Acts 15:1-6; Psalm 122; John 15:1-8
Today, we remember the apparition of our Lady in Fatima. We do this, not because we worship Mary as God, but because of the message she brought: a message of repentance, of coming back to God. Catholics have been accused of worshiping idols because we honor the saints, especially Mary. BUT this does not mean we worship her nor the saints as gods. There is only one God. There is one Mediator, Jesus Christ. BUT we ask Mary and the saints to pray for us because they now have eternal life since they lived in Christ while they are on earth. Just because they are physically dead and in the presence of God, does not mean they have washed their hands from what happens on earth. In fact, they are more in tune with the mind of Christ because they now see him face to face. They have lived as branches in the True Vine who is Christ. They have borne much fruit when they lived the earth and they continue to bear fruit that lasts as they are in heaven. Our discipleship to Christ does not end in our life here. It is perfected in heaven. The fruit borne in heaven will be more glorious and profound than the fruit borne on earth. Why? If we live in Christ here on earth, Christ lives in us despite our sinfulness and frailties. This life IN Christ in perfected in heaven. And if we live in Christ, Jesus promised: if you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done to you. This is why the prayers of the saints and of Mary are powerful because they already live in Christ and his words live in them!
If we ask our brothers and sisters in Christ on earth for prayers, even as they are sinners like us, what is wrong with asking our brothers and sisters in Christ in heaven for prayers when they now abide perfectly in him and his words abide in them.
In her apparitions, our Blessed Mother also refers to priests. Again, many accuse Catholics of inventing the priesthood. Yet, the First Reading shows this order already existed even in the time of the Apostles. When Paul and Barnabas had a dispute with those who insisted on circumcision, they settled this dispute by taking it to Jerusalem with the apostles and the elders. The word elder comes from the Greek word presbuterous from which we get the word presbyter whom we call priests. This is a different order than Bishops, the successors of the Apostles whom Paul calls episkopos in one of his letters. So at the time of the Apostles, the order of presbyters already existed.
Another thing to note is when the dispute was brought to Jerusalem, the First Reading ends by saying The Apostles and the elders met together to consider this matter. This proves that the right interpretation of the teaching of Christ had been referred to the Apostles for resolution, because they are the ones who were most closely trained by Jesus and they knew the mind of Jesus. They are the branches who are closely attached to the Vine.
Therefore, contrary to accusations, Catholics follow Scripture AND the practice of the Church since the time of the Apostles. Those who say otherwise have not bothered to do what 1 John 4:1 tells us: Test all spirits. Searching for the truth IS part of testing all spirits. It is how we live in Christ so we can bear fruit in abundance and bear fruit that will last.
Now, how is this related to our situation today? For one, we need to believe what the Church teaches with regard to faith and morals. Sadly many Catholics do not believe in everything the Church teaches in faith and morals. More sad is many people distort the true teaching from Jesus through the Apostles, presenting a God of mercy while leaving out the need for justice. Yes, we pray to God and to our Blessed Mother to help us in this pandemic. Yes, God is merciful and he is not the source of this pandemic. Yes, God can remove this plague in an instant if he wants. BUT God will not do this just because we ask him. Jesus said in the Gospel: if you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. There are conditions for God to do what we ask: We need to live in him and his words need to live in us. If we continue with our culture of death and promiscuity how can we expect God to hear us? We need to come back to God, to repent of our sins, to desire to live in him, to desire to have his words live in us SO WE WILL RECEIVE WHAT WE ASK!
Lord, here I am, sinful and sorrowful. I accept the teaching of Jesus through the Apostles and our Lady of Fatima. Their call to repentance, to turn back to you, to reject the life of sin. They have said you are the God of Mercy. They also have said you are a God of justice. Here I am, repenting of my sins, rejecting the sins I have done: my promiscuous lifestyle, my stubbornness to believe your Word. Receive me Lord. I want to live in your life, to have you live in me and your words to live in me. I know you hear this prayer of repentance. Thank you Lord. Blessed Lady of Fatima, pray for me. Lead me to Jesus.