Saturday June 28, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Reading (Isaiah 61:9-11) Gospel (St. Luke 2:41-51)
In the Gospel reading today, Saint Luke tells us that Our Lady held all of these things in her heart, all the mysteries of the things that she saw her Son doing. But long before she was able to hold these things in her heart, we hear from the prophet Isaiah, speaking prophetically about what Our Lady would be, “…like a bride bedecked with her jewels.” She is in her heart the bride of the Holy Spirit, the spouse of the Holy Spirit. And her heart was prepared to be able to receive the gift that God was going to give; first, the gift of his Holy Spirit, and then the gift of His Son, so that as she was united in her heart with the Holy Spirit, she held the Holy Spirit in her heart. She pondered the Holy Spirit there. So perfectly united to the Holy Spirit was she that she was able to conceive the Son of God and make the Holy Spirit fruitful in that manner. She received Jesus first in her heart; she held Him there, she pondered Him before she was able to receive Him in her womb. While she did not understand how this was going to happen (as we are told at the time of the Incarnation), so now in what we heard in the Gospel reading she did not understand the things that Jesus was saying to her, but yet – as a mother will do – she held all of these things in her heart. As she watched Our Lord continue to grow, and as she watched Him through His Passion, His death, and His Resurrection, she came to understand all of the things that were meant.
For us too, then, our hearts must be fashioned after hers. She is our mother. She holds us in her heart; she ponders us in her heart. And our hearts then must be fashioned after hers so that we too will receive the Holy Spirit, that we too will act in faith, not always understanding, but accepting and being able to ponder these things in our hearts so that, as time goes along and we grow in the spiritual life, we will be more united to Christ and we will then understand more perfectly all of the things that He is doing in our lives, things that right now make no sense to us, but things that will make sense as time goes along.
I think it is also important as we celebrate this glorious feast today of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart, that we think back to 1917 when she appeared at Fatima and she told the children that in the end her Immaculate Heart would triumph and there would be a long period of peace and unprecedented growth for the Church. Right now that is the only part of the Fatima message that remains unfulfilled, and it is the part that I believe we are going to see fulfilled very soon in our own lifetime. And so we need to pray to hasten this great victory that has been foretold to us, the victory of the woman over the serpent.
When we look at what is going on in the world today, we do not understand and we wonder and we question, “Why does God allow this evil to happen? Why doesn’t He intervene? Why doesn’t something happen?” We do not understand. But if we accept in faith that all of this is for a purpose and it will all glorify God even more – because when we recognize just how far evil has run its course and then Our Lady intervenes and the triumph of her Immaculate Heart purifies the world so that it becomes like her heart and we will be able to live a truly Catholic life in a Catholic world – then we will be able to understand why God allowed the evil to run its course: so that those who would be faithful would have to choose Him in the face of the evil, that we will have to make that radical choice just like Our Lady did, an act of faith, not understanding, not knowing, but trusting and making that act of faith as we move forward trusting in the Lord that through His grace operating in the Immaculate Heart of Mary He will purify things and bring about a purification and a perfection that we have never known. That will happen only after evil has run its course, then the purification comes and the Triumph of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart, followed by that long period of peace and unprecedented growth for the Church.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.