Homily at St James Church, Medjugorje
Many years ago, a man named Thomas Kempis wrote a most beautiful book, “The Imitation of Christ.” The book issued a calling to imitate our Lor. It echoed an invitation by St Paul and St Peter and St John in our scriptures. We are to be an alter Christus, another Christ–especially us priests.
But today Jesus seems to be inviting each of us to be an altera Maria, another Mary. We are to imitate Blessed Mother: “Whoever does the will of my Heavenly Father,” he says, “is my mother.”
A mother does a good many things for her child–and of course Mary does all of these things perfectly for her son Jesus. These are the same things we must do for Christ.
- She feeds him, just as we feed Christ in the poor and feed (support) the body of Christ the Church.
- Mary the mother par excellence spends time with her child, as we spend time with our eucharistic lord.
- Mary defends her son, as we defend Christ’s body the church.
- More than anything, Mary loves Jesus–she cradles him in Bethlehem and at Calvary, she looks in amazement into his eyes.
- A mother would do anything for her son. Mary was — and remains — the perfect mother. We are to follow her example.
We are to be an altera Maria, another Mary….we are to hold Christ tightly, we are to treasure him, kiss him, hold onto him.
There was a painting when I was here a year ago, it’s still here. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it changed some things in my life. It is an image of Blessed Mother holding Jesus. It’s called, “Holding God.” I bought a copy here last year and I hung this painting in the parish office. Whenever questions or disagreements come up–How to prioritize the needs of the parish? Who to hire? What faith formation program to use for our young people? What to do for a youth retreat? In all these things, I look to this painting and think: What will help us hold onto Jesus better? What will help us be a better altera Maria?
That question has opened lots of doors, and answering it has enabled us to start what has become a large SVDP society, a family faith formation program, a youth group, we’re building a house, we expanded confession times , and many more things. Whatever helps us to hold onto Jesus…that we must do.
What about our personal lives? What about your life? How can you hold onto Jesus better? Another way of asking this—What is in your life, that can’t be in your life, if you want to cradle Jesus? That is: What are you holding onto that prevents you from holding onto Jesus? That is the thing you must let go of.
- Perhaps you are nursing a grudge, ir is time to let it go.
- Perhaps you have an addition to food or alcohol or pornography or drugs, it is time to let it go. Get the help you need and drop it, cut it out of your life.
- it is time to let go of everything but Jesus.
We all need to let go of some things in order to hold onto Jesus, to be an altera Maria
And how then, letting go of all that, do we hold onto Mary?
The five messages of Medj suggest some things we can all do, should all do:
1. Confession, at least once a month
2. Bible, every day
3. Fasting, every Wed and Fri
4. Mass, daily if possible, and adoration
5. Prayer, especially the Rosary, every day
Friends–when Blessed Mother appeared on day #1 (June 24, 1981), she had a child with her. And she summoned those children, Come here. She was bringing them to Jesus. The next day, she did not have the child Jesus. I’ve spent some time wondering why this was. I think it’s this: Mary has given us the child Jesus……..to hold, to kiss, to treasure, to love.