Appearances to the Poor
To whom did the Angel of God first announce the good news of a savior’s arrival? Of course without a moment's delay, after the Annunciation to Mary, it was the poor and raggedy shepherds as they were watching over their flocks at night.
Just like the manner in which Jesus sought apostles to carry out his mission of building a church and chose simple fishermen and some who were not upstanding citizens of the community, God did not presume on the elite of the world to present his Son to the world.
The first sermon Jesus spoke was from Isaiah “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor…….” (Lk 4: 18 ff).
Mary’s magnificat “He has shown his might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty……” (Lk 1: 51 - 53).
How many of us can claim an introduction to a call of service because of our accumulated riches, our long line of degrees following our name, or the deep intellectual premises that separate us from those who have none of those attributes?
There are many who are business tycoons or industrialists who certainly would not have used the Lord’s method of establishing an organization by simply bringing in people without experience, a clean slate of upright applicants, and an ability to take charge at a moment’s notice. Not one of those Jesus chose had these.
We do know that God does not choose any of us because of the outstanding attributes, but the simplicity of a heart that he can give spiritual responsibility to do his bidding as each one develops his will in our journey.
When the Blessed mother appeared to the three children at Fatima, they were young, uneducated in the complications of world events, and had hearts that God knew would follow the awesome task of spreading the Good News via their simplistic manner.
Bernadette Souberous in France never expected to become the most illustrious Saint who through the number of visions with our Blessed Lady and the world has seen many thousands of souls converted to God, many through physical and spiritual healings, but perhaps everyone regaining a faith they never were certain of having.
Even Juan Diego, brought the bishop and thousands following the encounter with Holy Mary Mother of God and left an imprint on his clothing to convince the world of God’s willingness to forgive sinners through penance.
None of these visionaries were astute members of society, as God has said no human will stand in pride; humble yourself before God.
Each occurrence, Fatima, Lourdes, and Juan Diego has opened our infinite minds to the need for penance, a time to reflect all days on the forgiveness God so quickly extends to each. We are the poor who at times have not realized this malady within our everyday busy activities.
Penance; the one acclimation to pray for sinners, present to God our humility, and seek His Forgiveness. We want change in the world and a return to holiness: pray, forgive, and return to the Sacraments.
Ralph B. Hathaway