Filed under: Biblical Reflections, How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Mother of the Lord, Prayer
In the second chapter of Luke we are told on four different occasions how Mary (and Joseph) react and feel about words and events surrounding the birth, infancy and childhood of Jesus. Luke thus introduces us to the overlapping and harmonizing psychology and spirituality of Mary (and Joseph). This is instructive for the modern everyday Christian.
The angels appear to poor uneducated shepherds and entrust to them a proclamation for the entire world, for all time. The shepherds go down the hill and find the manger, and start recounting the words spoken to them about this Child; “all who heard it wondered”. Then the next verse, “But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2.19).
Eight days later, Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the Temple. The holy man Simeon is inspired by the Holy Spirit to go to the Temple and speak to them about the Child. Luke specifically tells us that Joseph and Mary “marveled at what was said about him (the Child)” (Lk 2.33).
About twelve years later, Mary and Joseph bring the boy Jesus to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. Jesus becomes separated from them, and His parents seek “anxiously” for Him. After three days they find Him in the Temple and He was questioning and listening to the teachers. “All who heard him were amazed”. Luke then specifically says about Joseph and Mary; “And when they saw him they were astonished…” (Lk 2.48).
Luke continues to recount this story about the finding of the boy Jesus in the Temple, advises that they all returned to Nazareth and Jesus was obedient to His parents, then this; “…and Mary kept all these things in her heart” (Lk 2.51).
In the 2nd chapter of Luke’s Gospel we are given a glimpse into the spiritual and devotional life of Mary. (This follows up on the 1st chapter presentation of Mary’s Magnificat, which similarly offers a window into the soul of Mary.)
In the Manger and in Nazareth Mary ponders, contemplates in the depths of her heart. In the Temple Mary is awestruck; marveling with astonishment. Mary interiorizes the remarkable truths and teachings about Jesus Christ, she will learn from them, grow in them, mature through them.
Mary lives the Gospel events as no other could, as no other did. As John Paul II says of her, she is the “memory” of the Church, and indeed she will share these events and meanings with the Church in due course.
The Litany in Honor of Mary the First Christian summarizes the scriptural recounting of the numerous Gospel events lived and uniquely experienced by Mary in her lifelong relationship with her most beloved Son Jesus Christ.
Click here to order a free copy of Litany.
The Bishops of the U.S. are asking us to join them in prayer for our country in a campaign called the Fortnight of Freedom.
“The fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action will emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country have scheduled special events that support a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.” From the USSCB Website.
We would like to encourage everyone to get involved. Pray, fast, call your representatives in Washington to let them know how you feel about this issue.
It is interesting to note that this fortnight of freedom began on July 21 the vigil of the feast day for both St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher who were martyred for their faith. They were martyred because they would not accept the decrees of Henry the Eighth who in order to marry Anne Boleyn made himself head of the Church of England. Neither of these men would accede to his decrees and both went to their death rather than compromise their faith. Like them we are slowly but surely facing an uphill battle for our faith today. They are models for our us.
Many people have heard about St. Thomas More – but Bishop, St. John Fisher is less well known. One of my favorite observations about St. John Fisher was made by the inspirational Father Vincent McNabb in his biography about St. John Fisher, published in 1935. He writes:
“In reading the authentic records of how the Bishop (St. John Fisher) bore himself in his bishopric we are perhaps surprised to find him praised for qualities which might be expected of any good bishop. But as there are times of general moral depression when the average layman’s practice of the ten commandments demands heroic virtue, so there are circumstances when a bishop’s fidelity to the ordinary duties of his office argues the saint.”
It seems to us that many of the 10 commandments are at the forefront of our society’s most grave battles – moral battles about the dignity and value of human life and marriage. We can see that the 10 commandments were a divine gift intended to elevate human living and direct it towards God and virtue. So today, for believers to live according to the 10 commandments, in this time of moral crisis, is no small accomplishment. Let us encourage each other continually to meet this challenge of our time, seeking opportunities to lift up these and other noble moral principles which point towards the Culture of Life. And let us pray for our families and our children an join our Bishops in this Fortnight of Freedom.
To learn more or order click here.
June 15 was the feast day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We are featuring a quote from Father James Kubicki, S.J – National Director of the Apostleship of Prayer.
“St. Augustine and other Fathers of the Church liked to say that Mary first received the Word into her Immaculate Heart and then conceived the Word in her womb. In this new person were joined two natures – human and divine. The loving union of God with humanity had begun in a new and wonderful way, making possible every person’s union with God. He took flesh so that he could give his flesh to save humanity and to unite his flesh with ours. The Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) states, “By his incarnation, he, the Son of God, has in a certain way united himself with each man” (LG, 22).
