Back in May of last year, after I had come back from Ecuador and the first Mass and blessing of the church there that my mother and I had funded through the Franciscan Missions, I got an email from the priest, Padre Julian. It had pictures of the construction of the church, that I had never seen. One by one, when you go through the photos, you can see the building in its “before” go to what it looks like in the “after”. What a transformation! It went from old run-down garage-thing to beautiful church where Jesus lives all the time.
But God chose that garage. God needs the “before”, so that after He’s done with it, we can all see both the “before” and “after” and know who He is by what He does: He saves.
The grotto in Lourdes, France is a big rock-like thing that today has a big shrine built on top of it. Jesus lives there all the time. There are miraculous healings and it is the greatest pilgrimage site in the world, and a lot of people consider it one of the holiest and most beautiful and inspiring places in the world. But when Bernadette walked through there 150 years ago and experienced her encounters with the Virgin Mary, the place was a dump. Literally, a garbage dump. People went there to dump their trash and to find random supplies.
But God chose the grotto. He needed a “before”, so that when He was done with it, everyone could see what He does and know who He is.
God doesn’t want the great things we do. He doesn’t want our successes, strengths, our great deeds. He wants our failures, our weaknesses, our sins. He wants our cowardice, our laziness, our resentments, our fears, everything that puts us in the dumps. He wants our “befores”. If we give them to Him, He can build His church on them, and show everyone who He is by what He does.
“On this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.” (Mt 16:18)
Happy feast of Our Lady of Lourdes!