(At the end of her Apparition at La Salette, Mary) began to walk... She took a few steps alongside the brook, then turned in the direction of the Collet, stepped on a stone in the midst of the brook and passed beyond. At two feet from the stream, without turning back towards us, she said a second time, again in French: "Well, my children you will make this known to all my people!"
Slowly she walked up the nearby slopes which led to higher ground. We crossed the brook after her. She was now in front of us at a distance of one or two steps. We followed her. She walked, I saw her feet moving as she glided over the tips of the grass without touching it. She walked along without saying anything further, then made two turns before reaching the summit.
At La Salette, on the abrupt slope of the Sezia ravine, this ascent of the Virgin was a deliberate and meaningful gesture. The Beautiful Lady, after her discourse, could just as easily have "melted into the light” in the hollow of the dale where she had appeared. Should we not, then, do as Maximin and Melanie did: set out on the path which mounts and follow Mary "very closely"?
The Pilgrim Walks with Christ
The pilgrim who in the spring of 1847 was inspired to mount this same slope, while making the Stations of the Cross, understood the meaning of that march. And many others since. "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him renounce himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me!" (Luke 9:23). Mary here recalls the Gospel to us in its most exacting demand, which is to set out without delay and follow in the footsteps of Christ.
One of the characteristic traits constantly mentioned about Jesus is that he was a man on the march: "He went about, doing good" (Acts 10:38). The evangelists show him journeying from Galilee to Jerusalem. There was at the same time that his interior was journeying the rugged path of his search and mission, until he took the last steps which led him up to Mount Calvary, to the cross, and to his last breath which sent the Holy Spirit on us.
The Gospel of Mark insists on the fact that not only was he a man on the move, but he untiringly inspired by those he met to be on the march. Jesus was alone only twice, when he sent his disciples on a mission tour, and when the ordeal of the Passion caused them to scatter. Is it then surprising that his words, heard today from the mouth of the now Risen Christ, are a call and a mission which concern us all and each one individually?
"Come and see... Come, follow me... Seek first the kingdom of God with a free and unencumbered heart... Why are you fearful? Walk with me through every storm... I am he who comes... Come unto me... Go, your sins are forgiven you... Go, your faith has made you whole... Go and report what you have seen – the good news is being announced to the poor... Get up, and fear not!... It is I who send you: enter into life, give freely, welcome and pardon, be vigilant and pray... Go and make disciples of all nations."
A man standing, a human on the march... in behalf of a people standing, a people also on the march. For that is the whole point: we must set out in the company of Christ, of him who knows the Presence calling and awaiting us.
Formerly, it was walking on the exodus from Mount Sinai; today it is our personal and collective exodus, leading us towards that just and fraternal world which God wants to bring about for humanity and in union with him. In each case the exodus is a prophetic gesture, a carrier of God's word.
Christians, then, are not people who are seated and motionless, but people on their feet and ready to march forward. But we don’t walk alone, we go forward with an entire people following in the footsteps of Christ.
Vigilant, attentive to the Spirit and the events through which he speaks to us – attentive likewise to others who are the multiplied face of Christ – let us go forward without looking back. Many are the situations, many the aptitudes, many the possible commitments we can make: but Christ always remains The Way.The Virgin followed him. Let us in turn follow him – closely!