''DO WHATEVER HE TELLS YOU''
2018 will be perhaps an opportunity for us to return to the roots of these events, to Mary and to Bernadette. The hubbub we experience in our own hectic lives, in our anxieties and in our concerns, blocks out the words of eternal love that passed in the silent encounter between these two young women. It will be good for us to rediscover Bernadette, the first witness of Lourdes, in whom we recognise the face of Mary and the Paschal candle illuminated with the light of the Holy Spirit. After the focus, in 2017, on the Virgin of the Magnificat, we return this year to the young Bernadette. “Have you seen this child?” Mgr. Laurence asked members of the Commission during the investigation into the authenticity of the events at Lourdes. Look at Bernadette and listen to her, welcome the light that shines from the dark recess of the rock, and embrace the silence that enables us to hear the Word of God.
2018 is a significant date for Lourdes and for the Church as a whole. In October, the Synod of Bishops will convene on the theme - Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment. We are all on the path with the young people towards World Youth Day 2019 in Panama. Pope Francis has outlined a Marian path in preparation for the next World Youth Day:
the Father. The Mighty One has done great things for me.
With the Virgin Mary, the Church directs our attention and our prayers towards the world of young people. In Lourdes, Mary, “as young and as small as myself”, as Bernadette said, did not proclaim from on high, but appeared from the depths of the earth. She became Bernadette’s catechist, and it was for this reason that Bernadette returned to Lourdes from Bartrès in January 1858. Mary’s method
At Cana, Mary is attentive to the needs of men; she is in reality listening to God’s plan, who wishes to be reunited, through Jesus, with a humanity in decline. Mary knows that, without God, this world lacks foundation or meaning. She knows that this world is the fruit of love and that it needs to live in love to survive. Mary knows that this world, through mankind, must draw its life from the Covenant with its Creator; Mary is listening, she is always available. She is able to say, “May it be done to me according to your word”, and to say to the servants at the wedding feast: Do whatever He tells you!
On 25th March, at the Grotto, Mary finally reveals her name, “I am the Immaculate Conception”. I am the one who offers no resistance to the will of God. I have allowed his Word to penetrate me and become flesh in me. “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your Word.” Bernadette, in turn,becomes Mary’s representative, the torch bearer. She is sent to the priests to tell them to build a Chapel, a place where the bread of the Word and the bread of Life will be offered. You are also invited to respond, ‘Here I am, send me!’
The Pope speaks to the young in light of the upcoming Synod: I am reminded of the words which God spoke to Abraham, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s house to the land I will show you”(Gn 12:1). These same words are also addressed to you today. These are the words of a Father who is inviting you to ‘go’, to set out towards a future which is unknown , but one which will surely lead to fulfilment, a future , towards which He himself will accompany you. I invite you to listen to the voice of God resounding in your hearts through the breath of the Holy Spirit.
I entrust you to Mary of Nazareth, a young person like yourselves whom God beheld lovingly so that she may take your hand and guide you to the joy of fully and generously responding to God’s call with the words, "Here I am!"
The Pope speaks to each of us, not only to the young and the children; he speaks to Catechists, Chaplains and teachers, to those responsible for passing on the Good News, to those who do not wish it to be just empty rhetoric, but the Word made flesh. Perhaps particular responsibility rests with those journalists who influence the content of social media platforms visited by the young; can they provide content that gives proper nourishment for the road of life?
How do I answer the constant call of the Pope to move on, to go? He reiterates to us the call that God made to Abraham, the call God makes to His people in Egypt to flee from slavery and set out for a new land. Mary makes the same request of Bernadette, “Would you do me the favour of coming? What is God’s promise for me today? To what other world is He calling me?
There are many empty jars to fill, many layers of mud to scrape away, many hearts of stone to convert into hearts of flesh. What choices are available to me? What path should I follow in my life and working environment, my Church, and the world in which I live?
What is the Word that I need to get across, what mission is assigned to me, to ‘the Priests’, to those in charge, to those who are responsible today for guiding their brothers and their fellow citizens? How can I help to proclaim the Gospel and to build the ‘chapel’, the Church? What is my place among the poor, the young , those who suffer, the Bernadette’s of today, who are entrusted with the Good News of Jesus?