Saturday, June 12, 2010

She Kept All These Things In Her Heart.

 Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today, the Gospel reading for the memorial of the Immaculate Heart is obligatory.  The First Reading is taken from Saturday of the Tenth Week of the Year. 

Reading I
1 Kings 19:19-21
Elijah set out, and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat,
as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen;
he was following the twelfth.
Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him.
Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said,
“Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,
and I will follow you.”
Elijah answered, “Go back!
Have I done anything to you?”
Elisha left him and, taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them;
he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh,
and gave it to his people to eat.
Then he left and followed Elijah as his attendant.
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Psalm 16
You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
You are my inheritance, O Lord.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
You are my inheritance, O Lord.
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Luke 2:41-51
Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem
for the feast of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old,
they went up according to festival custom.
After they had completed its days, as they were returning,
the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem,
but his parents did not know it.
Thinking that he was in the caravan,
they journeyed for a day
and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding him,
they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions,
and all who heard him were astounded
at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him,
they were astonished,
and his mother said to him,
“Son, why have you done this to us?
Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
And he said to them,
“Why were you looking for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he said to them.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them;
and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
How much did Mary know about Jesus’ divinity, and when did she know it? We’d love to know the answers to these questions, but in fact we do not. What we do know is that the New Testament gives evidence that she experienced many of the challenges and anxieties of any mother. And today’s Gospel reading gives us an excellent example of the challenges of mothering this special son.

Luke tells of one particularly trying experience that occurred during the trek back to Galilee after the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the central Jewish feast of Passover in Jerusalem. Apparently, Mary and Joseph allowed their growing 12-year-old son the freedom of moving around the caravan from Nazareth during the journey; so they were not at first concerned that they did no see him during the first day of the return trip. But soon they began to ask relatives and acquaintances whether they had seen Jesus. Not finding him, they returned anxiously to Jerusalem, where he had remained without bothering to let his parents know! They finally found him, after three days. (Did Luke think of another three-day experience of loss and finding at the end of Jesus’ life, when he wrote these words? How could he not? He knows whose boyhood he is writing about.)

There was their twelve-year-old in the temple, astounding the teachers with his understanding and his answers. It was the kind of performance that would make any parents glow with pride in their young prodigy. But Mary’s immediate reaction was that of any distraught mom finding a wandering child: “Why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety?” And Jesus’ answer? Full if knowing double meaning: “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?-- also translatable as “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” Either way, Jesus is referring to the profound fact that he has another Father, the Most High Himself.

And Luke says, “But they did not understand what he said to them.” We the readers are so familiar with Jesus’ identity as divine and human that we think we understand just fine. So we can miss the reality that nothing revealed to Mary by angelic disclosure had prepared her for this unexpected challenge from her adolescent son.

Luke’s main intent is probably to help us appreciate this mysterious unfolding of Jesus’ identity and divine and human. But we have something to learn from Mary’s maternal wrestling with the mysterious sense of mission emerging in her son. Luke says that she “kept all these things in her heart.” Even for her, learning to live with Jesus was a long learning process. We should not be surprised that learning to be Jesus’ follower is also a matter of keeping these things in our hearts -- the surprising challenges to our presuppositions that Jesus presents to us as we continue to look for him and sometimes find ourselves confronted by the One we meet.
Dennis Hamm, S.J.
Creighton University Daily Reflections


Sarah in the tent said...

'Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?'

There is a tradition of the 'Holy House' as Mary's house. In England, the old Walsingham shrine - pre-Norman conquest - was intended as a replica of Mary's home. Much later, there is the strange story of Loretto. In the post-Reformation period, many 'Loretto' houses were built to shore up Catholicism in Europe.

Mary was Jesus' first 'house', chosen by His Father. So, when we seek Him, it should be natural to look to Mary.

Jesus promised to be with us always. Maybe this was the moment Mary and Joseph first started to understand how that might be.

Anonymous said...

Elijah might have found Elisha and threw his cloak over him, but it was God doing the “calling”. And what did Elisha respond with? “Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye, and I will follow you.” which, by the way, is sadly funny when, by today’s standards it might go something like this: “Wait, just let me tie up some loose ends and I’ll be right there”.

I guess it makes sense to couple this reading with the gospel reading for today. Jesus confirms (by staying in Jerusalem) that when God calls you to do something, just do it.

It’s like the Psalm says: “I bless the LORD who counsels me”.

All of it, once again, to reinforce the call of discipleship and what it contains, for all involved.