My people – three times Mary uses this phrase, once early on and twice in the conclusion of her merciful message at La Salette. Very clearly from the outset, she indicates that we are the recipients of her great news – far beyond just Maximin and Melanie. She addresses the entire people of God.
At La Salette Mary invites us to join in a spiritual revolution. One hundred and twenty two years before the Second Vatican Council, she very clearly invites us out of an individualistic attitude of mind into a personal, active commitment in faith. She has a truly personal yet universal message involving ourselves, our God, and our spiritual life – all within the context of an immense family of faith, the people of God.
We find the phrase, my people, more than 2,000 times in the Bible, including 150 in the New Testament alone. And, of course, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council wrote:
“...it pleased (God) to bring (humanity) together as one people, a people which acknowledges (God) in truth and serves (God) in holiness. He therefore chose the race of Israel as a people unto himself. With it he set up a covenant. Step by step he taught and prepared this people... I will be their God, and they shall be my people...
For those who believe in Christ... are finally established as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people... who in times past were not a people, but are now the people of God". That messianic people has Christ for its head... The state of this people is that of the dignity and freedom of the sons (and daughters) of God... "(Lumen Gentium, #9, emphasis added).
We are never really finished listening to this call of Mary addressed to all her people. She wants us to submit to God's plan for us – to be reconciled. We are now more than seven billion people living on our Earth. Each of us, without exception, is a member of the people of God.
Mélanie understood this well. To those who asked her how she understood the words of Mary – all my people – she replied: "Everybody." It's very clear: all humans without exception are called to accept this free gift of Love. No one is excluded.
This is also the etymological meaning of the word catholic. Even our Protestant brothers and sisters translated it as universal or all-embracing. The conclusion of Chapter II of Lumen Gentium (13-l7) speaks of this new people of God:
All (humans) are called to belong to the new people of God. Wherefore this people, while remaining one and only one, is to be spread throughout the whole world and must exist in all ages, so that the decree of God's will may be fulfilled... (#13)
It follows that though there are many nations there is but one people of God, which takes its citizens from every race, making them citizens of a kingdom which is of a heavenly rather than of an earthly nature...This characteristic of universality which adorns the people of God is a gift from the Lord Himself. By reason of it, the Catholic Church strives constantly and with due effect to bring all humanity and all its possessions back to its source In Christ, with him as its head and united in his Spirit...
All (humans) are called to be part of this catholic unity of the people of God which in promoting universal peace presages it. In this way the Church both prays and labors in order that the entire world may become the People of God, the Body of the Lord and the Temple of the Holy Spirit... (#17)
So the Virgin Reconciler, in using the phrase, my people, reminds us of the breadth of our vocation – to be the people of God, her people, his people – the people of her Son. Again Vatican II summarized who we are:
"These (lay) faithful are by baptism made one body with Christ and are constituted among the People of God; they are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly functions of Christ; and they carry out for their own part the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world" (Lumen Gentium, # 31).
This is an important part of the message that our Weeping Mother – Mother of the Church and of the People of God – wishes us to appreciate and then to share with all her people.
(Reprinted with permission from the La Salette Publication,
Les Annales, vol. 245, March-April, 2015, “Mon Peuple!”, pg. 9, edited)