Shaped by the word of God that became incarnate within her, Mary came to know in the most personal way the power, compassion and suffering of Our Lord. This is also our call, for Christ shows to us, as He did to Thomas, the still visible marks of his wounds. In our suffering world, reconciliation and healing can happen when former opponents come together to acknowledge the harm that has been done and to decide a just resolution, Truth and Reconciliation Commissions instituted in various countries following genocide and civil war and Restorative Justice processes within some schools and parts of the justice system have followed this model. Let us as individuals entrust ourselves to God's mercy, acknowledging the wounds we have received and the wounds we have caused, so we may know and share Christ’s peace.
After that heart-wrenching moment on Calvary when Jesus commended Mary to John's care and named Mary to be mother to John and to all the church, the Gospel makes no mention of Our Lady. Surely her mother's heart was pierced by sorrow as Simeon had prophesied when she brought her infant son to the temple. In those first confusing hours after the death of Jesus, we can imagine that Mary wondered how God's Word that had taken flesh in her womb would bring about the promised kingdom Jesus had preached. And then the testimonies began. The tomb is empty and Jesus has appeared to Mary Magdalen, to some of the apostles, to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Christ’s hour had come; He had been lifted up to lift all of us. That first Easter Monday, the ancient world looked no better than ours: people suffered; nations and families were divided, but believers’ hopes rise now as then with the Risen One. Let us like the servants at Cana bring our empty jars-- our empty selves -- to the Lord that we may receive and share his fullness.
Good Friday As we approach Holy Week, scripture invites us to stand with Mary at the foot of the cross. How impossibly long that Calvary morning must have seemed to Mary, Mother of Sorrows and model of strength! Two thousand years later, the world still cries out in lamentation. Erected as a safety measure in Miami, Florida, a still unopened pedestrian bridge, collapsed onto a highway, killing some and injuring many. In Salisbury, England, former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were killed by a chemical agent; British authorities suspect Russian involvement. A helicopter crashed in Iraq, killing seven United States service members.. Each day's headlines sound another call to mourning. In solidarity with Mary, our mother, let us as one with and in the Lord commend our sorrows and ourselves into the Father's hands.
How hard those last months of Jesus’ life must have been for Mary, knowing that as her son's popularity increased so did the jealousy of people in authority. With his dying breath, Jesus commended Mary to John’s care and named her mother of us all. Mary’s children -- our brothers and sisters -- continue to suffer. On February 23rd, Russia’s objections delayed voting on a long-argued United Nations proposal that would have established a 30-day cease-fire in Syria, allowing humanitarian aid to be delivered to the people of Eastern Ghouta, where, in a five-day aerial assault, 470 people, including 150 children, were killed and over 2000 wounded. Without food, medicine and evacuation of the most gravely wounded more will die. Perhaps by the time you are reading this, the cease-fire will have taken effect, but a suffering world still awaits our attention. Lent reminds us that Jesus entered into our life with all its joys and suffering and that he entered us into his mission to give all people fullness of life. Let us by prayer, thought and deed choose life for ourselves and others.
The Presentation of Christ When Mary and Joseph, presented Jesus at the temple as prescribed by the law, Simeon gave thanks to God for Jesus, “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel” and then predicted Mary’s sorrows. Some of the sorrows came early: the flight to Egypt to escape Herod’s lethal jealousy and then the anxious search Mary and Joseph made when at 12, Jesus stayed behind in his “father's house.” We can all relate to the panic of not being able to contact a relative or friend or losing sight of a child in a crowd. With the end of DACA, (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and TPS (Temporary Protected Status) for immigrants from ten countries, many of our neighbors are facing possible separation from family members, spouses and friends.Having registered as required, these people now seem particularly vulnerable. Let us pray and work for a just and compassionate solution that serves these immigrants and our nation.
The Arrival of The Magi: Mary must have been both pleased and startled at the arrival of the magi. Strangers from a distant land, these astrologers had read in the stars God's good news that a king had been born, and they did not hesitate to undertake the long arduous journey to give homage to this new leader. The contrasts between Mary and her wealthy, learned visitors could not have been greater, and yet both had responded to God’s promptings. Are we like the Magi, responsive to God's calls to action that come from the world around us? Soil erosion, air pollution, water scarcity and climate change are among the many aspects of ecology that require our consideration. On an individual level, are we mindful of generating waste and making efforts to recycle? As Pope Francis reminded us in Laudato Si, “The world is a gift we have freely received and must share with others.”
Hail Mary: We always have people in our lives who we need to pray for. No doubt you have a list the same as I do. Sometimes it helps me if I think of three specific intentions which become a ritual for me. That way it becomes a discipline. Here is a tradition that I remember from my days as a pastor: We asked everyone to wait until the last hymn was over and then kneel quietly and privately say three “Hail Marys.” The intentions were the same each time we gathered for our celebration of Eucharist. The intentions for these prayers are: 1) For all those who have ministered the sacraments to us. 2) For our parents living or deceased. 3) For someone in our family who is not practicing the faith.
Mary Mother of God: For many non-Catholics the title that we use for Mary “Mother of God” seems impossible. We do not believe that Mary is divine. She is a human being like you and I who needs the grace from God to do everything. The church from its early beginnings has used this title for Mary and reserved for her this special honor. Since Jesus, the Son of God, became one of us through Mary, we rightfully call Mary the Mother of God. Since we are brothers and sisters of the Lord, the Body of Christ, we can also rightfully call Mary our mother. From the cross Jesus said to the apostle John: “Behold your mother.” Perhaps the most beautiful title that the church uses for Mary is “our blessed Mother.”
Our Lady of The Rosary: I am not sure if I am alone in this dilemma but when I try to say the Rosary at night I most often fall asleep. Now when I say the rosary I approach it differently. Now I use each “Hail Mary” for someone in my family or a friar that I lived within the past or perhaps a list of students who were part of my teaching days. Somehow I never fall asleep with this simple method of prayer.