Lourdes 2015 Pilgrimage Homily From The Mass Of The Annointing Of The Sick
FR KEVIN DRING
Here in Lourdes we quite often find ourselves asking, or being asked by others: How many times have you been to Lourdes? It’s a popular question! I was trying to calculate how many visits I’ve made over the years … something around 15 to 17 pilgrimages, most of them with the Diocese. I know here today there are many who have been more times than me, and there are a good number here for the first time. It doesn’t matter how many times – what matters is how we experience being here.
I’ve found that Lourdes has a way, a power, to add colour to our life – to how we experience ourselves, each other, the Church and the world. This “colour experience” is on the level of the heart. God is very concerned with the “heart level” – the Bible is full of references to “moving into the heart space” . What we experience here can and should cast a light on our lives, not just for a week but for 365 days of the year.
So what do we “experience” here in Lourdes? How are our hearts touched? Quite simply we experience God’s love for us. We experience the reality of that AMAZING GRACE that is God’s love for each and every one of us: we feel it tangibly not as an idea, not as words (not even words in the Bible), but as truth and reality in and through each other, in our care, our real heart-felt concern for the wellbeing and happiness of one another. We experience God’s love, amazing grace, in the freedom we give each other to be, not to have to act, to “be” weak, sick, needy, and vulnerable. But in that we discover, through each other’s’ caring and sharing, and through our praying together, we discover a strength that is not our own, it’s more, it’s beyond, it’s the strength of God, of God’s amazing love and grace: “Come to me all you who labour and are heavy burdened, all of you who are tired and feel your weaknesses, all of you who are afraid – come and find rest, let my strength fill your weakness and become your strength … then your yoke will become easy and your burden light”
This love lavished on us by the Father, through his Son, truly heals us, frees us, carries us and ultimately saves us.
We’re not here in Lourdes, or today in this Mass, in any way isolated from our normal lives – we’re totally connected. God is with us 24 /7 wherever we are. We’re here in a privileged place and moment, so that we can say together with one voice: yes Lord, Amen, we believe in your love, we believe in your healing grace, we believe - with Our Lady, St Bernadette and all the Saints, who’s many images surround us in this basilica – that one day our pilgrimage will bring us to see God face to face and then “we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as he really is”. What we need above all, physically and spiritually, is the gift of faith and hope so that we continue moving God-wards. That’s what Jesus wants to bless each of us with in this Mass and pilgrimage: a deep faith and hope.
We pray for our brothers and sisters to be anointed with the Sacrament of the Sick. We pray that their bodies, minds and hearts may be deeply touched by the grace of His amazing love for them. We pray also for each other and everyone back home, that we may live today and always in God’s amazing grace, with a deep faith and abiding hope. We thank God for bringing us all to this privileged moment. Our Lady of Lourdes, St Bernadette and all Saints – Pray for us!