Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Jesus is the shepherd who never loses a single sheep; today we are told of the heart-stopping moment when Mary lost her little Lamb.

Yet after three days He was found in the Temple, a foreshadowing of another three days when she would lose her Lamb but would not seek Him; rather, she would wait for Him to return to her. Simeon had warned her that her heart would be pierced by a sword (Luke 2:35), clearly prophesying about Jesus’ death, but today in the Temple she likely recalled those words when Jesus said, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” In other words, “I am not only yours.” The sword of prophecy has been unsheathed.

Mary, of course, had never forgotten this fact; Jesus belonged as much to the Father as to her and, what’s more, her Son came to give His life for the world, not just for her. But surely she thought her Son would not begin His mission for some years yet! Surely she did not have to give Him up just now! And so she took Him home, and together with Joseph they raised Him, and Scripture says He “…was obedient to them,” meaning that He gave Himself to their parentage and love. Our Lady, as she was wont to do, kept “all these things in her heart,” as she did with the message of the shepherds at Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:19), and doubtless did at many other moments in her life. As we considered earlier in the week during the Feast of the Visitation, Mary was a woman who had given her whole self—including her Immaculate Heart—to God, and today we see that this often meant it was preoccupied with her Son. Mary perfectly embodies for us what Jesus will teach later in His life: “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (Luke 12:34) Mary’s treasure was her Son, thus her heart was constantly in Him, in union with God.

Jesus says that, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head” (Luke 9:58) not because He was an itinerant, and not because no one would take Him in. Rather, there is only one dwelling He desires most on this earth, and until His death and resurrection He could not yet dwell there: the human heart. This is what Mary can teach us, to love her Son such that He dwells there in the Temple of our bodies, in the Holy of Holies that is our heart. We desire Heaven—to dwell in God—and He desires to begin that relationship here and now by dwelling within us.

When Jesus gives Himself to us in the Eucharist, do you think He desires to pitch His tent in the pit of your stomach? No! He does not remain there; the mouth is but an entrance to where He truly desires to be. When we receive Him in the Eucharist, let us receive Him into our hearts just as we have received Him into our body. Let us receive Him as Mary did, first into her heart before ever her womb, remaining in her heart ever after.

June 4th, 2016