Tuesday July 16, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Reading I (1 Kings 18:42b-45a) Reading II (Galatians 4:4-7)
Gospel (St. John 19:25-27)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord tells us that Mary is our mother. Thanks be to Him, He has also pointed out to Our Lady that we are her children. And the disciple, we are told, took her into his home. That is precisely what is required of each one of us. Now we can ask ourselves, "Why do we say such a thing, that Mary is our mother?" People will say, "Well, it was to the beloved disciple that Jesus did that; it wasn't for each one of us." But the fact is that each one of us is a beloved disciple, and each one of us is to have Mary as our mother.
Saint Paul makes the same point very clear in the reading that we heard from his Letter to the Galatians: "God has sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law to free from the law those who were subject to it." And for what purpose? So that we might become the children of God. It says that God has made us sons, and if we are sons we are also heirs. We are an heir of Heaven, an heir of God Himself. If we are sons of God, because we are members of Jesus Christ, we are children, then, of the same woman, born of the same woman. Not born physically of the same woman, but born spiritually of the same woman.
Now, once again, one could ask, "How can that be said?" It has to do completely with the nature of a covenant. Each one of us who is baptized into Jesus Christ is a member of Christ; we know that. If we are a member of Jesus Christ, sharing in His life, then we are children of our heavenly Father. For that reason, Saint Paul says that we can cry out "Abba, Father!" But if we are members of Christ and can call God our Father, then we are members of the same Christ who is the Son of Mary and we can cry out "Emma, Mother!" We can call her our mother.
We see this exact same point in the first reading. Elijah sends his servant Gehazi up to look out over the sea seven times. In Hebrew the word "seven" is sheba. We always hear that seven means it is a perfect number. But the word "seven" (in Hebrew sheba) means "a covenant". So on the seventh time, Gehazi sees the cloud rising up out of the sea, the cloud that is going to bring the rain that ends the drought that had been for three years and is going to water the earth. That cloud has been recognized as Our Lady, the one who brings the rain, the one who brings the dew to our parched and lifeless souls to be able to bring forth new life. It is the covenant. Jesus is the covenant carried in the womb of Our Lady just as the rain is carried in the cloud and then bursts forth upon the earth. So too, Our Lady is the one who carries that covenant of Our Lord and brings Him to each one of our souls.
This is exactly what Our Lord is talking about. His mother is the one who has carried Him and carried us spiritually. It is His mother who has borne each one of us spiritually. It is His mother, then, in this way that has brought us into the covenant. And as members of the covenant, we are children of God and children of Mary, we are sharers in the life of Jesus Christ, we are heirs of God and heirs of eternity. Therefore, we can call Mary our mother. We can recognize that the life we have been given in Christ is a life that God gives through Our Lady. And so as Jesus looks down from the Cross - and each one of us is to be standing at the foot of that Cross united with Him in His suffering - He looks at each one of us and says those beautiful words: "Behold, your mother."
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.