The Least and the Last

Last night I was browsing through my Netflix for something to watch when I came upon Lee Strobel’s documentary on his search for faith “The Case for Christ.”  Strobel, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and a former atheist, recounts the investigative work he did to see if he could find proof for Christ.  After two years of intense investigation, he found that the evidence for Christ was overwhelming and he turned his life to Christ, became a Christian, and began to share his story.  In the final stages of his investigation, Strobel focused on the Resurrection.  This is an area where many unbelievers focus their attention.  You will hear many people say that they believe Jesus lived, died, and was a wonderful person, but that He did not rise from the dead.  The arguments that Strobel found to contradict this opinion were quite interesting.  There was one particular argument that stuck with me through the night. 

The first person to discover that Jesus had risen from the dead was Mary Magdalene.  Mary Magdalene and the other women were the first ones to discover the empty tomb.  In John 20:1-18 we read that she was the first person the Risen Lord appeared to.   Now in the time of Christ, women did not hold much merit in society.  In fact, the word of a woman would easily be discredited without further thought.  We see this even in the Gospels as the apostles did not believe the women and Peter ran to the tomb to see for himself if this was true.  The fact that Christ first appears to women, who were largely considered second class citizens, is truly amazing!  Had this been a fabricated story, why on earth would they choose to have it reported by someone who would be ignored and discredited almost immediately?  Jesus revealed the truth of the Resurrection first to the women, to the lesser in society.

“Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last” Matthew 20:16

This morning I awoke and looking outside at the rain, decided to watch another documentary in Netflix.  This time I watched a History Channel documentary on Lourdes.  A variety of scholars, some believing in the miracle of Lourdes and some not, shared their findings.  One of the scholars featured, who did not believe in Mary’s appearance to St. Bernadette, stuck to the argument that Bernadette was merely a child facing illness and family hardship and turned to a fantasy-type hallucination of her own creation.  Upon hearing his argument, I immediately thought back to the Strobel documentary and that one point that had stuck with me.

“Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last” Matthew 20:16

I have always been fascinated by the Marian apparitions and after watching this documentary, I began to think back on other apparitions.  Who is it that Mother Mary is appearing to in each circumstance?  A king?  The richest of nations?  Not at all. In 1531 Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego, a poor peasant.   In Paris, Sister Catherine Labouré, a young sister of only 24, saw Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in 1830.  Our Lady appeared again in 1916 to three shepherd children in Fatima.  In 1933 in a small village called Banneux, the Virgin appeared to a small child of only eleven years, Mariette Beco.   

Each of these appearances was to the “least” in society.  To the poor, the lowly, the last.  Jesus tells us that the last will be first and the first will be last.  He tells us:

“Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.  And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.” Matthew 18:4-5.

 The women who were blessed with the news of the Resurrection, Mary Magdalene as she was blessed with the appearance of Our Lord, the poor, the children, the women who were humbled by the appearance of Our Lady throughout the years.  These were not the leaders of nations.  They were the least; the last.  If the goal of the Church was merely to fabricate stories, why in the world would they choose time and time again for the visionaries of these events to be of such low standing?  If these events were made up fantasies, why not make up apparitions to kings, to those in high standing in society?  The answer in my mind is simple.  These events are not make-believe.  They are true, glorious, heavenly appearances.  And they happen first to those who are last, just as Our Lord told us.  And we are called to receive the least of these just as we would receive Christ.  As the children and least of society share their miraculous visions with the world, we are called to receive their words. 

I believe with my whole heart in Jesus.  In the Resurrection.  In the Eucharist.  In the Assumption of Our Blessed Mother and in her appearances throughout the ages.  It is something I feel in my heart and my soul and I know to be true.  In examining the similarities between that first appearance of the Resurrected Christ to Mary Magdalene and the appearance of the Virgin Mary to others, I am left with one thought.  One prayer. 

 I pray to be humbled like that of a child.  I pray that my heart and soul will be open to receiving and helping the children, the poor, the least, the last.  I pray that the Lord will fill my soul with the faith of a child so that my eyes and heart will be open to the will of God.   I pray that Christ will work through me so that I may share His love with everyone.  And I pray that the love of Jesus may be known to all.  That everyone may come to know His saving grace, His everlasting peace, and that one day we will all come to see Him face to face when we meet our Loving Father in Heaven.

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4 thoughts on “The Least and the Last

  1. 8kidsandabusiness September 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm Reply

    A beautiful declaration of faith. Thanks.

  2. SR September 27, 2012 at 7:11 pm Reply

    This was really good and such “deep thought.” I am sure with your heart, you will be open to all things in which it desires. Thanks for sharing and God Bless, SR

  3. ifightforgod September 29, 2012 at 12:56 pm Reply

    Thanks for checking out my blog! You have lots of great posts as well! God bless you!

  4. SR October 1, 2012 at 9:05 pm Reply

    I wanted to stop by and let you know I have given you the “Readers Appreciation Award” You can pick up at http://watermyflowerslord.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/wow-another-award God Bless, SR

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