworthiness. We can all be “little ones” in that
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(Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: 2 Kings 4:8-16; Romans 6:3-11;
Matthew 10: 37-42)
notice how many times St. Paul refers to death in our second reading? I count
about ten. He also mentions sin, twice. His point, however, is to talk about
life, which he also mentions explicitly several times.
these elements come together in the last sentence: “You too must think
of yourselves as dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.“
context is baptism, in which we died with Christ so as to live with him. Death
no longer has dominion over him or us, and neither does
presumes that we are faithful to our baptismal commitments. Christians baptized
as infants will be expected at some point to ratify for themselves the
profession of faith made on their behalf.
experience teaches that this fidelity cannot be presumed, that this ratification
is by no means guaranteed. Thus the dominion of death and of sin comes to be
was the situation that caused Mary to come to La Salette. She spoke some
challenging words, but not so challenging as those we find in today’s Gospel.
Jesus demands our absolute and total loyalty. We have to take up our cross. That
is the cost of discipleship.
ought not to surprise us that many people are unwilling to accept these
demands—today, as in 1846 and in the ancient Greek and Roman and Asian world
where the Gospel was first preached.
Salette, Our Lady shows regret at the situation into which her people have
fallen, materially and spiritually; she cannot bear to see the dominion of sin
and death in their lives. She weeps because they have lost respect for her Son
and the things of God. Their baptism no longer means anything to
shows determination as well. She will not simply stand by and let them reap the
consequences of their sins.
breast she shows us Christ crucified, to remind us that he who died for our sins
did so in order that we might truly live. The cost of discipleship cannot
compare to the price Jesus paid to save us.
dominion will we choose: Christ’s or death’s?
Sadness and Joy
(Seventh Sunday of Easter: Acts 1:12-14; 1 Peter 4:13-16; John 17:1-11. NOTE: The Ascension readings are different.)
Jesus’ last extended discourse in John’s Gospel ends with a long prayer, which includes these words: "I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.”
Over time, alas! the situation deteriorated. Some scholars claim that when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the fourth century, it lost its fervor. Many became Christians because there was now a material advantage in doing so—like being a card-carrying member of the Party in Communist countries.
Be that as it may, Christianity in France in 1846 had certainly lost its fervor. A Beautiful Lady appeared on a mountain in hopes of restoring it. She used the words, “my people,” reminiscent of Jesus’ words, “those whom you gave me.” She, too, prayed for them, as she said, “without ceasing.”
In those days there was little material advantage in being a Christian. Observing the Day of Rest, for example, seemed counter-productive in a world where there was much poverty, complicated by the prospect of famine. There certainly was none of the rejoicing “to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ,” recommended by St. Peter.
We can wring our hands and bemoan the state of religion in today’s world, but that is not helpful. We can join Mary in praying “without ceasing” for a discovery of faith, or a return to faith, or a deepening of faith.
The list of names in the Acts of the Apostles gives us hope, especially as Mary was among those gathered in prayer. There is a very long unwritten list of those who have been and continue to be faithful disciples. Our Lady came to La Salette to draw others back to discipleship.
In a recent homily, Pope Francis said: “Whenever Mary puts Jesus in the midst of his people, they encounter joy.”
Mary appeared in tears in that isolated spot in the Alps. But she retains her title, “Cause of our Joy.” And think of herjoy when her people welcome her Son back in their midst!
(Pentecost: Acts 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3-13; John 20:19-23)
Jesus had told his disciples to “stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) This is why they were “all in one place together,” but they cannot have known what to expect. Then, suddenly, many things happened all at once—wind! fire! the ability to speak in new tongues!
We speak of the “gift” of tongues. It is not so much a gift to the person who receives it, but it is “for some benefit” to the Church. In theology, this kind of gift is called a charism.
Apparitions and miracles are referred to as “charismatic events,” because they are a gift to believers. They serve to reinforce our faith, or increase our devotion and commitment, and thus they benefit the whole Church.
The charism of La Salette was carefully studied in the 1970’s, and came to be identified with Reconciliation. This gift is not unique to La Salette, but is given through La Salette in a unique way.
Today’s Gospel provides an excellent illustration. Jesus breathes on the disciples and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
At La Salette Shrines and in La Salette ministry generally, people are reminded of the importance and the value of the gift that is the Sacrament of Penance, as well as the gift of mutual forgiveness and reconciliation with our neighbor. Reconciliation is thus a focal point.
But Reconciliation is not unique to La Salette. The Missionaries of the Precious Blood, for example, see it as their charism also, but it doesn’t “belong” to them either. It belongs to the Church, which received it when Jesus reconciled the world to the Father, “making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:20).
The uniqueness comes from the different perspective, the prism through which the charism is received and reflected. This, too, is a gift of the Spirit.
In our case the gift and charism of Reconciliation is filtered through the event, the message and the Beautiful Lady of La Salette.