Father Charles Mangano from Long Island, New York gave a homily in Medjugorje about forgiveness and how Our Lady points the way to the Holy Spirit.
“They have eyes to see, but do not see, and ears to hear, but do not hear. Why is that? Scripture says, ‘Today my rebellious house…’ In other words, they have rebellious hearts. A rebellious heart, my brothers and sisters, makes it very difficult for us to see God at work and for us to hear His voice when our hearts are rebellious.
“The question I would like to pose this morning is: ‘Do we have a rebellious heart or a teachable heart? Again, do we have a rebellious heart or a teachable heart?’ I believe that is why Jesus said you must become like little children in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Children are open to become wonderful. They are teachable. They are humble, and they are willing to learn. As adults, sometimes, we embrace the attitude: ‘I know that. I know better. I don’t need the Church telling me what to do. I don’t need the Mother of God telling me what to do. I know what I have to do! I’ll do it my own way.’ Wrong! That is why in Medjugorje, I believe, every apparition begins with, “Dear Children”, implying we are children and we have to learn. We are all young and old in the School of Love. Our Lady says in the school of prayer we learn how to love. We learn how to pray, how to sacrifice ourselves for others. We learn how we can imitate Jesus.
“If you look at the lives of the saints, you see they allowed the Holy Spirit to lead them to love and serve and to forgive. The Gospel today talks about the need for forgiveness, something we all struggle with. But here is a teachable moment by Jesus. You see, forgiveness, my brothers, is not an option for us. As Christians, it is mandatory! Jesus Himself, on the Cross, said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus Himself, in His humanity, forgave. He wins for us, on the Cross, the grace of forgiveness.
“The official book on Catholic teaching, if you take a look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it tells us what the Church teaches about forgiveness. The Catechism says it is not in our power to forget the offense. It is not in our power not to feel. Now, that makes us feel validated in our humanity. It goes on to say: but although it is not in our power to forget an offense, to forgive, a heart that is offered to the Holy Spirit, a heart that is turned over to the Holy Spirit, it’s the Holy Spirit working in me, it turns the injury into compassion. The Holy Spirit purifies the memory. The Holy Spirit moves me toward intercession for the very person who has wounded me. In other words, I find myself being led to pray for my persecutors, for my enemies. That can only be the work of God! Amen!
“Because we struggle with forgiveness, don’t we? Unforgiveness, resentment, anger are all spiritual death for us. It is spiritual death. A spiritual writer once wrote, ‘ It is like spiritual constipation.’ The flow of grace stops! Forgiveness is also linked to our physical and emotional health. How can anyone expect a physical healing if there is spiritual corruption in them? There is a direct connection between my mind, my body, and my soul. Amen!
“So, how do I offer my heart to the Holy Spirit? In Medjugorje, Our Lady gives the recipe. She gives us the ingredients to make this happen. First, She talks about Confession. She talks about how it humbles us to go to Confession. We come before our Father like a child: ‘Daddy, I need you. Daddy, I can’t hold it all together. Daddy, help me! Abba Father, forgive me.’
“Confession is essential, that is why Our Lady is stressing it here in Medjugorje. We need to be able to bare our souls in the Sacrament to be able to forgive ourselves, to forgive others. St. Padre Pio said Confession unbinds the soul from the clutches of the evil one. He knew what he was talking about, because he was in the confessional 12- 14 hours a day.
“Our Lady talks about going to Mass and the importance of receiving the Blessed Sacrament, and the grace that comes from the Sacrament to free our souls from self-righteousness. She talks about praying with the heart, praying the Rosary, giving to God our daily prayers. Praying not out of obligation, but because we love Him. Our Lady talks about fasting on bread and water and dying to self. She talks about reading Scripture everyday, the Living Word. All of this is to help us in the area of forgiveness and to make this Gospel a living reality in our lives. Amen! My brothers, God will give us the power to love. He gives us the power to love.
“Yesterday, Marija the visionary said so beautifully, ‘The one who loves; prays and the one who prays; forgives.’ Prayer and forgiveness go hand in hand. We will never be able to forgive unless we take time with the Lord in prayer. All of this makes God’s work come to life. It’s God’s work in us. When we say we will never be able to forgive that person, we are 100% correct, but He can do it; God in me, through me, with me and for me. Amen!
“So the question is, do we have a teachable spirit or a rebellious spirit? I’m not going to fast twice a week. What is the Blessed Mother talking about anyway? I’m too old or I’m too young, that doesn’t apply to me anyway. I’m not going to monthly Confession, I’m not that bad. Are we going to do it our own way or God’s way? What is your decision? What will you do?”
Father Charles ended his homily asking everyone to close their eyes and spend a moment in the presence of God, and to ask God to open our hearts. Our Lady’s messages make it increasingly clear that the time has come for Christians to make a decision to follow God and live true before Him. To help you further in your spiritual walk download the following booklets by A Friend of Medjugorje. Send this to all your family and friends and encourage them to begin today to change their lives.