June 4, 2016

Mary's Immaculate Heart

June 4, 2016:  Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary

  • 'Heart' tie bar:  Immaculate Heart of Mary; Mary kept these things in her heart (gospel)
  • 'Crown' tie bar:  The crown of righteousness awaits me (1st reading)
  • Blue, green, and white shirt:  "Blessed Mother blue"; green for Ordinary Time season, white for today's celebration
  • 'Runner' tie pin:  I've finished the race (1st reading)
  • 'Musical note' tie pin:  I'll sing of your salvation (psalm)
  • '?' tie pin:  Jesus was listening to the teachers and asking them questions; other questions (gospel)


Pope Francis:  The Vessel of Mercy
The vessel of mercy is our sin; it's like a sieve or leaky bucket from which grace drains.  “My people have forsaken me... and dug out cracked cisterns that can't hold water.”  So the Lord had to teach Peter to “forgive seventy times seven.”  God never stops sowing his mercy and forgiveness.  God's mercy is always greater than our consciousness of our sinfulness.  The Lord never tires of forgiving us; he renews the wineskins in which we receive that forgiveness.  That wineskin is mercy itself:  his mercy that we experience and then show to others.  A heart that's known mercy is new and re-created;   “a pure heart create for me, O God.”  That heart is a good vessel, no longer leaky.  “God wonderfully created the universe, then more wonderfully re-created it in the redemption.”  Our hearts have been created anew, shown mercy, and show mercy.  Grace is poured on our wounds and sinfulness; mercy assuages guilt, waters aridity, and rekindles hope.  When we forgive and show compassion to others, mercy takes root in good soil, where water sinks in and gives life.  The best practitioners of this mercy are those who know they're forgiven and sent to help others.  Almost all the great saints were great sinners or knew that it was by sheer grace that they weren't. 
The real vessel of mercy is the mercy we received and that created in us a new heart.  This is the “new wineskin,” the “healed sore.”  Here we enter more deeply into the mystery of the Jesus, the Father’s mercy incarnate, and find the icon of the vessel of mercy in the wounds of the risen Lord that remind us that the traces of our sins, forgiven, never completely heal or disappear.  Scars don't hurt but do remind us of our wounds.  God’s mercy is in those scars, and they show us the meaning of sin and grace.  His heart, and ours are both wounded and risen; his was wounded because it willed to be so, ours was healed because it allowed it.
We can benefit from contemplating others who let their hearts be re-created by mercy and by seeing the “vessel” in which they received mercy:
Paul received mercy in his harsh judgment.  Mercy so changed him that he sought those far off and showed great understanding and mercy.  Paul didn't judge himself but let God justify him; he appealed to Jesus as faithful advocate nothing could separate him from.  He radically understood God’s mercy.  The “thorn” the Lord didn't take away from him was the vessel in which he received the Lord’s mercy.
Peter received mercy in presuming to be a man of good sense.  He got carried away with himself and realized he had to ask for Jesus' help.  He was healed of the deepest wound, of denying his friend.  Then he became a merciful pastor, a solid rock.  Jesus constantly corrects him in the gospel.  Peter didn't want to end his life saying, “I learned the lesson,” but, “Since my head is never going to get it right, I'll put it on the bottom.”  He put on top the feet the Lord washed, the vessel in which he received the Lord's mercy.
John was healed in his pride.  This “son of thunder” ended up writing to his “little children” as a kind grandfather speaks of love.  Augustine was healed in his regret for being a latecomer.  He made up for lost time by writing his Confessions.  Francis experienced mercy at many points in his life:  kissing the leper, marrying Lady Poverty, feeling every creature's brother, and silently watching over the Order he founded, divided under the banner of poverty.  Ignatius was healed in his vanity; his yearning for pride was re-created in his efforts to seek God's greater glory.  Often our work remains unfinished, so being at peace with that is a grace.  We can let things go so the Lord can bless and perfect them.
Mary is the perfect vessel that receives and bestows mercy.  Her yes is the opposite of the sin that led to the prodigal son's downfall.  Her mercy is hers, ours, and the Church's.  She sees the working of this mercy, feels embraced by it, and treasures it; she sees each person with a mother’s mercy.  Her gaze gives us courage to open our hearts to God’s mercy, makes us feel her embrace, shows us only God's tenderness can win human hearts.  People seek in her a resting place, a home.  She can remove our cataracts that prevent us from seeing Christ in others, the myopia that doesn't see others' needs, and the hyperopia that misses the details, the “fine print” where the truly important things are.
