Part I: February 2012: “If today you hear His Voice…”
“Dear children, Today I call you to open your heart to the Holy Spirit and to permit Him to transform you. My children, God is the immeasurable good and therefore, as a mother, I implore you to pray, pray, pray, fast and hope that it is possible to attain that good, because love is born of that good. The Holy Spirit will reinforce that good in you and you will be able to call God your Father. Through this exalted love, you will sincerely come to love all people and, through God, consider them brothers and sisters. Thank you. ”
It is also reported that as Our Lady gave her blessing she said: "On the way on which I lead you to my Son, those who represent Him walk beside me"
(Our Lady of Medjugorje’s Message of November 2, 2007)
I believe that Our Lady is the greatest evangelist of all time. In the 16th century, within eight years of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s appearances to St. Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City, 9 million Indians throughout Mexico converted to Christianity. No one truly knows how many times the Virgin Mary has appeared throughout the world, wherever her children have listening hearts. The Blessed Virgin Mary is calling her children today to say yes to her Divine Son, Jesus, and through Him, to our Heavenly Father.
His Mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5)
I would like to share with you the testimony of the spiritual conversion of Alma, who heard the Lord calling her to give her soul to Him, and whose life has been (and is being) profoundly and beautifully changed by her yes to His call. (Names have been changed.):
“If today you hear His Voice, harden not your hearts”. Psalm 95
It was my nephew Jay’s death that opened my eyes. But no, I’d felt God whispering my name long before that. It made no difference which Catholic church I was in. No matter what state of mind I was in, or what I was holding in my heart, it was as if someone was looking through me, reading my innermost feelings and thoughts—and understanding. And it seemed like it was quite often that I’d hear Psalm 95, and each time I felt that tugging on my heartstrings. I knew, as time passed, that He was calling me, but I turned away my ears, and did not acknowledge His Voice. I felt like He had a place in my life—in church on Sunday. Put Him on a shelf on my way out of church, and pick Him up again next Sunday on my way into church.
Don’t get me wrong, I was raised “in the church”. Mass on Sundays, Communion, the Sacraments. I remember, as a child, knowing that if I waited long enough, the priest would say, “En aquel tiempo…”, and a story about Jesus would begin as he read the gospel. Also, I remember my sister reading Bible stories to us. My favorite one was the one about Solomon and the two women who claimed the same baby. What I mean is, I’ve always been aware of the Presence of God, but it was not really a part of me. I’d go to Mass, and line up for Communion, but it was something I did automatically, without thinking. I’d walk out of church and forget about God until the following Sunday. So you see, I was always AWARE, but not really AWAKE.
And then Jay died. We gathered at the church office to make arrangements for the funeral, and the first thing Father Henry asked was, “What can you tell me about Jay?”, and everyone was quiet, so I spoke up and told him about how good he’d been, how he’d taken care of his mother after her surgery, and how he’d always been a good son, yada, yada, yada. He then asked, “What church did he go to?” Well, he did not go to church. I guess he went once in a while, whenever he felt like it. After the meeting, I stayed for confession. I walked into Father Henry’s office, and he shut the door behind him. And then he turned my life around. I came face to face with my own mortality. Why should I take it for granted that I’m going to live forever? Jay went to bed one night and never woke up. It could happen to me! Crudely speaking, I could be caught (not literally, I hope), with my pants down!
Life is a transient thing, and it can end at any time, and I knew that something in me had to acknowledge the Lord. I felt that I needed to find out why He’d been calling me. I JUST KNEW He was. On that day I gave my life, heart, and soul to Jesus.
At Mass the following Sunday, the verse after Communion was “I chose you—you didn’t choose me” John 15:16. That was directed right at me. I’d been feeling Him around me, even when I didn’t want Him around. I could feel His thoughts intertwined with mine, telling me, “Do this.” And it would persist until I followed through.
Like that homeless man I’d seen before at restaurants, drinking coffee and staring out the window, into what? He was always alone, physically and, I just knew, spiritually as well. I paid for his lunch once, and he never knew who paid. And the Voice, said, “Good, but…” It was like I’d fed a stray dog. He was a person, but I might as well have tossed a bone in his direction.
Sometime later, I saw him again, and I opened my purse to give him a couple of dollars, but all I had was a ten, and I thought, “No way! I can’t give him that!” And I closed my purse. But the Feeling persisted, saying, “Give it to him.” Moodily I got the money and walked to him and asked, “Have you eaten?” And he turned to me and we locked eyes. I still remember those eyes, like they were looking into my soul. “Not really”, he answered. I gave him the money and turned away, and as I walked off I heard him say, “God bless you.” Did The Feeling make him say that to me by way of approval? Because as much as I tried to deny it, I felt the presence of God, I felt like in his eyes I had seen Jesus eyes. That evening, as I read my Word Among Us, it spoke about not turning away from the wanderers, for you never know if they are angels of God. So you see, God was directing my life through Scripture.
After I gave my soul to God, I went through stages. First came such a feeling of awe, and enormous gratitude, that He had tapped ME on the shoulder and had extended his loving hand to me that I would cry during the entire Mass. I’d feel Love in my heart, and the tears would roll down my cheeks. For who am I, that the Lord has chosen ME, of all people, as unworthy as I am? Since then I’ve felt joy, trust, and the knowledge that I’m safe in His hands. I am ready to live in, for, and by His word.
As St. Paul wrote to the Colossians in 1:21-23, “You were once alienated and hostile in mind because of evil deeds. God has now reconciled you in the fleshly Body of Christ through his death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before him, provided that you persevere in the faith, firmly grounded, stable, and not shifting from the hope of the Gospel that you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven.”
Conversion is a daily transformation. The closer we draw to God, and the more we say yes to His directives to us, the more grace we will receive to be transformed. Grace is not something magical or easy. Yes, it is gift, yet it is a gift that we must consent to use. Right now, at this moment, Jesus is calling you (and me) to convert.
“If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts…”