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Bishop Davies' Homily at Grotto of Lourdes, July 26th
"Here we can glimpse not only what the Church is against but what the Church is always for. Against everything which demeans the eternal value of the human person and for the life and dignity of every man, woman and child."
LONDON, July 28, 2014 (Zenit.org) - The following is the text of a homily delivered July 26th by Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, England, during the diocese's annual pilgrimage to Lourdes.
"St Luke tells how Mary went "as quickly as she could" (Lk.1:39) with an urgency allowed no delay to bring the joy of the Gospel to one mother and to one child yet to be born. The joy Mary brings is not an idea, not a theory, not a dream but a Person, the Gospel Himself, Jesus Christ. We can recognise this same urgency, this same joy in the meeting with Bernadette who represents all those little ones Pope Francis describes as discarded humanity. Mary of Nazareth greets and gently bows to Bernadette of Lourdes. And Bernadette asks, like Elizabeth: "why should I be honoured with a visit from the Mother of my Lord?" (Lk.1:43).
Mindful of the millions who would fall victim to the wars and inhuman ideologies of the century and a half which followed Lourdes calls us to recognise the Gospel anew. Here we can glimpse not only what the Church is against but what the Church is always for. Against everything which demeans the eternal value of the human person and for the life and dignity of every man, woman and child. Mary shows us how placing those who are weakest, frailest at the centre of our concerns brings not sadness and loss but joy, the joy of conversion.
A hundred years ago this week, the world descended into what is now called the First World War, the second war would quickly follow and a Cold War would bring humanity to the brink of nuclear extinction. It is hard to believe how in those summer weeks of 1914 the beginnings of this whole catastrophe would be welcomed by ecstatic crowds and enjoy wide, public support. At a time when our country is actively considering "assisting" the sick and aged to kill themselves it seems once again that many who rejoice in such notions of "progress" fail to see the consequences of "the culture of death" they are creating..
Lourdes offers a radically different vision, as Cardinal Nichols expressed it a week ago, in words I cannot improve on: "here (in Lourdes) all the lessons about caring for the sick and the dying are spelt out boldly; the innate dignity of each person; the exhausting demands and rewards of caring for them, the horizon of eternity ... Here no one points to the dark door of suicide, assisted or not. Lourdes has far more to teach us about dying than the killing clinics of Holland or Switzerland" (17th July 2014).
Some of our contemporaries may be swayed by the changing tides of public opinion in a way not dissimilar to the emotionalism which marked these summer weeks a century ago. However, through global war and every ideology which has sought to strip human life of its value and dignity, Lourdes has continued its clear witness to the value of every person, especially those most in danger of being discarded. It must give encouragement to all who work for "the cause of life" that, as war and ideologies have passed, this light shining in Lourdes has remained undimmed. We the generation of 2014 are surely invited here to glimpse anew the value of each and every person in the light of Heaven, in the light of the Gospel Mary brings with such urgency: Jesus Christ our Lord.
+ Mark, Bishop of Shrewsbury
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