Saturday June 8, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Reading (Isaiah 61:9-11) Gospel (St. Luke 2:41-51)
The following homily was preached at a parish mission at St. Johnís Church in St. Paul, MN
In the Gospel reading today, we hear two very important statements right at the very end of the Gospel. First of all, Jesus went down to Nazareth and was obedient to them. If we just think for a moment about what that means, God Himself has made Himself obedient to His mother. God made Himself obedient to the authorities on a human level. When He chose to allow Himself to be born of the Virgin Mary and to be her Child, He also took on everything that was required with that, which meant following the Fourth Commandment perfectly, as He would do. The thing we must understand about the Fourth Commandment is that it is usually misunderstood. That is, we translate it normally as "Honor your mother and your father". The word that is there in Hebrew would be better translated not as "honor" but as "glorify" - "Glorify your mother and your father." It is precisely that that Our Lord did. He glorified His mother and glorified her perfectly as no other child has ever been able to do.
But not only did He glorify her on earth, He has now glorified her in Heaven. And that is the second phrase we need to look at because it says that Mary treasured all of these things in her heart and pondered them as only a mother is able to do: to hold of all of these things of her children in her heart, to carry them with her wherever she goes, and to ponder all of the truths about all of her children. When Our Lady pondered all the mysteries of her Son, she also understood that in her Son was kept every single creature that He had made, and most importantly, every single person who would be incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ because she would be their mother as well. And so in this mystery of Our Lady meditating upon these things that she held in her heart, we must understand that she held each one of us in her heart as she held her Son in her heart because we are members of the Son of God. Each one of us are children of Our Blessed Lady.
When we hear about the way that Our Lord was when He was speaking with the teachers, we hear that they were all astounded. Even Our Lady and Saint Joseph, when they found Jesus, were astonished at what they found. Now, most mothers do not want to be astonished at their children, and I would recommend that we do not go out of our way to see if we can astound Our Blessed Lady. But rather what we should do, if we are going to astound her, is do it in a positive way and that is by doing exactly what Our Lord did. That is, to be obedient, to go with her and be obedient to her, and to glorify her in all things because that is what He has done. He glorified her on earth and He has glorified her now in Heaven.
In Heaven, before the throne of Almighty God, she intercedes for each one of us. She holds each one of us in her Immaculate Heart and she prays for her children. If we will give ourselves to her, she will also lead us most perfectly just as she formed and led her Son. We could not choose a better mother to form us and to lead us, to teach us the way we are supposed to live and the way we are supposed to act. She is the model for us, but she is more than just a model: She is our mother. Each one of us [needs] to know that we can turn to her and there we will find a maternal heart which is completely open to each one to be able to bear our sorrows, to be able to hear our concerns, to listen to us, and to ponder all of these things in her heart.
That is what this beautiful Immaculate Heart will do for us. She will take all of our concerns and all of our prayers and bring them to the Sacred Heart of her Son, and there she will intercede on our behalf. Before her Son and before the heavenly Father, Our Ladyís prayers are the most powerful prayers in the universe because there is no stain of sin, even from the first moment of her existence. We need to consider that from the first instant Our Lady existed in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne, she had a holiness already which was greater than that of the greatest angels. It was greater than all of the saints who would ever live in the history of the world combined. At this point she was only physically a microscopic entity, but her soul was already holier than all of the saints who would ever walk the face of the earth. At every instant of her life, she grew in holiness; she was able to love God more. She understood more of the mysteries of the divine truths which had been revealed to her, and she was able to grow in grace and love at every single second of her life. If she started out with a greater holiness than everything else, except God, combined, we cannot even begin to fathom the holiness of this incredible woman whom we have the privilege of calling "Mother". So the prayers of our beautiful mother for each one of us are beyond what all of Heaven and earth combined would be able to do for us.
And so, we turn to her and we beg her prayers. We know that, being a mother, she will not reject us. And being the best of mothers, we then begin to understand, even just a little bit, the immense love she has for each one of us. We know that, as a mother, she will go before the throne of God and she will pray for us, for only what is the very best for us, and she will lead us to her Son. We need to learn, then, from His example to be obedient to her. Remember that when it came time for Our Lordís public life to begin it was at the prompting of His mother. Once again, He was obedient to her. Our Lady was able to recognize that His hour had now come. She knows exactly what is the best for each one of us as well. She knows when the hour has arrived when God wants something from each one of us, and she, in her gentle, maternal way, will prompt us so that we will know that the time has come to answer Godís call.
The only question is whether we have the ears to listen and the will to obey. The Holy Spirit wanted us to know only one thing about the hidden life of Jesus Christ; that is, He was obedient to His mother. Saint Louis de Montfort tells us that that order has not changed in Heaven. Even now, the Lord remains obedient to His mother because she will never ask anything which is in opposition to the Will of God. He is perfectly obedient to His mother as she is perfectly obedient to Him - a wonderful exchange that all works for our good and for the greater glory of God. So turn to your mother, who holds you in her heart and ponders the mysteries that God has placed there. You are one of those mysteries that God has put into her Immaculate Heart. There, she ponders you, she prays for you, and she has only one desire: that you would be a saint in this world and that you would be able to be with her, worshiping and glorifying her Son, in Heaven for all eternity.
*This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.