From a tender age, he was afflicted with a crippling condition that seemed to have robbed him of all hope. His mother brought him to the sacred grounds of the "Mother of Us All." Residing in Serbia, she had heard of the Marian apparitions in Medjugorje, a quaint village nestled in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
His family carried the young boy to the summit of Apparition Hill, where his mother fervently implored the Divine Mother for a miraculous intervention. Although an immediate transformation did not materialize, an incredible change greeted them the following day when her son awoke and discovered he was healed and could walk.
News of this extraordinary event quickly circulated within the close-knit village, where the Serbian family was hailed as recipients of a miracle attributed to the boundless compassion and grace of the Virgin Mary.
Nevertheless, one Catholic Croatian priest could not accept this astonishing news. He grappled with disbelief at the notion of the Virgin Mary healing a young "gypsy" of Serbian descent. Overwhelmed by his nationalistic dismay and disapproval, he approached one of the visionaries to pray to the Divine Mother for an explanation regarding the healing of this young boy.
The visionary reported that the Virgin Mary looked at the priest for a long time before answering. It was not a gaze of repulsion, as one might imagine in human terms. Instead, it was that of a long-suffering mother with endless tolerance. This was the Virgin Mary's response:
"Tell this priest, tell everyone, that you are divided on earth. For the same reason, the Catholics, the Muslims, and the Orthodox are equal before my Son and me. You are all my children… all men are equal before God. It does not suffice to belong to the Catholic Church to be saved, but it is necessary to respect the commands of God in following one's conscience... Those who are not Catholics are no less creatures made in the image of God, and destined to rejoin someday the House of the Father. Salvation is available to everyone, without exception. Only those who refuse God deliberately are condemned. To him who has been given little, little will be asked for. To whoever has been given much, very much will be required. God alone, in His infinite justice, determines the degree of responsibility (for each person) and pronounces judgment." –The Last Apparition by Wayne Welbie
This profound message of unity and compassion from the Virgin Mary reminds me of what Swami Kriyananda once said, "We're one human race, and we are one in God."
What separates us from realizing that we are one human race? Condemnation starts with likes and dislikes, leading to different cultures, clans, and nations. These "fancy frozen boundaries," as Paramhansa Yogananda called them, constrict the heart's natural love.
How can we cleanse our hearts of judgment and condemnation? A straightforward way is to not gossip and talk about others. As Yogananda said:
"There is plenty of dirt to remove from your own mental home. Do not indulge in evil talk about the mental dirt in the lives of other people, but get busy and free your own life from weaknesses. Silently heal yourself of the desire to criticize, and when free from condemnation and gossip yourself, teach others to be better by your sympathetic heart and good example." -How to Be Happy All the Time
In a world divided by differences, the timeless message of unity and compassion from the Divine Mother serves as a beacon of hope, reminding us that we are all Her children, equal in the eyes of God and that our hearts can be cleansed through love and understanding, one step at a time.