Yesterday was the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. We are reminded that Jesus’ heart burns as a furnace, inviting all other hearts to cast themselves freely into these flames to be purified in His all-abundant and seeking love. Jesus gives each person His heart with such tenderness and longing, to teach us to become one with Him, and to share in His glory.
Today is the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Immaculately conceived and without sin, Mary is the pinnacle of God’s creation. Mary’s willingness to be completely enveloped in the flame of love of God the Holy Spirit is what married the human to the divine, brought about the Incarnation, and initiated God’s saving plan of love.
This is why Mary is the model of the church. Although Peter and the apostolic succession hold the keys of the church and has the authority to speak for it, it is indeed Mary who is the “first receiver,” whose “yes” is primary and necessary for the church to exist.
God’s favored of creation is mankind. He freely created man in His image and likeness so that His love, which is an eternal exchange in the Holy Trinity, could bring about the incorporation of every member of the human race into inseparable communion with Him. God the Father has invested all His being into every minutia of our lives, concerned with all that concerns our hearts, and responding to us in a way that in the end is best oriented to bringing us to Himself in heaven.
It takes trust and Faith to stay true to this reality, because in our shame it is painful to realize that we are loved. We tend to desire to stagnantly adhere to the expectations and judgements developed in our woundedness, and shy away from the touch of the Divine Physician. However, we must not minimize our real pain by attempting to escape it with mental gymnastics, and neither should we believe that we are victims who have no control over our decisions.
The perfect virtuous response to painful truth is seeking further and more perfect union with the source of the gift of our existence and salvation, Jesus Christ crucified on the cross. This is why the crucifixion is such a fundamental truth of Faith. Mary models this perfect response by responding in contemplation and docility to the amazing truths communicated to her. We see this response when the in the gospel it says: “and his mother kept all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51). Let us also keep the truths that we receive in our hearts, despite their weight; because if we do, we shall surely become more united with Christ on his walk to calvary and his eventual death and resurrection.
The saints were not the perfect thinkers or planners, though they became closer to that in their growth in love. The saints were those ones who learned to love God intensely, even amid their characters traits and weaknesses. They were the ones who habitually allowed the desires and truths given to them by God to stay in their hearts, without recourse to sin. If this is done consistently, any human can become a living saint and go to heaven. God made us in such a way that this is possible and pleasing to him. This process has elements of pain and effort, especially early on when learning to escape from sin, but with perseverance, patience, and self-denial, the process elicits a sweetness which is closeness to Christ suffering on the cross.