February 26, 2013 - To Jesus through Mary

In today’s Gospel our Lord Jesus says, “Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.”  Jesus reminds us that no one can satisfy our thirst for a Father, not even our earthly fathers.  No matter how good they are, they still fail us and leave us desiring more.  That is because we are made for God to be our Eternal Father, from whom all fatherhood comes.  Even the best of fathers in this life are nothing compared to the infinite Love of our Eternal Father who has taken us to Himself through Baptism.  We can still call our earthly father “dad” and St. Paul even calls himself a spiritual father, but only in context that we remember that no one is father as God is our Father.  We must remember that all other fathers are but crumbs when held up to God THE Father.

The image of fatherhood for so many has been wounded by fallen fathers: fathers who were not very present to their families or their marriages or fathers who were too wrapped up in their work, sports, alcohol, or so many other attachments that stole a big part of their fatherliness.  So our thirst for our Eternal Father is all the deeper since we desire Him to fill in what naturally should have been present in our life but wasn’t often there.

Mary, our Immaculate Mother, is that gentle presence to ease our transition to coming to know the Heart of Jesus.  She can help us come to know that Sacred Heart that echoes and reveals the Father’s Infinite Love.  Even on a natural plain, it is the Mother that first embraces and knows intimately a new born child, and the child naturally gravitates to mom to be fed, nourished, warmed.  But over time, the Mother keeps introducing the child to the Father’s arms, and pretty soon the child is able to recognize “Daddy” and may even say his name first “Papa."  This gives great delight to the Mother who is truly in love with her spouse, for nothing would please her more than if her child loved “Daddy” in union with Mom’s deep love for him.  This is a great image of what happens in the spiritual dimension.  Knowing Mary intimately and with trust, not afraid that she will steal our deep love for Jesus but actually enhance it, will lead to our awakening in the Holy Spirit as we learn to trust God the Father deeply from our weak heart and utter that precious word to Him, “Abba” which means “Daddy.”

Even in our sins and falls, God our Father is not a cold disciplinarian or punisher or the one some moms speak about when they say “wait until Dad gets home” as we shake in our boots.  No, our first reading gives us an image of a Merciful Father who only corrects because He desires our happiness.  In Isaiah, God speaks to us like a Father who wants us to sit on His knee after breaking the house rules, “Come now, let us set things right, says the LORD: though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool.”  He speaks as a gentle, strong Father who sees who we can become.  He doesn’t define us by our sins but sees them as opportunities to glorify His Mercy as He transforms us into His Children of Light, clothed again in our white Baptismal gowns of His Grace.

It is only when we come to know God as Merciful Father through the Pierced Heart of Jesus, that we can become like Him, merciful as He is merciful.  That is what delights our Lord Jesus and His Mother so much - when we become children who imitate our true Father and not the false images of father that have wounded us.  Jesus has great hope in our potential if we respond with trust, so much hope that He said in yesterday’s readings; “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”  At first this may seem impossible to us; “How can I be merciful like God the Father when I can barely stand to be in so-and-so’s presence, especially when they keep hurting me and have never really apologized sincerely?”  Without God, it is true; we just can’t do it.  But we can stand with Mary and see through Her eyes as she looked upon Her Son who was being tortured so unfairly, so unmercifully.  We can take Mary’s hand and wonder how she did not give way to bitterness or want revenge.  We can hear with Mary the cry of Her Son from the Cross echoing over all of human history, “FATHER, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”  Mary stood there beneath the Cross, for she knew her own grace of being Immaculate was possible only because of Divine Mercy.  She knew she was being held in that Infinite Mercy, and she wants nothing more than to have all of her children discover what is possible when we trust Divine Mercy in our lives.

This trust in the merciful Heart of God can lead us to the great and happy freedom that our Lord Jesus spoke of in yesterday’s Gospel: a freedom that cannot be imprisoned by any situation; a freedom to love and be loved in the Presence of our Father; and a freedom to realize that if we live in Mercy, and allow Mercy to form us, we do not even have to fear our final judgment in the Presence of God.  Take a moment to reflect on how free a person would truly be if they lived fully the following words of Jesus:

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

Mary Immaculate, as you stood by the Cross of your Crucified Son, God’s grace reveals how these words of Jesus come alive in your being as you refuse to judge, become bitter, or seek revenge.  But you chose to stay in the Father’s Love.  Take us by the hand, dear Mother, and help us to believe in the Father’s Love shown to us through Jesus.  Help us to stay there.