The first reading we heard this morning from the prophet Isaiah promises very great things.

“Light shall rise for you in the darkness.” 

“The gloom shall become for you like midday.” 

“The Lord will guide you always and give you plenty, even on the parched land.”

“He will renew your strength… the ancient ruins shall be rebuilt…”

So many good and great things! But in order for these great things to come to pass — certain conditions must first be met. All these blessings and graces are sure to come…

If… “you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech”

If… you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted.”

If… you hold back your foot on the sabbath from following your own pursuits”

If… then…

If you obey, and are docile to the will of God — If you are willing to radically change your life and center it around the Lord… If you repent and convert….. THEN, great promises will be brought about by the free gift of God’s grace.

If… then…

There’s something in us that sort of revolts at the insane clarity and simplicity of these sorts of “if…then” promises from the Lord. We cry out in defiance and doubt creeps into our hearts: “Can it really be that straightforward? Can it be THAT easy?”

Contrary to what our secular world will tell you: I think it actually is.

Here’s the thing, though — human weakness and human sin complicates everything.

Our fallen human nature is able come up with a million and one reasons why things can’t be this simple. We come up with excuses — we think of all the mitigating circumstances, all the reasons why it’s actually much more difficult and confusing and nuanced than a simple “If…then” sort of arrangement.

And thankfully — God is here for ALL of our complication! The Lord is kind and merciful. He’s so patient with us. He can write straight with crooked lines.

But I think it still needs to be stated very clearly: It doesn’t have to be this complicated.

How much easier it would all be if we would just sincerely love the Lord? If we would JUST listen to Him, renounce our sins, and act on His word?

Go back to the very beginning! — How SIMPLER it would have been had Adam and Eve just trusted God. If they had JUST believed that first “If…then” promise:

“If you do not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, then you will live forever in harmony and peace with God and one another. But IF you eat the fruit, you will surely die.

But we didn’t listen. Humanity chose to complicate things, and we instead listened to the diabolical temptation: “Did God REALLY say that if you ate that fruit, you would die? Come on! He can’t be serious, right? It can’t be THAT easy to lose everything! There’s gotta be more to it than THAT…”

And so, Eve reached out for the forbidden fruit, shared it with her husband who (unfortunately) offered no objection or resistance — and so the long sad history of tragedy, hatred, war, destruction and death has followed.

In the beginning, it was as simple as trusting our Father when He said… “If this… then that.” 

But we fell short.

Now, considering all this, it makes perfect sense to me that the New Eve, our Blessed Mother — would share such simple and direct messages with us —“If…then” messages — when she appears to us on earth. It’s as if Mary’s simplicity and childlike docility counteracts and challenges the complexity of Eve’s distrust.

And so, Mary shares with her dear beloved children… “If you do this… then such and such will happen.”

This is precisely what happened at Fatima in the year 1917. Mary our Mother shared with those three little shepherd children very clear messages… very clear  “if…then” directives.

She told them things like this: “Say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.” How simple! How clear! IF you commit to praying the rosary every day — then World War I will end, and peace will be brought about!

What happens if we don’t obey like good children ought to? What happens if we DON’T submit humbly to our Mother’s gentle and clear commands?

IF men do not refrain from offending God, another and more terrible war will begin.”

IF we don’t convert as a people… IF we don’t respond and turn to God together… IF we don’t stop offending Him through our false ideologies, our atrocities, and our godlessness — then another war, an even worse war will break out! That’s what she told the little children at Fatima.

And sure enough, World War II did eventually break out. Another, more terrible war DID begin — Why? 

Because the world refused to remember God… 

I wonder… If we don’t change our own ways, if our world leaders do not stop blindly following the path they’re currently barreling down: Will something worse happen? Will there be another, still more terrible war? Only God knows.

But I’ll say this: I am so encouraged that we are praying these Five First Saturdays at this moment in history, when once again Russia is spreading death and destruction. When Russia is again spreading her errors, bringing suffering and death to the poor people of Ukraine.

To this, Mary offers us yet another “if…then” promise:

“If my wishes are fulfilled, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace. If not, then Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, bringing new wars and persecution of the Church.”

It is my sincere prayer that our devotion to these Five First Saturdays will help contribute to the end of the current conflict in Ukraine — that it will actually help protect and defend the innocent civilians, the women and children, the priests and religious, the soldiers in harms way. 

And why shouldn’t our prayers be really truly helping them? Why can we not have such simple, direct, childlike faith? 

If we fulfill these Five First Saturdays in reparation for sins against the Immaculate Heart, then why can we not expect God’s amazing, beautiful promises to be answered in His time? 

Our prayers matter. In God’s Providence, He desires to work through our intercession. That is the stark reality. And if we don’t pray — then souls are sure to be lost.

At her July 13th appearance, Our Lady actually showed Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco a vision of Hell. Understandably, they were overwhelmed and horrified. What they saw was unspeakably awful — Countless human souls being dragged down into a “sea of fire,” by disgusting demons in the form of twisted, perverted animals — the souls were shrieking and groaning in pain and despair as they splashed into the fire… The children looked up to their mother, begging her to make the vision STOP

Then Mary told them point blank: “You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. It is to save them that God wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”

Here, we discover the beautiful Heart of our merciful God. He wants to save poor sinners. He wants to prevent anybody else from experiencing the sea of fire and despair. This is exactly what Jesus said in our Gospel today: “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”

Jesus desires that we all be saved in Him…

But that can happen IF…. If what?

Our Lady of Fatima told us: 

“If you do what I tell you, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.”