This morning’s homily at the 10am English Mass was given by Fr Simon from England
Good morning to you, did you enjoy the rain last night….and the thunder? Mother is good isn’t She? Thank God. Mother is good because She calls us here, even to wash us! Did you realise that after all the walking you have been doing, going up the mountain and the hill, some of us have been a little bit sweaty, so Mother decided, now is the time for a bath! So last night She decided, I want to bring my child, my sons, my daughters close and I want to wash them!
My first time here to Medjugorje was when I was only 17 years old-I’m 102 now!! [Joke]. And I first came to Medjugorje because it was it was a free holiday. Yeah! I came looking for sun, sea and sand. Mother has a great sense of humour, what does Medjugorje mean? – between the hills, so there is no sea and no sand. I remember we stayed in one of the old houses in the old village. Are you enjoying where you are staying at the moment? Have you got air-conditioning, toilets in each room, lovely showers, food-brilliant? Well when I came when I was 17 years old in August 1989, we stayed in a house that had been converted from an old shack-an old barn and I was one of the youth that came. There was one sink in the room and on the first day there my friend Marcus, who was from Scarborough, not far from where I live, he began to fill the sink up with water and the sink fell off the wall. Air-conditioning? This is true, he opened the window and the pane of glass fell out! We had one toilet for the whole of the house. When our group leaders, because we were youth, the two ladies -Elsie and Ann gathered us for the Rosary, Elsie was nowhere to be seen. And we sat in this cramped little hall and Ann wanted to show us and teach us the Rosary and being 17, like many of the lads there, we didn’t want to pray, many of us didn’t want to be here. I didn’t want to be here, I was looking for the sea and the sand, yes we got the sunshine, it was very hot, it was August. The trouble was, when we started praying the Rosary, and, our group leader said “Our Lady says here, ‘pray with the heart’”. Pray with the heart? what does She mean? One of the lads, half way through the Rosary got so annoyed that he got up and threw the Rosary on the floor, went back to his room and slammed the door so hard that the toilet door opened up and poor Elsie was sat there! Like a good mother, she smiled at all of us sat [sitting] in the corridor and closed the door. I thought to myself, if this is praying with the heart, then I’m not going to that loo!
Three days in, I honestly thought to myself what on earth am I doing here. Everywhere I looked people had Rosaries in their hands, people were wanting to come to Church, there were queues outside the confessional and I thought to myself at 17, I’m in the wrong place, honestly. So I began to go up one of the Hills. Fr. Slavko was saying ‘look, you have all been called here to be in the school of Mary, the school of prayer’. Fr Slavko would say, go on to the hills and find your place. So I went onto the Hill, looking for a little bit of quiet and trying to make sense of everything that was going on. As I started to go up the Hill, there was a woman, a young lady with a child- a little boy, he was maybe two years old and full of life and full of zest and he was wanting, not to climb the rocks but to run up the rocks. In the Croatian, she kept telling him “Samo malo, samo malo” – just a little. The mother was trying to tell the child just little steps. I began to realise then, my life needed those little steps.
See, little steps, when we put one foot in front of the other, we have to know where we are going in life. Many of us here have been called for conversion. It’s a call each day of continual conversion. To make sure with Mother, we are careful with our little steps. Our Mother reminds us, and She has to put it in ‘ladybird’ language for me to understand.
Today the Gospel reminds me of the seed, the wheat having to die. Our Mother, she comes and She says; Look, Simon, your way of living at 17 is going to lead you away from God. I had the grace of conversion and I changed, so much so that when I went back, Mam and Dad looked at me and said “you are glowing”. It wasn’t the suntan! And they said to me what’s happened? And I said I can’t put into words what has happened; you will have to come and experience it for yourself. So within two months in October, we were blessed that my whole family came out and they then began to live the messages of Our Lady.
I’ve been back to Medjugorje many times now in fact I’d rather come here than look for the sun, the sea and the sand. In fact if I ever went on a beach I would sit there with my trousers on, it was just no longer comfortable for me anymore. Now rather than anything else in the pocket, what do we have in our pockets now? – Rosaries, because we all want to live the call our Mother gives us. And She gives to you and She gives to me and my Brothers here, the call of Prayer, Conversion, Fasting, Penance, Eucharist – those little ways, Samo Malo, just a little. And with those steps, She is changing not only hearts and minds, but changing the direction of your life and mine. She is changing direction of the world. But Her Immaculate Heart can only triumph if you say yes to those little ways, little steps.
Who is here for the first time? Good Luck!! They should put a warning on your flight ticket….first of many! Because you will feel, when you get back home, that there will be no other place where you feel so much at home and you’ll want to come back time and time again. Every time you do come back we are a little bit like an onion, Mother brings us here, she peels back another layer of our life, and just like when you are doing the onions, we cry and we let go.
Mind you, I’ll finish with this, one year when I had become a Priest, this is because of Medjugorje, I remember coming into the airport and there was one suitcase laid open and you could see boxer shorts, t-shirts, trousers, you could see the whole person’s life open, for everyone to see in that suit case. I had a very big smile on my face and I said thank God I have already got my suitcase. The trouble was this woman came up to me and she said Father, you have my suitcase! Everybody knew what colour boxer shorts I was wearing that week. But, perhaps our Mother was saying to me on that particular journey, don’t just open your life, open everything to me, because when we give over to Mother, being a Mother, She knows what is best. If you are striving in difficulties, worries, if you have no peace, you are in the right place. This is that moment for you. Mary is wanting to say to you Samo Malo… Just a little, and in that littleness, She will show you and me, each day that new way of living.