Cell by cell, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, now uniting himself to our nature and our flesh, began to develop in the womb of his mother. Within 21 days his first organ appeared. His tiny physical heart began to beat under the heart of his mother. Over nine months he grew and developed as every baby does until at last he was born….His entire life on earth was a revelation of the love of God…”
Father James Kubicki, S.J. has a wonderful new book entitled A Heart on Fire – Rediscovering Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Father Kubicki is an extraordinary priest who is a frequent guest on Catholic radio and television – he is also a popular conference speaker, parish mission speaker and retreat director. Father Kubicki has been a great friend to our apostolate too – giving us support and encouragement.
A Heart on Fire is a book which will help rekindle devotion to the Sacred Heart – arguably the most important devotion for all Christians. Father Kubicki makes the Sacred Heart devotion understandable to the modern mind without downplaying its traditional beauty and power. This is an important book because understanding the love of Christ and its central role in our faith is what each Christian is truly striving to achieve. We highly recommend this book.
The Virgin and St. Joseph Refused Shelter in Bethlehem Jan Massys 1558
Jesus’ life is marked by uncertainty from the very moment of his birth. He is certainly accepted by the righteous, who echo Mary’s immediate and joyful “yes” (cf. Lk 1:38). But there is also, from the start, rejection on the part of a world which grows hostile and looks for the child in order “to destroy him” (Mt 2:13); a world which remains indifferent and unconcerned about the fulfilment of the mystery of this life entering the world: ‘there was no place for them in the inn’ (Lk 2:7). In this contrast between threats and insecurity on the one hand and the power of God’s gift on the other, there shines forth all the more clearly the glory which radiates from the house at Nazareth and from the manger at Bethlehem: this life which is born is salvation for all humanity (cf. Lk 2:11).” John Paul II, Gospel of Life #33
“The stable at Bethlehem is the first place for solidarity with man: for one man’s solidarity with another and for all men’s with all men, especially with those for whom there is “no room at the inn” (cf. Lk 2:7), whose personal rights are refused recognition.” John Paul II , 24 December 1978
A MORNING OFFERING
O my Jesus, I offer You my day for the unborn who have been rejected by our world. There is no room for them at the inn today. Like the unborn of our day, You and Your mother were turned away when Your hour to be born had come. Thank You for sharing in their rejection.
“Patience is a twofold grace, that of waiting and that of suffering, both are a great aid to zeal. The Eternal Word’s zeal for the salvation of men had existed in all its perfection and all its fullness from all eternity, yet think how long He waited! When the conditions were changed and He had at length become incarnate, He still waited patiently for nine months,and after that He waited for thirty years! This was zeal, zeal in its perfection. Is my zeal tempered with patience?” Mother St. Paul’s book Ortus Christi (published in 1921) .
A MORNING OFFERING
O My Jesus, grant me the grace of patience and zeal. Help me this Christmas to renew my intention to bring You to everyone I meet. May I look for ways to bring Your love to those in need. You came as a lovable child – may I learn to present your lovable face to others.
(click here to learn more about Nellie Edwards and her apostolate.)
“Now Mary’s Expectation was full of God, and therefore it was joyous. It had two intensities of joy in it: the intensity of created holiness thirsting for the sight of God; and the intensity of an earthly mother’s desire natural, simple, and human, but immensely sanctified to see the Face of her Babe, whom she knew to be God as well. ….Mary yearned for that earthly beatific Vision, the Face of the Incarnate God. She had doubtless intellectual visions, as mystics call them, of the beauty of the Sacred Humanity, before that night at Bethlehem. But these would rather increase the burning of her desire, than be a satisfaction to it…” Fr. Frederick W. Faber, D.D., Bethlehem
A MORNING OFFERING
O My Jesus, as Christmas approaches help me today to long to see your face. May everything I do today as I prepare for this wonderful feast be done with love. Help me choose to be cheerful even as I hurry through my day – cheerfulness that is rooted in the joy of the season.
“Christmas is the feast of man. A human being is born. He is one of the millions and millions of people who have been born, are being born and will be born on earth. A human being, one item in the vast range of statistics. It as not without reason that Jesus came into the world when a census ‘was being held, when a Roman emperor wanted to know the number of subjects in his territory. A human being is an object to be counted, something considered under the aspect of quantity, one of many millions. Yet at the same time he is a single being, unique and unrepeatable. If we celebrate with such solemnity the birth of Jesus, it is to bear witness that every human being (is) somebody unique and unrepeatable.” Urbi et Orbi Message of His Holiness John Paul II Christmas 1978
A MORNING OFFERING
O my Jesus, thank you for coming into this world as a man, for choosing to belong to the human race. Thank you for showing us the true worth of each person. As we celebrate your birth, may our respect for each human life increase.