Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is certainly the companion to yesterday’s feast of the Sacred Heart. Clearly, the connection is the human hearts of Jesus and Mary. Today’s feast is not about theology or the church. It is, rather, about the human heart that symbolizes the power of life, the center of passion, the source of love and commitment. And, the hearts of Jesus and Mary above all others reveal to us the very heart of God who is love.
We often tend to idealize Mary’s experience as a Mother. After all, Jesus must have been the "perfect" son! Yet, in the Gospel for today, we are reminded that being someone’s Mother is always filled with mystery, misunderstanding, hurt and sorrow. Mary and Joseph are clearly frightened when they can’t find Jesus. When they finally find him after a three-day search, the response Jesus gives them was not particularly satisfying. The Gospel only comments, "his mother kept all these things in her heart." That was the first of many occasions when Mary was confused and frightened by the actions of Jesus.
Yet, as Mary lives out her life, we witness the pure love of a Mother for her Son, but even more importantly, the love of the perfect follower of Jesus. It is her total love of God that opens her to the request that she be the Mother of God’s Son. It is her total love of Jesus that supports her through the heart-wrenching experience of watching her son rejected, brutalized, condemned and killed. It is her undying love of those Jesus loved that makes her the central support of the early Christian community and all those who desire to follow Jesus.
An immaculate heart is an unwavering heart, a generous heart, a courageous heart, a totally faithful heart. May Mary’s love of Jesus and the followers of Jesus, support us as we struggle with our faltering hearts!
Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P. ([email protected]) is the director of lay formation for Holy Cross Province and is stationed at Immaculate Conception Retreat in Chicago.