Here’s a transcript of Archbishop Hoser’s homily at St. James Parish in Medjugorje:
(Translated by the Parish from French to English)
Dear Brothers and Sister! I will speak in French. Excuse me, I haven’t yet learned the beautiful Croatian language. We have gathered around the altar on the 5th week of Lent. There are two more weeks dividing us from Easter. In one week it is already Palm Sunday. And in two weeks we are going to celebrate at the end of Holy Week the greatest Christian feast day, the Feast of the Resurrection.
The Word of God that we have heard today, speaks of resurrection. And shows us three perspectives of resurrection, three views. The first one is historic. We know that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man lived on this planet in the Holy Land of Palestine. We also know that it was announced by prophets that He was going to be born. Just like the Prophet Ezekiel who we heard today. He brings the words of God who is telling us “I am going to open your graves, and I will lift you up, and he repeats, I will raise you up from your graves. That is a prophecy. He already sees the arrival of the Messiah. We know that Jesus died and rose from the dead. That is the foundation of our faith. Without that foundations of resurrection, our faith would be empty.
The second point of view is liturgical. It is the path of Lent. During 40 days we are going to pray and we continue to pray. We fasted and we shall continue to fast. We have become more generous towards other and we will continue to do more in the future. The spirituality of Lent is very well known here. You know it very well. Therefore, the Liturgical path that is preparing us to reach the third perspective, is the perspective of our life.
A life of each one of us. We live for resurrection. We march toward resurrection. We shall go through death in order to resurrect. The final goal of our earthly life is resurrection. During this path we are to resurrect. Already on a way on that final perspective our conversion is part of resurrection. Jesus says and repeats about the death of the body, but He also speaks of the death of soul. The death of the soul is far more serious, a far greater threat, because in that case we might die for the whole of eternity.
Therefore, each time when we could continue to convert ourselves, we are turning ourselves towards God who is the truth, who is life, who is the path. He is the source of eternal life. It is directing us towards love, because God is love. It’s love that makes us alive. It is merciful love that brings us inner peace and the joy of life. But there are two conditions. The first is faith. Jesus, before performing miracles demanded faith, faith in Him that He could do it. “Lord, I believe in You! I truly believe!” And that faith opens our heart for conversion, and opens our heart through the Sacramental Confession that is mercy itself. Our hearts are opened up through confession, they are purified, and opened up to the Holy Spirit and they are filled by it by the Holy Trinity.
Christ confirms to us in the Book of Revelations, He says that He is standing at the door of our heart, knocking on it. And if the Most Holy Trinity dwells in us we become the temple of God.
I would like to return to the historic perspective of resurrection. In the days ahead of us we are going to read in the gospel, we are going to see that Jesus’ enemies are throwing their nets around Jesus, threatening Jesus more every day. He knows it, He is aware of it, He knows that which the disciples don’t know. There is someone who follows Him on that path of suffering, that Passion. It is the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is always near. She suffers with Him. She feels her helplessness. Saint John Paul II said it was her faith. Often we call Blessed Mother, “Our Lady of Sorrows’. Throughout her life she suffered so much pain. And her suffering grows together with Jesus’ Passion all the way to the foot of His Cross, on the Way of the Cross. At the 4th station, we meditate Jesus carrying His cross and encountering His mother. And the gospel tells us that she was the witness of His horrifying death on the Cross. In her own arms she received the massacred body of her Son. The Christian tradition says that before Mary of Magdalene, Mary, the Mother of Christ, encountered the risen Christ.
In the perspective of the life of each one of us, the perspective of resurrection, of course the Blessed Mother is there as well. She accompanies us, she follows us, she participates in our suffering and our pain. If we live in the perspective of God, she is helping us to be saved. She is helping us on our path of conversion. And we have to experience that spiritual presence of hers. We call her especially here, the Queen of Peace. In the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, there are some twelve titles in which we call her Queen. And Queen of Peace is last.
Mary is Queen. When we contemplate the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, we speak of her as Queen of Heaven and Earth. We meditate upon her Assumption as well as her Crowning as Queen of Heaven and Earth. She participates in all the characteristics of the Kingship of her Son, the one who is the Creator of Heaven and Earth. His Kingdom is universal. She is everywhere and we are allowed to praise her and revere her everywhere. We thank her for her constant presence in the life of each one of us, she is by each one of us always present. Queen of Peace, it is the fruit of conversion. She brings peace into our hearts and thus we become peaceful people, peaceful with our families, with our environment, our governments, our societies.
Peace in the world is threatened. Pope Francis, Holy Father, says that the Third World War is partially already here. And the most terrible are the civil wars, those that take place among people who live in the same country. Dear brothers and sisters, I lived for 21 years in Rwanda. Africa. In 1982 Our Lady was appearing there. And she predicted the genocide in Rwanda, 10 years before it actually happened. When she gave that message, no one understood it. In this genocide, in three months, one million people were slaughtered. The apparitions of Blessed Mother in Rwanda were already recognized. She introduced herself as the Mother of the Eternal Word. Also in the perspective of the lack of peace, therefore that call that is so intense here, is so important for the whole world!! We pray for peace, because destructive forces are tremendous throughout the world. It is tragic that families, societies, marriages, countries, are in conflict. We need a heavenly intervention. And the presence of the Blessed Mother is one of these interventions. It is God’s initiative. Therefore, I would like to encourage and fortify all of you on behalf of the Pope, as his emissary. (Translator weeps and thanks Jesus and applause in church)
Spread throughout the world, peace, through the conversion of hearts. The greatest miracle of Medjugorje are the confessions here. The Sacrament of Reconciliation and Mercy, forgiveness. It is the Sacrament of Resurrection. And I want to thank all the priests who come here to hear confessions of the faithful. I have seen today over 60 priests available for confession, serving the people of God. I have spent many years in Western Countries, France, Belgium…and I would say that Confession, individual confession, practically has disappeared in the Western world with the exception of here and there. Therefore, the heart of man is closed. The world is becoming dry. Evil is strengthening. Conflicts are multiplied. Therefore, let us all be the apostles of the Good News, Conversion and Peace in the world.
As I have learned here, I have heard these words: Non-believers are those who have not yet experienced the love of God. When love and mercy of God touches you, you cannot resist it. Therefore, we are going to participate together with those who save lives, we are witnesses of those who are saving lives. As the Franciscans said, there are pilgrims coming from at least 80 different countries throughout the world. This calling has been spread to the ends of the world, just as Jesus said to the Apostles, sending them to the ends of the world. You are witnesses of the love of Christ, and the love of His Mother, and love of the Church. May God fortify you in faith and bless you! (Standing ovation!)