Emmitsburg Council of Churches


Father John J. Lombardi

The word Comes from the Greek and Latin, meaning "to show" or "manifest"­in essence it is a God-appearance. This Sunday is the Solemnity we celebrate Jesus’s manifestation to the Magi-Astrologers-Wise Men. Translation: He appeared to these folks to show He is for all peoples-not just the Jews; and also to indicate that He is appearing all around us: Do you see Him?

In going to the Grotto daily I merely roll out of bed and go up the Mountain. Very simple and short. However, recently I was struck by Marcia and her husband Frank who drove 1,100 miles to visit the Grotto. And that was a one-weekend only pilgrimage. Wow! She was recently diagnosed with a recurring cancer and wanted to get a good jump start before her upcoming treatments. She said: What better place than the Grotto? They came to Mass, received blessings, drank the spring water, fellowshipped with other pilgrims and sat in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Thru all these ways she relieved healing­and also manifested it to others.

While at dinner last Sunday night Marcia said something profound. She mentioned the difficulty her children are understandably having in accepting her now-recurring illness, along with the family’s uncertain future. But Marcia’s personality is otherwise­and her faith. She’s a God-seeker and follower. She explained to her children her acceptance of God’s mysterious Plan in that if God imaginarily said she, Marcia, could have one minute of cancer free existence in peace, would she take it? Marcia said assertively: "No, I would not take it: that would pull me out of the Will of God." …She continued: His Will is to allow me to have this and work thru it. I want to do His Will... Wow again. This pilgrim lady demonstrated great Faith and also, for me, "an appearance of God"­He manifested Himself and His Cross and Providence in this lady-so clearly­just at a time when I needed an inspiration like this. I never received this "Message" or demonstration of Faith in the seminary –you can’t learn this in a textbook­it is a Divine, illuminating experience and a welcome epiphany that breaks into our world sometimes!...So, ask: In difficult times how do you draw close to God or go away from Him? Do Crosses and tribulations help or hurt your relationship with God and others? May this lady’s witness help and inspire you!

Another Epiphany: I met Shane last week. He was straggling across the parking lot with his mom to the Glass Chapel to pray in front of Jesus in the Eucharist. He’s a cancer survivor. No, better yet: he’s a heroic witness of Faith and mystical communion. We stopped and talked on the lot and he told me how has been healed of his sickness and how much the Grotto has done for him and how he wants to spread God’s message to all he can­especially others struggling with cancer. He and his mom said Jesus was out of their lives and now He is in­Christ is a living reality permeating all aspects of their life They said how Jesus is now the "leader of their family"­and how Christ was once just an idea or a thought but now He is truly experienced in their lives. They gleamed with gratefulness at all the help they’ve gotten these past few months and truly believe Mary’s Grotto is a sacred place and that God has spoken in their lives. They said they will continue to come to the Grotto on pilgrimage and thank God for all the "angels"­human messengers who carry and extend God’s love and healing peace to them and others . Their main mission now: to communicate all this thru word and deed and internet to invite people to God the Infinite Source of Medicine and Immortality…How can you encourage others to God and Healing Love? How can you witness God’s love and conversion in your life to others? How will you pray and intercede for others?

Just before Christmas I visited jail and had an epiphany. I asked the lady I visited, using a telephone and thru a thick glass plate, how she was doing and, Are you getting ready for Christmas? She said instantly as a smile lit up her face, It’s going well. There’s no commercialization here­you can really focus. God is within." Wow. She’s in jail and freer than most people. She later said how much she is learning in rposion and, despite all the beaurocracy and hold-ups for her release: God’s got a plan for me here­He’s teaching me…

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi