Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Genesis 27:1-5, 15-29
Sometimes the religious world reveals its all too human frailty. We know that even today, the world is split apart by religious differences both among and within religious families. The Islamic faith and the Christian faith challenge one another for each one’s desired religious liberty and liberty of religious expression. Among Christians in the United States of America, the protection of human life at all of its stages and the guarantees for life sought from the governments of state and nation divide churches, and ultimately, divide families.
In choosing the readings for today’s "feast"/Memorial, the Church seems to give echo to one of our decidedly human maxims: "There’s no love like a mother’s love." Rebekah, wife to Isaac and mother of Jacob and Essau, very humanly bonds with her younger twin son, Jacob, while Isaac favors Essau, the huntsman and herder. Still the divine plan for the generation of the Messiah is fulfilled through the craftily arranged impersonation of Essau by his brother, Jacob. Jacob receives his father’s blessing, which is to carry on the promise given to his father, Abraham. A mother’s love is a formidable strength.
The Gospel asks us to consider Mary, mother of a twelve year old Jesus, who gets separated from his family which is in Jerusalem for the annual feast of Passover. Her mother’s heart is wounded by his being lost. It is not the first time that she fears for the life of her son. Probably, on the way to Bethlehem in the last weeks of pregnancy, she feared the stress of the journey and its effect on her unborn child. Shortly after the departure of the Magi, she feared for her son’s life as the Holy Family fled to Egypt. Now, in Jerusalem, she and Joseph search for their son. Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety. Finding their son among the elders in the Temple, the fear for him does not subside as she recognizes that he is no longer a young boy to have at home, but at twelve years of age, he is taking his place in the public sphere overseen by the Temple. Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?
…and his mother kept all these things in her heart. Mary is constant in her concern for her son, and appears so throughout the Gospel narratives.
Today, we believe Jesus’ words from the Cross, "behold your mother," (John 19,27) spoken to John the Beloved Apostle, are words that unite us to Mary’s loving and compassionate heart. She is our mother, whose heart is full of concern for each of us, who are inextricably bound to her son, Jesus, by baptism.
The manifold apparitions of Mary over the course of centuries repeatedly reveal her mother’s heart toward her children. In her apparitions to St Juan Diego, in Mexico, in 1531, she says explicitly, Do not be afraid. Am I not with you, who am your mother?
There is no love like a mother’s love; Mary’s maternal love for her son is graciously and generously shared with each one of us. Thanks be to God!
Fr. Arthur Carrillo begin_of_the_skype_highlightingend_of_the_skype_highlighting, C.P. is the director of the Office of Mission Effectiveness for Holy Cross Province. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.