The Tears of a Loving Mother, September 17, 2013

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Sanctuary of Our Lady of LaSalette
Votive Mass of Our Lady of LaSalette
Pilgrimage to the Saints and Shrines of France
September 17, 2013
Heb 5:7-9, Ps 31, Lk 2:22-35

To listen to an audio recording of this homily, please click below:

 

The following points were attempted in the homily:

  • To grow in our love and understanding of the Blessed Mother, we need to ponder her three annunciations. The first is the most famous, with the Archangel Gabriel announcing to Mary in Nazareth that she was to be the mother of the Son of God. The second happened in the Gospel for today’s Mass, when Simeon proclaimed that her maternity would involve a pierced heart. The third happened at the foot of the Cross, when Jesus himself announced that she was to be the mother of all his beloved disciples. In response to each of these annunciations, Mary responded, “fiat,” as a faithful handmaid of the Lord.
  • Her maternity involves suffering and weeping. We began Mass singing the Stabat Mater in which we ponder Mary’s standing at the foot of the Cross weeping over the physical sufferings of her Son and the rejection that led to that suffering. More than the most loving mother or grandmother weeps over children who have lost their way, Mary weeps for her children. That’s what LaSalette is about. The two shepherd children — Melanie and Maximin — found her weeping. We all need to ponder these tears. It’s tempting to think of the Blessed Mother exclusively in the beautiful images of Murillo, crowned with stars, stomping on the serpent, with the moon under her feet. But it’s key to grasp her tears, because without them, we won’t grasp her love, and we may not open ourselves to receive that love.
  • Her tears initially frightened the 14 year old girl and 11 year old boy, but she told them not to be afraid, to come close, because she wanted to announce to them great news. That was the great news of conversion. They had built a little shrine called “Paradise” and that’s where Mary first appeared, to show them that not everyone was on the way to Paradise. She lamented four practices that are still very common today: blaspheming the name of God; missing Sunday Mass; failing to pray, and not even taking the conversion of Lent seriously. She was calling them, and through them all of us, to do the opposite: using our thoughts and speech to praise God; to prioritize the great gift of her Son in the Eucharist; to become people who pray; and to repent and believe in the Gospel and live a repentant life.
  • She wore a radiant crucifix that had two symbols on it, one a hammer and another a pair of pincers, which was a sign of the freedom that everyone has, the freedom to refuse God and hammer Jesus to the Cross by sin, or the freedom to love God and take the pincers to remove the nails. That is the choice that faces every Christian.
  • That’s why the message of LaSalette is one of such hope. There is hope for conversion. Melanie and Maximin were not practicing Catholics when Mary appeared and seldom said their prayers. Their conversion led to the conversion of many others, beginning with Maximin’s father. When he was drunk and yelled at his son for speaking about this Lady so much, the 11 year old responded that she had spoken of him. That pierced him and he came to the place where Mary had appeared to the children, where a stream had begun to flow where Mary had sat. He drank some of the water and received a spiritual healing, to give up the booze and live off of the Living Water. He became a daily Mass goer for the rest of his life. That conversion is a sign of hope to everyone.
  • Blessed John Paul II spoke of this hope in 1996. “The message of La Salette was given to two young shepherds in a period of great suffering. People were scourged by famine, subjected to many injustices. Indifference or hostility toward the Gospel message worsened. As she appeared, bearing upon her breast the likeness of her crucified Son, Our Lady showed herself to be associated to the work of salvation, experiencing compassion for her children… La Salette is a message of hope, a hope sustained by the intercession of her who is the Mother of all peoples…  At La Salette, Mary clearly spoke of the constancy of her prayer for the world: she will never abandon the people created in the image and likeness of God, those to whom it has been given to become children of God. May she lead to her Son all the nations of the earth.”
  • Today we come here to be filled with the hope that flows from conversion, to become, like Melanie and Maximin, missionaries of this hope, carrying the pincers to remove Jesus’ nails out to a world with hammers, showing them, like Maximin showed his father, a road of great joy.

The readings for today’s Mass were:

A Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews (Heb 5:7-9)
In the days when he was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm — Save me, O Lord, in your Kindness (Ps 31)

In you, LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.
In your justice deliver me; incline your ear to me; make haste to rescue me!

Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to save me. You are my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake lead and guide me.
Free me from the net they have set for me, for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, LORD, faithful God.

But I trust in you, LORD; I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands; rescue me from my enemies, from the hands of my pursuers.

How great is your goodness, Lord, stored up for those who fear you.
You display it for those who trust you, in the sight of all the people.

Alleluia — “Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary; without dying you won the martyr’s crown beneath the Cross of the Lord.” 

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke (Lk 2:22-35)
When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,” and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” The Gospel of the Lord.