By John Paul II
‘And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (Jn 19:27). These are the concluding words of the Gospel in today’s liturgy at Fatima. The disciple’s name was John.
It was he, John, the son of Zebedee, the apostle and evangelist, who heard from the Cross the words of Christ: “Behold, your mother.” But first Christ had said to his Mother: “Woman, behold, your son.” This was a wonderful testament.
As he left this world, Christ gave to his Mother a man, a human being, to be like a son for her: John. He entrusted him to her. And, as a consequence of this giving and entrusting, Mary became the mother of John. The Mother of God became the Mother of man.
From that hour John “took her to his own home” and became the earthly guardian of the Mother of his Master; for sons have the right and duty to care for their mother. John became by Christ’s will the son of the Mother of God. And in John every human being became her child. The words “he took her to his own home” can be taken in the literal sense as referring to the place where he lived.
Mary’s motherhood in our regard is manifested in a particular way in the places where she meets us: her dwelling places; places in which a special presence of the Mother is felt.
There are many such dwelling places. They are of all kinds: from a special corner in the home or little wayside shrines adorned with an image of the Mother of God, to chapels and churches built in her honour. However, in certain places; the Mother’s presence is felt in a particularly vivid way. These places sometimes radiate their light over a great distance and draw people from afar. Their radiance may extend over a diocese, a whole nation, or at times over several countries and even continents. These places are the Marian sanctuaries or shrines.
In all these places that unique testament of the Crucified Lord is wonderfully actualised: in them man feels that he is entrusted and confided to Mary; he goes there in order to be with her as with his Mother; he opens his heart to her and speaks to her about everything; he “takes her to his own home”, that is to say, he brings her into all his problems, which at times are difficult. His own problems and those of others. The problems of the family, of societies, of nations and of the whole of humanity.
Is not this the case with the shrine at Lourdes, in France? Is not this the case with Jasna Góra, in Poland, my own country’s shrine, which this year is celebrating its 600th anniversary?
There too, as in so many other shrines of Mary throughout the world, the words of today’s liturgy seem to resound with a particularly authentic force: “You are the great pride of our nation” (Jdt 15:9), and also: “When our nation was’ brought low... you avenged our ruin, walking in the straight path before our God” (Jdt 13:20).
At Fatima these words resound; as one particular echo of the experiences not only of the Portuguese nation but also of so many other. countries and peoples on this earth: indeed, they echo the experience of modern mankind as a whole, the whole of the human family.
And so I come here today because on this very day last year, in St Peter’s Square in Rome, the attempt on the Pope’s life was made, in mysterious coincidence with the anniversary of the first apparition at Fatima, which occurred on May 13 1917.
I seemed to recognise in the coincidence of the dates a special call to come to this place. And so, today I am here. I have come in order to thank Divine Providence in this place which the Mother of God seems to have chosen in a particular way.