The feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary falls the day after the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As the devotion to the Sacred Heart gained popularity in Church the devotion to Immaculate Heart also became popular.
Why the Popularity?
The reason for the glory and popularity is nothing but the truth that Mary is the mother of God. From the beginning God has a special love and concern for the mankind. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3: 16). To redeem the human kind, God had prepared a second Eve in Mary for a new Adam. Mary is filled by the grace of God and is pure in soul, mind and body. The Lord prepared an Immaculate Heart to worship him and bring the Son of God into the world. The Angel announced to grace filled Mary thus, ‘Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee.’
The foundation to the devotion to Mother Mary is from Jesus and the Holy Bible. We right from the beginning of the Marian devotion the icons and paintings of Mary holding Jesus the son of God. The wise men came in search of the Messiah to Bethlehem and worshiped Jesus who was with Mary (Mathew 2:11). The foundation for Mary’s glory is Messiah himself. Filled with the Holy Spirit Elizabeth greets Mary in her house, “But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:43-45). The forefathers were waiting and praying for the messiah for centuries. Their prayer was fulfilled through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
What is This Immaculate Heart?
When we have to talk about someone we always use ‘the heart’ as an adjective. We always say he\she is of pure heart or that person is of evil heart or hard hearted. Pondering upon the Immaculate Heart of Mary, famous theologian Duns Scotus says, Mary’s heart is immaculate. Because it was the will of God that the mother of God should be without any sins. Mary’s heart is pure and all her works are also pure.
Scientifically heart is an organ to pump blood. From a human standpoint heart represents the emotion of love. Conflict of emotions and all feelings comes from the heart. Joy, pain, sadness, mercy all these feelings rise from the heart. Mary’s heart is the repository of all that is good. She only lived to do the will of God and always led a life pleasing to God. Her heart was set apart to live the word of God and it continued to burn with the love of God. She meditated on the mysteries of God constantly.
Mary Holds Her Children Close to Her Heart
There is a story about Mary. The Jews brought the fallen woman to see if Jesus would judge her and thus find fault with Jesus. They asked Jesus, ‘As per the Law of Moses, we have to stone her to death.’ What do you say? Jesus replied for their repeated cries, ‘Anyone who has not sinned in this crowd can throw the first stone.’ They dropped the stones and walked away. Then the disciples asked Mary, ‘you were without sin and you had all the right to throw the stone, then why did you not?’ Her response was, ‘I see myself in that woman’s place. Even I should have been stoned to death. It was only by my husband that I was saved from such a fate.’
Mother Mary is there to stand with the poor. Mother Mary can empathize with the unjustly judged and misunderstood people. She is the refuge of sinners. Peter denied Jesus and stayed away from his master. The glance of Jesus opened the heart of Peter and he falls at the feet of Mother Mary with tears. Where ever there is injustice, poverty, pain and trials Mother Mary is there to be their comfort. The salvation history is not like world history. From the cries of Abel to the cries of Christ on the Calvary there is a history of tears in the salvation history. It is a continuing saga. In Bethlehem, in Egypt when Jesus was lost, in the roads of Jerusalem when the word of God pierced her heart, at the foot of the cross, Mother Mary stood with God and His word.
Mother Mary stood by Jesus throughout his life. When Jesus carried the cross and went up Calvary, Mary was with him like a shadow. There is a scene where Mother Mary meets Jesus on the way to Calvary and encourage Jesus that she is with him throughout. Mother Mary is with all of us on our way to Calvary. Mother Mary hides in her Immaculate Heart all those who bear their crosses and who are troubled. Mother Mary is at hand to solve the problems of the Church and our families. At the wedding at Canna she helped the family without waiting for their request. Mother Mary finds solutions to all the problems from God.
Mother Mary is the most favored by God as she was the mother of God. She is a role model for all the faithful. As she hid all the secrets and plans of God in her heart, she holds all of us in her Immaculate Heart. Let us not hesitate to hold on to this Mother. Let her pleasing life turn the jars of water in our lives into the best wine.
Fr. Boniface CST