Theme for Our 2019 Pilgrimage

The message and theme for Lourdes this year is; ‘Blessed are the poor, the Kingdom of God is theirs.’ The very word ‘poor’ can be very emotional and even loaded. Perhaps when we see or hear the word poor, we already have an image of it in our heads.

Maybe it’s the image we see on our television when there is an earthquake, or some other natural disaster. Perhaps, closer to home on our own streets are the people we see who are homeless. These are all very clear examples of public and visible poverty and what it means to be poor and they should be accepted nor should we become indifferent to them.

However, if we are honest with ourselves, we all experience poverty and being poor in some shape or form and it is usually hidden, secret and buried.A long -term illness can take away our independence and even our dignity. Loneliness can be a crippling thing to experience; it can rob us of our sense of belonging and of being connected to others. Being ignored, dismissed or excluded because of race, colour or religious beliefs can lead to painful isolation, which is itself a terrible poverty.When we come to Lourdes, we come as we are; with all our joy joys, hopes, and faith. We also come with our pain, sadness, grief and those parts of lives that cry out for the healing touch of Jesus. We come as we are, with our poverty; we can’t leave it at home!

The invitation of Jesus to each of us is; ‘Come to me all you who are over-burdened and are laboured and you will find rest.’ This is this invitation that Lourdes offers us every year. We can’t always rely on our own efforts and strength to ease our pain or relieve
our inner poverty. Eventually we have reach out to God and ask for help. The sick man said to Jesus, ‘if you want to, you can heal me.’ Jesus looked at him and said, ‘Of course I want to heal you.’ If we can come to Jesus in faith and with honest humility, he will say the same to us.Jesus does not save from us from our pain and poverty; he saves us through our pain and poverty.

Perhaps the experience of St. Paul can help and encourage us. He was struggling with some part of his daily life and prayed;

Three times I pleaded with Lord
that it might leave me,
but the Lord said;
My grace is enough for you;
for my power is strongest
when you are weak.

(2 Cor. 12. 9)

As we prepare for Lourdes this year, can we make Paul’s prayer, hope and faith our own?
Can we accept our own weakness and poverty, offer them Jesus so that he heal and transform them?
Blessed are we who are poor, the Kingdom of God is ours!

– Michael Moore, OMI