Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Is 61:9-11; Sm 2:1,4-5,6-7,8; Lk 2:41-51

Hannah is given a song to sing and a son to give to God.  She exults that the LORD has saved her from the humiliation of being childless and ridiculed by her servants and the society in general.  Indeed, she is the “barren wife who bears seven sons.”  Even though this song is about her very blessed son Samuel who would lead God’s People out of the darkness of Eli’s sons into the light of true worship of the Living God, she rejoices as if she had seven sons.  The LORD humbles, and he also exalts.  Hannah was humbled by appearing to be a drunken, “ne’er do well,” in the Holy Tabernacle, only to turn up sometime later to offer God her son.  Such is the joy deep in the Immaculate Heart of Mary; she too, was almost cast off—could have been stoned for having a child before living with a husband, and yet she gives birth to Son of the Most High, conceived by the Holy Spirit.  Like the prophet, Isiah, and Hannah, Mary rejoices heartily in the LORD, in God who is the joy of her heart and soul. Indeed, in this memorial celebration we give a voice to the praise that springs up before all the nations.  In this feast we share in the blessing of the Virgin Mary who kept the word of God and pondered it in her immaculate heart.

Toward the end of his preaching the prophet Isiah is wild with joy.  He proclaims that the descendants of God’s People will be renowned among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples.  They will be acknowledged as a race the LORD has blessed because they will become the blessing of Immanuel, God With Us.  The Prophet rejoices heartily in the LORD, like Hannah and the Virgin rejoice over their sons.  The LORD God clothes him with a robe of salvation and wrapped him in a mantle of justice.  Such is the joy in which the redeemed shine and share with the entire human race.  When the LORD God Almighty becomes the bridegroom adorned with a diadem and the human family becomes the bride bedecked with her jewels.  The Great Wedding Feast begins with the divine and human uniting in the Beloved Son.  Indeed, all creation shares in this jubilation: the earth brings forth its plants and a garden makes its growth spring up.  Out of this joy and gladness will arise the justice for which every human heart longs.  It is a boundless joy foreshadowed by Hannah and felt in the Immaculate Heart of Mary;  it is a hearth felt joy, the abundant life which the Savior gives us.

The universal call to holiness is at the heart of the New Testament.  Perhaps, this call is what the youthful Jesus was reviewing with the elders in the temple when he was found by the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph.  Whatever the Lord Jesus was saying to the teachers they were astounded.  We too, are astounded to hear Saint Luke reveal that the Lord Jesus went home with them and came to Nazareth; there he was obedient to them.  The Eternal Son of the Eternal Father became obedient to humans.  This is astounding.  Yet, even more astounding is that he did all of this for us.  His entire life, ministry, teaching, miracles, indeed his death and resurrection were accomplished for us, that we too might have hearts that exult in the LORD, our Savior. Indeed, we keep all these mysteries in in our hearts, so that our hearts might expand to receive the Father and the Son who with the Spirit come—though we are not worthy—to abide within us, to share a meal.  The Eucharist is our “here and now” experience of that eternal heavenly banquet.