Immaculate Heart of Mary: An ocean of enduring love
Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. June 8th 2013
A few days ago, Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and his wife, Lyudmila, announced that their marriage was over and that they were separating after over 30 years of married life. Lyudmila said that they reached this “joint decision” to separate because, in her words, “We barely see each other…Vladimir is completely submerged in his work.” In worldly standards, they could be said to have everything going for them. They had wealth, fame, health, political power for over a dozen years, and many other things that many would think would make for a happy and thriving married life. One obvious and essential thing that they lacked was an enduring love, i.e. a love that squarely faces challenges and hardships and never gives up even in painful and trying moments.
Where do we find that enduring love for God and for others? Where can we find that love that thrives in and through the pains of life? How can we connect to that love that conquers all pain? God, who cannot suffer pain, offers us this enduring love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ. By becoming man, Jesus Christ shows us this enduring love for the Father and for us throughout His earthly life. This love will reach its climax when at Calvary “Christ suffered and died for us while we were yet sinners.”(Rom 5:8) His pains, real and intense as they were, could not quench His love for His Father or for us in any way. Besides, this His enduring love was offered to unworthy mankind steeped in sin.
But what Jesus Christ possesses by right, we, the members of His own body, possess by his mercy. Besides, the Spirit in His holy soul “takes from what is Christ’s and declares it to us.” (Jn 16:15) Where the Spirit of Jesus Christ is present, the privileges, virtues and merits of Christ are present and active. We see this in the heart of Mary on whom the “Holy Spirit descended” (Lk 1:35) at the moment of the Annunciation. In the heart of Mary, we find this enduring love for God and for others more than in any other creature. Jesus Christ, by His Holy Spirit, has filled her Immaculate Heart with this love that endures all things.
Look closely at an image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and you will see two things. The first thing is a flame above her heart and then a crown of thorns or swords at the bottom of the heart. The flame of fire represents Mary’s pure love for God and others. The thorns or the swords show the pain that Mary suffered because of her love for God and for others. Despite the pressing thorns or sharp swords at the bottom, the flame of love still burns bright at the top. It even appears that the pains of the swords or thorns fuel her love for God and for others.
Today’s Gospel (Lk 2:41-51) shows us the pain Mary endured for three days as she searched for Jesus. She expressed her anguish on finding Jesus, “Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” She suffered three days of separation from her God and her son but she continued to seek for Him even in her pains. The pains of separation did not quench her desire or love for Him. Neither did she let the pain of this event make her take anything away from the love and honor that she owed her husband St. Joseph. She walked with her beloved spouse in the darkness of their search for Jesus. Her love for God and others remained burning bright in the midst of her intense pains and anguish. It is because her love triumphed over her pain and even grew in and through the pain that she could peacefully keep “all these (painful) things in her heart” and still continue to love God and others. Even the pains of not understanding her obedient and loving son could not quench her love for Him. In Mary’s Immaculate Heart we find that ocean of love for God and others that endures, overcomes, and even thrives in the midst of pains.
In her second apparition to the three shepherd children of Fatima in June 13, 1917, the Mother of God told Lucia, “My Immaculate heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.” In her next apparition, she showed the children a frightening vision of hell and then said to them, “You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in this world devotion to My Immaculate Heart.” To be devoted to something means that we give ourselves to that thing with the result that we too become like what we are devoted to. Doesn’t Jesus want us to be devoted to His own Mother? Doesn’t He want us to be like Mary and to have a love that endures all for the sake of the beloved? Surely He does.
We know that Jesus desires this devotion to the Immaculate Heart of His Mother from what transpired at the Cross. At the moment of His death pangs on the Cross, Jesus looked into the sorrowful and frightened eyes of the beloved disciple and, referring to Mary, said to him, “Behold your Mother.” (Jn 19:27) John was thus called to devotion to Mary so that he too could have a love that endures all pain and even thrives in the midst of pain. Like St. John, let us too “take Mary to our home” as our Mother and be devoted to her so that the pains of life do not quench or hinder our love for God and others.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, we need this enduring love to be faithful to God and to love others. We need this love to endure all sufferings, rejection, persecution, sickness, temptations to sin, and all pain. We need this enduring love if we are going to resist the culture of death and remain faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We need this love if we are going to be faithful to our vocation in world of many broken commitments. We must share in this love if we are going to persevere in prayer and when we feel abandoned by God and others. We need this love if we are going to avoid going with the flow of our selfish and self-seeking culture. Without this love that endures all pains, how can we hope to “deny ourselves every day, take up our cross and follow Jesus” (Mt 16:24) as His disciples? Above all, we need this enduring love if we are going to get to heaven because “only those who endure till the end will be saved.”(Mt 24:13)
Today, the People of God in all dioceses of the Philippines will pray the act of consecration to Mary after Holy Communion on this feast day of her Immaculate Heart. When we consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate heart of Mary, we give ourselves and all that we have to Mary and she too in return gives us herself and all that she has. Our consecration is a first step in our life of devotion to Mary. By this consecration, we obey the dying request of Jesus on Calvary, we take Mary as our model and help in loving God and neighbors, we share in her Spirit-filled life, and we too experience a love that conquers and thrives in and through the pains of life.
Nothing can quench the love that is Mary’s heart for God and for each and every one of us. She who “is blessed because she believed,” (Lk 1:45) believed and obeyed Jesus and also took us as her children at the dying request of Jesus. As a loving Mother, Mary wants to give us the best thing that she has to offer and this is nothing but her Immaculate Heart and the enduring love that we shall find therein. She offers us this heart as a refuge and a sure path to that unfailing love for God and neighbor.
Life is hard. The trials are many. We are weak. We are prone to selfishness. The road to heaven is hard. Jesus Christ has given us in the heart of His own Mother, a heart filled with the Holy Spirit, a share in His own enduring love. Through a life of devotion to Mary, we will be like her, having the flame of love of God and neighbor burning brightly no matter how painful the thorns or swords may be.
Glory to Jesus!!!! Honor to Mary!!!