LA SALETTE REFLECTION ON THE SUNDAY READINGS
NOTE 1: To understand these
it would be helpful to look at the readings for the Sunday indicated
(for example, using the web site: http://www.usccb.org/bible and clicking on the appropriate date in the calendar).
December 27, 2015: Comforting our Mother (Sirach 3:2-12; 1 John 3:1-24; Luke 2:41-52)
In the Book of Sirach, also known as Ecclesiasticus, there are lovely passages that elaborate, in a sense, on the Fourth Commandment, “You shall honor your father and your mother.” Today’s first reading has the phrase, “He who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.”
Perhaps the oldest English hymn to Our Lady of La Salette has the refrain:
I long to dry
In the “Memorare” to Our Lady of La Salette we ask that we may be able to console her by a holy life. In the “Consecration to Our Lady of La Salette,” we pray: “May I so live as to dry your tears and console your afflicted heart.”
This theme of seeking to comfort our Weeping Mother appears repeatedly in La Salette literature, homilies, websites. This should come as no surprise. It is the most natural thing in the world to try to comfort someone who is crying, especially someone we love.
But what if we are the cause of someone’s tears? That is the case at La Salette. “How long a time I have suffered for you,” the Beautiful Lady says, “and you take no heed.” How close these words come to those spoken by Mary to Jesus in the Gospel: “Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
Many a mother reading this can identify with the principal cause of Mary’s tears at La Salette—discord among her children.
Her people (who are the children given to her at the foot of the cross) abuse the name of her Son. They fail to take part in his Eucharist. Mary does not give a complete list, but indicates in broad lines the kinds of things that have created this division.
So, how do we console our Mother Mary and dry her tears? By turning to her Son, renewing and deepening our faith in him, participating as fully as we can in the life of the community of believers. To paraphrase Sirach, “Obeying the Son brings comfort to the Mother.”
January 3, 2016: Where is He? (Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-6; Matthew 2:1-12)
The Magi arrived in Jerusalem with a question, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?”
The question resounds through the ages, down to our time. The answer is not always the same from generation to generation, nor even necessarily from person to person.
We can find Bethlehem on a map, we can visit the Church of the Nativity and the Shepherds’ Field there, seeking the answer to the question, “Where was the newborn king?” As meaningful as such an experience may be, it doesn’t answer today’s question.
Nor is it adequate to answer that Jesus is now in heaven at the right hand of the Father. That is true, to be sure, but we remember that Jesus promised to be with us to the end of time.
A different approach might be more helpful. Instead of asking where Jesus is “out there,” the question could be, “where is he, within us, among us?”
That is the question that lies behind Our Lady’s Apparition at La Salette. It is as though she has been observing “her people” to see where Jesus is in their lives. To her disappointment, she cannot see him, except, as she says, in the religious practice of “a few elderly women.” Her Son, to whom she was and is so intimately united, has been neglected, even insulted, if not rejected, by so many others.
It makes one think of when Mary and Joseph lost Jesus in Jerusalem for three days. Mary’s feelings must be very similar as she looks at many parts of our world. Where has Jesus gone? Where is he? Where are the disciples? Why are they so few?
Jesus asked a similar question in Luke 18:8. “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
The message of Our Lady of La Salette, like the Gospel, often challenges us to examine the depth and constancy of our faith, and to consider what impact it really has, where Jesus really fits in our lives.
It’s a troubling question, but it needs to be asked.