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Apparitions at Knock

Last Sunday hoards of people descended on the Mayo village of Knock in response to a prediction made by Dublin-based clairvoyant Joe Coleman. He forecast that an apparition of the Virgin Mary would appear at 3pm. He made a similar prediction about an appearance near Dungloe last week.

Coleman claims he has had regular visions of Mary since 1986. He said regarding the predicted Knock apparition on Sunday, “She has told me she wants to make the biggest statement she has ever made on this earth.”

What are we to make of all this? Mary was undoubtedly a remarkable woman, ‘highly favoured by God’ as the Bible puts it. She was a young girl when she was landed with news that would turn her life upsidedown—in ways far from pleasant. She was to have a son, outside of marriage—an event in a time and culture where this was unthinkable. She is told that a ‘sword will pierce her heart too’—this son is going to bring great pain and sorrow to her. Yet she shows great fortitude and faith throughout.

But one thing she always does is to direct attention to her son, to step back from the limelight, and to keep him in it. She is presented in scripture as one who ‘ponders and stores things up in her heart’. Even when Christ ascended into Heaven and his followers were meeting in Jerusalem she still doesn’t push herself forward, she remains in the background. It would have been easy to try to claim status in that little group, but in her superb humility she doesn’t—for that would upstage her son, and his message of salvation. What a humility of heart.

I think this is significant, and bears thinking about. Her focus is not on herself, but always on her son. This is fully exemplified in words spoken at his first miracle when she turned to the servants and said, “Do whatever he tells you.” There she is, always directing the attention to Jesus.

And what is it he says? “Come to
me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” It is Jesus who gives us rest. It is him we are to go to, and focus on.

What are we to make of these recent happenings? I think we should assess them by Holy Scripture’s own criteria. And I think that the biggest statement Mary ever made on earth was delivered somewhere around 30AD at Cana in Galilee, “Do whatever He tells you.” (John 2:5)