The Immaculate Heart of Mary
The Immaculate Heart – a Tender and Real Heart
Today we celebrate the Immaculate Heart of Mary. With yesterday’s celebration of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus we have a beautiful couplet. The origin of the feasts can be found in St. John Eudes’ (1680) devotion to the hearts of Jesus and Mary.
The readings for the 9th Saturday from Timothy and Mark show responses of the heart. The poor widow who gives from her heart is a fitting and the final weekday reading from Mark’s gospel. Monday we will begin reading Matthew. The readings for the Immaculate Heart of Mary give us the finding of Jesus in the temple from Luke.
Caryll Houselander expresses in a few words the meaning of the first part of the couplet, the Sacred Heart, ‘we are called to love others, those who do not love us, all sinners, because Jesus loves all, even those who hurt and despise him. Our hearts are to grow to the size of the heart of Jesus, full of the love of all. In the love of Jesus for us we want to love as Jesus loves.
Does it seem easier to feel and respond to the heart of Jesus that is full of boundless love than to respond with affection to an “Immaculate Heart”? Perhaps we see Mary the dawn and Christ the perfect day, Jesus the bright sun and Mary the shadowed moon? Mary the quiet woman who like the ‘reed of God’ (Caryll Houselander) is open to receive the breath of God, God’s will
In this vein today’s feast may draw us to the love of Mary, by her not calling love to herself but to her Son. Mary our mother, humble and empty before God, teaches us how we are to love God. She directs us not to herself but to her Son, such is her love. A love to imitate. Our love grows from Mary’s yes to God, her will, her Immaculate Heart. Our love for God grows as we honor Mary today.
Augustine says, Mary was more blessed having borne Jesus in her heart than in having carried him in the flesh. It is dangerous to take quotes out of context. But with Augustine’s thought, and hearing how Mary leads us to God’s love can we lose sight of the heart part of the Immaculate Heart of Mary? Can we get too heady? The abstract idea of ‘will’ becomes visible in the mess, joy, tears and touches, the shoves and embraces of daily life. The gospel tells a story that we step into, there we can join with Mary. Maybe we can use two women’s insight so we do not dissect love too much. May I conclude by offering a quote from a book published in 1945 by Maise Ward and Caryll Houselander, “The Splendor of the Rosary”.“[Finding] …Through Mary, seeking her lost son, may we be given grace always to seek for the Christ Child and always to find him. Let us find him in all children, and in all who have a child’s needs – the helpless, the sick, the simple, the aged; in all who serve and are trusting and poor; in all who are lonely or homeless. Let us too become as little children to find the Divine Child in our own hearts.” Mary is leading us to her son with a human heart full of love. That woman we love and want to love like her as she leads us to her Son.
Fr. William Murphy, CP is the pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Jamaica, New York.