Sunday, 16 June 2019

Medjugorje, Trinity Sunday, Year C

Rom 5:1-5
I’ve just come back from Medjugorje, where I was with some of our parishioners on pilgrimage.
It was a wonderful experience. I first went there when was 20 years old, and was first convinced of the authenticity of the visions by the abundant signs of God’s grace being out poured on people, on people CHANGING and converting their lives -it seems to me that God can choose where He pours His graces, and I don’t think He’d pour them so abundantly on the site of a forgery, so I think its genuine.
This summer Pope Francis formally approved Medjugorje as a shrine for official public pilgrimages.
As yet, however, a verdict hasn’t been passed on the visions themselves, or alleged visions -I imagine such a verdict will only be passed when the visions cease, when the event is complete, or claims to be complete. So, any words that follow are conditional on the future judgment of the church on their authenticity.

That’s said, I’d like to refer to how, according to the alleged visionaries, Our Lady speaks of unbelievers. She refers to unbelievers as “those who have not experienced the love of God”.
She speaks also of her own love for us, and says, “If you knew how much I loved you, you’d cry of joy”.
And, to EXPERIENCE this love is transforming, all-absorbing.
One of the visionaries, Mirjana, speaks of the experience of having her visions, how when she’s with Our Lady her only desire is to be with her, and even her beloved family almost “do not exist” -so all satisfying and all-absorbing is this experience of heavenly love (c.f. Mirjana Soldo, My Heart will Triumph, p.271).
If WE experienced God’s love fully, we would likewise be totally enthralled, entranced, satisfied.
“God is love”(1 Jn 4:8), so teaches the Bible, and to experience God is to experience love.

There is a particular relevance to this today, i.e. on Trinity Sunday.
The Trinity is not some irrelevant doctrine, rather, it teaches us about God, and it teaches us about ourselves.
“God is love”(1 Jn 4:8), so teaches the Bible. He is three persons in an eternity of love, loving each other, outpouring that love into each other.
The unique teaching of the Christian religion is that God isn’t just an “entity”, or force, or energy, rather, He is PERSONAL and loving
-and the doctrine of the three PERSONS of the Trinity is the heart of our understanding that God is personal, that God is loving
You and I are made in His image, you and I are (a) made to love and (b) made to experience love.
Thus, Our Lady refers to unbelievers as those who have not experienced God’s love.
And, thus our second reading, chosen for Trinity Sunday, spoke of “the love of God [being] poured into our hearts”(Rom 5:5) by our experience of the Triune God.

But HOW do we experience the love of God?
In many ways:
(1)By being loved by others -thus those how have not experienced human love can often struggle to understand that God loves them.
(2)Also, by seeing the evidence of His care and providence in the world -seeing that the world is good shows us that God is loving.
(3)More particularly, by reading of His loving work in the Bible -with this often comes the experience of recognising that we are sinners and realising what God has done in forgiving us.
But, in all these ways, and others, I think that ultimately to experience that God loves you is a GRACE, a supernatural gift, a mystical experience of some form.
-for some people, that experience comes dramatically, in precise moments,
-for some others, it’s a cumulative experience.
But, I think that for all of us, in as much as we have experienced it, we have experienced something of God HIMSELF -He who IS love.

To be a believer, a believer in Christ, a believer in the Triune God, is to “experience the love of God”.
In as much as our faith is weak, in as much as we have failed to experience that love, let us pray this day that we might ever more have “the love of God… poured into our hearts”(Rom 5:5).

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