THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for December 18th, 2013
Liturgical texts here
WHEN Joseph learned that Mary was “found with child”, today’s Gospel says he set about to “divorce her quietly.”
How many today quietly “divorce” themselves from the Mother of God! How many say, “I can go to straight to Jesus. Why do I need her?” Or they say, “The Rosary is too long and boring,” or, “Devotion to Mary was a pre-Vatican II thing that we no longer need to do…”, and so forth. I too pondered the question of Mary many years ago. With a sweat on my brow, I poured over the Scriptures asking “Why do we Catholics make such a big deal of Mary?”
The answer, I began to see, is because Jesus makes a big deal of Mary. I have written several times about the Blessed Mother’s role, not only in these times, but in all times of the Church’s growth, from its conception at the Cross, to its birth at Pentecost, to its growing into “full stature” in these and the times to come. I have added some of those writings below in Related Reading to challenge, encourage, and lay to rest some of the fears surrounding this “Woman.” (You can also click the MARY link on the sidebar here to read dozens of my writings related to her.)
But all the reading and studying in the world on Mary cannot substitute for doing what Joseph did in today’s Gospel: “he took his wife into his home.” Have you welcomed Mary into your heart? Yes, I know, this may sound funny—even heretical, since we are used to the language of “inviting Jesus into your heart.” But Mary? Well, when you do as Joseph did, welcoming the Holy Virgin to cross the threshold of your life, your activities, your prayer, your crosses… you are at once welcoming the unborn Christ child within her womb. To invite Mary into your heart and home is to welcome Jesus, because where she is, there He is.
You can only discover this by doing it! Take it from someone who feared that he may be impeding the Holy Spirit by any kind of attention to Mary. But I want to say this to you in all seriousness. I really believe it is Our Lady who is helping me to write these words—all of them, over 800 writings here. My mind is blank, truly a broken, clay vessel. And I say to her, “Mother, help me to write Jesus’ words, not my own.” And then the words come almost immediately. And what does she have me saying to you? Love Jesus! Love Him, worship Him, trust Him, give Him everything, hold nothing back! Isn’t that the summary of it all here, even implied in the more difficult writings that deal with the “signs of the times”?
Do you really need to hear me say again, “She is your mother. She is all about Jesus.”? Then let me say it again: she is all about Jesus! As it says in the first reading today, all about making Him “reign and govern wisely” in your heart. As Queen Mother, her concern is to make Jesus King in your life.
And what happened when Joseph invited her and the Christ child into his home? They turned the place upside down! All of a sudden Joseph was setting out with them on long, treacherous journeys. He had to rely totally on Divine Providence rather than on his own ingenuity. He entered the realm of mysticism, of visions and dreams. He began to experience the storms of persecution that rise against the “woman clothed with the sun, about to give birth to a child.” He had to flee, trust, live in exile, and go searching and seeking for the Son when He seemed lost. Most of all, St. Joseph discovered that precisely by welcoming Mary into his home, he was given the gift of contemplating the face of Jesus.
Oh yes, this will all happen in your life too if you welcome the Mother and Child into your heart. Mary is not the docile statuette we have made her out to be at times. She is a woman who crushes the head of a serpent! She is out to make saints, because she knows that holy men and women alone can renew humanity. “All are called to holiness, and holy people alone can renew humanity.” —BLESSED JOHN PAUL II, World Youth Day Message for 2005, Vatican City, Aug. 27th, 2004, Zenit.org So she comes, with Jesus, and together, Mother and Child turn your life upside down. They reveal your brokenness so it can be healed; sin so it can be forgiven; weakness so it can be strengthened; gifts so they can be given; true nature, so that you can be seated with Christ in the heavens and reign with Him. cf. Eph 2:6 How do they do this? By leading you on the same path of Joseph… one of complete and radical abandonment to the Father.
Devotion to Mary is not a matter of rattling off this prayer or saying that novena, although they may nurture and sustain devotion. Rather, devotion to Mary is taking her by the hand, opening one’s heart and saying,
Jesus gave you to me beneath the Cross as my Mother. Like John then, I wish to take you into my home. Like Joseph, I welcome you and Jesus into my heart. Like Elizabeth, I invite you to stay with me. But like the innkeeper in Bethlehem, I have only a poor and humble abode for you to rest in. So come, Blessed Mother, come into my heart with Jesus, and make of it a true home and refuge. Come and re-arrange the furniture, that is, my old habits. Toss out the garbage of my past. Hang upon my heart’s walls the icons of your virtue. Lay down upon these cold planks of self-love the carpets of God’s will that I may walk only in His ways. Come Mother, and nurture me at the bosom of Grace, that I may suckle of the wisdom, understanding, and counsel of which Jesus drank when you held Him in your arms. Come Mother, and let me follow you. Let me love you. Let me learn from you, so that I may love and follow Jesus better. And above all, help me to see Him, that I may contemplate the Face of Love who is my life, my breath, my everything.
And when you speak to her in this way, when you entrust (consecrate) yourself to her like this, she gathers up her robes, mounts the donkey of her own humility, and with Joseph makes her way into your life… so that she may help Jesus to be born again in you. So, as it says in today’s Gospel, “Do not be afraid to take Mary… into your home.“
For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save. (Today’s Psalm, 72)
I was sitting in front of a statue of Our Lady of Fatima on a visit to
California. This statue has wept many times, her cheeks now stained with
aromatic oil. As I sat there with my guitar, this song came to me…
To order “Sweet Blessed Mother” from the album Vulnerable,
click on the album cover below.
- Do I need her? Read The Great Gift
- The key to Mary that unlocks the Scriptures: Key to the Woman
- Our Lady’s powerful intercession in a dark moment: A Miracle of Mercy
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