Learning from Mary to say “Yes” to the Father with Jesus, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, July 16, 2014

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time, Year II
Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
July 16, 2014
Is 10:5-7.13-16, Ps 94, Mt 11:25-27

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Today we are presented in the readings and our feast day more opportunities for us to continue taking a soil sample of our minds, hearts and souls as Jesus was helping us to do on Sunday. Today we see illustrations of the hardened soil by the wayside as well as the good, fruitful soil Jesus wants us all to have. In the Gospel, Jesus praises and thanks the Father for hiding the mysteries of his kingdom from the “wise and the clever” but revealing them to the “childlike.” The wise and the clever are those with hardened and infertile soil; the childlike have good, receptive, responsive soil.
  • When Jesus describes the “wise and the clever,” he’s not castigating intelligence but intellectual pride. We see this type of pride in the Assyrians in today’s first reading from the Prophet Isaiah. God was delivering the kingdom of Judah into their hand in order to bring his people to conversion, but they responded with arrogance. Putting Assyria’s attitude into words in their mouth, God describes their intellectual pride through his prophet: “By my own power I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I am shrewd,” the Assyrians say. “I have moved the boundaries of peoples, their treasures I have pillaged, and, like a giant, I have put down the enthroned. My hand has seized like a nest the riches of nations; As one takes eggs left alone, so I took in all the earth.” There was no openness to God. They were too wise and clever, to powerful and wise on their own, too shrew, too giantlike to need God. Jesus was also clearly referring to those scribes and pharisees whose intimate knowledge of the Scriptures actually prevented rather than facilitated their hearing him speaking to them live in the Word made flesh. Those scholars of the law are the paradigm of the hardened soil that God’s word can’t penetrate, just as we see in the Gospel. They not only resist Jesus’ words, they not only pretend that even his miracles are done by the power of the devil, but they end up culminating their resistance to God’s word by breaking the fifth and seventh commandments and conspiring to frame and to kill Jesus.
  • On the other hand, we find the good soil of the childlike. Jesus actually uses an expression in Greek that means “non-speaking” or “no-word,” pointing to the stage of infancy before the child is able to express himself  in words. That doesn’t mean they’re babblers, but that they’re defined not by their own words, their own thoughts, their own opinions, but by accept Jesus’ word, which they receive, live in accordance with, and announce. It’s not their own takes that matter, but God’s. That’s why they’ve got such good soil. Rather than people who clamor “My will be done!,” they exclaim with Jesus, “Yes! Father! Such has been your gracious will!” They’re those who are able to enter into the mysteries because they’re docile, because they accept Jesus, who is the revelation of all the hidden things he himself announces. Jesus, “the Son,” wishes to reveal the Father to all of us but only the childlike, only the docile, only those with good soil accept that revelation enfleshed in Jesus.
  • So how do we become more childlike? We learn from Our Lady whose feast we celebrate today under the title of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. The Blessed Mother is the paragon of the good soil Jesus wants in all of us. She, while being the Mother of the new creation, is still very much the “infant” daughter of God, who doesn’t speak her own word but conforms her entire life to his. She manifests this docility at the Annunciation, asking a question how the miracle of the virginal conception of Jesus would take place and then responding in faith, allowing her entire life to develop in accordance with the Lord’s word. She showed her being “no-word” except God’s word in her Magnificat, linking together as her own the words God had inspired the great heroines throughout the Old Testament to use in praise of him. She showed her great wisdom in telling the servants in Cana and all of us the secret of happiness, “Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you.” Mary, who wants to raise us to spiritual maturity, paradoxically at the same time helps us to see that that spiritual maturity is this total receptivity to God and total alignment of one’s life with God’s Word, God’s will, and God’s very life.
  • Devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is a school of this type of spiritual childhood. Anyone who has ever formally received the brown scapular dedicated to our Lady of Mt. Carmel has been inducted into the Confraternity that pertains to the Carmelite family. When we wear that scapular properly, it signifies three things: belonging, consecration and imitation. The scapular symbolizes that we have taken on ourselves Mary’s own garment. We enter under her mantle, into her school or seminary. Under her mantle, we learn how to pray contemplatively like all Carmelites. That leads to the second element, consecration. We entrust ourselves to her in life. We transfer the ownership of our life to her so that she may guide us more and more into the mysteries of the kingdom her Son came to reveal, so that we might receive and respond to that revelation on good soil, so that it might bear abundant fruit in us for the world’s salvation. Finally it commits us to imitating her in her sharing God’s word with others, in becoming a true handmaid or servant of the Lord, of seeking to help others grow in faith by becoming more and more childlike.
  • The great place we say “Yes, Father! Such has been your gracious will!,” together with Jesus, helped by Mary, is here at Mass. This is the place where we say, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth.” The word translated, “I give you praise, Father,” is better translated, “I gratefully avow, Father.” Jesus was vowing, consecrating, committing himself to the Father with gratitude over his plan. Mass is the place we do so. Mass is the place where we become more childlike. I’ve always loved Psalm 43 that priests pray at the foot of the altar in the extraordinary form of the Mass. It begins, “I will go up to the altar of God to the God who rejuvenates me with joy.” Every time we approach Mass we become more childlike, we fill ourselves not with our own words but the words of the Church, the bride and body of Christ that we make in unison with him. The Mass is the place of the revelation of Jesus’ word and the fullness of his divine love. Together with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, we rejoice to be here, we gratefully renew our vows to God, we praise him or his gracious will, and we ask him for all the graces we need, like trusting children, to spend our lives as living, loving commentaries of that holy grace and holy will!

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
IS 10:5-7, 13B-16

Thus says the LORD:
Woe to Assyria! My rod in anger,
my staff in wrath.
Against an impious nation I send him,
and against a people under my wrath I order him
To seize plunder, carry off loot,
and tread them down like the mud of the streets.
But this is not what he intends,
nor does he have this in mind;
Rather, it is in his heart to destroy,
to make an end of nations not a few.For he says:
“By my own power I have done it,
and by my wisdom, for I am shrewd.
I have moved the boundaries of peoples,
their treasures I have pillaged,
and, like a giant, I have put down the enthroned.
My hand has seized like a nest
the riches of nations;
As one takes eggs left alone,
so I took in all the earth;
No one fluttered a wing,
or opened a mouth, or chirped!”Will the axe boast against him who hews with it?
Will the saw exalt itself above him who wields it?
As if a rod could sway him who lifts it,
or a staff him who is not wood!
Therefore the Lord, the LORD of hosts,
will send among his fat ones leanness,
And instead of his glory there will be kindling
like the kindling of fire.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 94:5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 14-15

R. (14a) The Lord will not abandon his people.
Your people, O LORD, they trample down,
your inheritance they afflict.
Widow and stranger they slay,
the fatherless they murder.
R. The Lord will not abandon his people.
And they say, “The LORD sees not;
the God of Jacob perceives not.”
Understand, you senseless ones among the people;
and, you fools, when will you be wise?
R. The Lord will not abandon his people.
Shall he who shaped the ear not hear?
or he who formed the eye not see?
Shall he who instructs nations not chastise,
he who teaches men knowledge?
R. The Lord will not abandon his people.
For the LORD will not cast off his people,
nor abandon his inheritance;
But judgment shall again be with justice,
and all the upright of heart shall follow it.
R. The Lord will not abandon his people.

Gospel
MT 11:25-27

At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”