Mary gazes “by weaving,” finding a way to bring good out of all the things people lay at her feet.  How is God weaving our soul and the life of the Church?  The Guadalupe miracle was not only that the image was imprinted but that the cloak was transformed.  God’s mercy does the same thing:  it doesn't airbrush reality but with the threads of our poverty and sinfulness, with the Father’s love, weaves us so we're renewed and recover our true image, the image of Jesus.  Imitate this freedom of God, who chooses the humble to reveal his majesty; imitate his patience by weaving with the thread of those you encounter.  
Mary’s gaze is of complete attention.  She's all ears.  We need to realize each person who looks for God is unique and open our hearts to them.  Mary’s gaze is all-embracing, bringing past, present, and future together.  Mercy can see things as a whole and grasp what is most necessary.
Mary is the Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.  She enables us to drink in the kindness we hunger for and to find Jesus in others.  In her we glimpse the Kingdom of mercy already present.  Beneath her gaze we can proclaim the Lord's greatness.  Lord, you have looked with favor on your servant's humility.  I'm so blessed to be forgiven.  I want to be loved as one of your little ones and feed all who hunger for you.  May we be the sign of your mercy.
  • 2 Tm 4:1-8  Proclaim the word whether convenient or not; convince, reprimand, and encourage.  People will start to follow their own desires and curiosity, accumulate teachers, stop listening to the truth, and be diverted to myths.  Be self-possessed, put up with hardship, and fulfill your ministry.  I'm being poured out; the time of my departure is at hand.  I've competed well, finished the race, and kept the faith.  A crown awaits me; the Lord will award it to me and to all who have longed for his appearance.
  • Ps 71:8-9, 14-15b, 16-17, 22  "I will sing of your salvation."  Don't forsake me.  I'll hope and praise you and declare your justice.  You've taught me from my youth.  I'll give you thanks with music....
  • Lk 2:41-51  When Jesus was 12, as his parents were returning from Jerusalem, Jesus remained behind, but his parents didn't realize it.  When they didn't find him in the caravan, they returned to look for him.  In three days they found him in the temple, astounding the teachers.  His parents were astonished.  His mother said, “Why have you done this to us?  We've been looking for you anxiously.” / “Why were you looking for me?  Didn't you know I must be in my Father’s house?”  They didn't understand.  He went down with them to Nazareth and obeyed them, and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
      The Heart of Mary/ Kupelwieser
    • Creighton:   Today we celebrate Mary's single-heartedness.  Sin divides our heart  between self and God,  We risk making Mary distant and inimitable.  Mary faced situations she didn't understand, e.g. the Nativity, today's gospel, Simeon’s prophecy, Jesus' words at the Cana wedding feast and when he asks who is my mother, and at the foot of the cross.  But she went on without understanding, pondering in her heart.  Her single-heartedness was based on trust, not external evidence.  Her pondering without understanding led her to not needing to understand.  Being sure speaks of understanding, based on evidence; being assured speaks of an inner stance, based on trust.  Mary was assured, even when not sure; she was steeped in a trust born of her pondering heart.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Stay with this task":  God sends his disciples to proclaim and teach his word, to stay with this task.  God will make disciples who carry his word.  Put up with hardship, perform your work as an evangelist....
    • Passionist:  Mary’s heart is a mother’s heart, full of love, understanding, and courage, even in the midst of the joys, challenges, and suffering of parenthood.  Mary's love reaches across time and space to us. She helps us love.  With Mary and Paul, may we treasure Jesus' life shared with us, along with those who have helped that faith grow; may we run the race and be true evangelists...
    • DailyScripture.net:  “His mother kept all these things in her heart”:  Mary and Joseph must have felt anxious and helpless when Jesus disappeared, but they returned confident that God would guide them.  Just as Samuel heard the Lord's call, young Jesus recognized his Father had called him.  His answer reveals his faith and determination to pursue his Father's will.  Didn't you know I must be in my Father's house?  Our Father calls each of us and gives the grace to say yes and persevere.
    • Universalis:  Immaculate Heart of Mary devotion began as early as the 12th century.  Later, St. John Eudes popularized it with that to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Mary shows us how to listen to the Spirit and respond in faith.

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