The Tears Of A Mother

The Tears Of A Mother

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Dearly Beloved,

In today’s epistle, St Paul summarises our spiritual combat in these words: Be not deceived: God is not mocked. For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. For he that soweth in his flesh of the flesh also shall reap corruption. But he that soweth in the spirit, of the spirit shall reap life everlasting (Gal 6:7-8). And in the Gospel we see portrayed the life of the flesh which leads to death of the soul. Indeed the young man from Naim represents the sinner who has died to grace and is being carried away to eternal death. Fortunately, he has a mother who weeps for his fall, and the grace of graces is offered to him: he meets Jesus, and when a soul meets Jesus, everything can change. From death to life, from sin to grace.

The other texts of the Mass are, as it were, a mosaic of attitudes that contribute to leading the soul back to grace and keeping it there. The offertory verse, for example, gives us one of the most fundamental of these, namely the patient expectation of grace: I have waited for the Lord, and he was attentive to me. And he heard my prayers, and brought me out of the pit of misery and the mire of dregs. And he set my feet upon a rock, and directed my steps. (Ps 39:2-3). Oftentimes it is for lack of patience that we fail to receive the grace of God. We are very much like teenagers ordering a happy meal at McDonalds and expecting to be served within the minute. Fast food is certainly not healthy, nor is fast grace. The Lord knows that grace that is longed for is better for the soul, as it is prepared for and received with gratitude. Like tough meats, we often need to spend a few hours in the oven, baked by the heat of tribulation, before we can be useful for anything. St James encourages use in the same vein: Be patient until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth: patiently bearing till he receive the early and latter rain. Be you therefore also patient and strengthen your hearts: for the coming of the Lord is at hand (James 5:7-8). That is also why the book of Ecclesiasticus tells the soul that sets out to serve the Lord: Son, when thou comest to the service of God… prepare thy soul for temptation. Humble thy heart, and endure: incline thy ear, and receive the words of understanding: and make not haste in the time of clouds. Wait on God with patience: join thyself to God, and endure, that thy life may be increased in the latter end. Take all that shall be brought upon thee: and in thy sorrow endure, and in thy humiliation keep patience. For gold and silver are tried in the fire, but acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation (Eccli ch. 2). Thrice in that short passage we find the word “endure”. Yes, becoming a saint is about endurance. It’s not a sprint, but a lifelong marathon.

We are all in this struggle together, and that is why St Paul tells us that we must carry one another’s burdens in order to fulfil the law of Christ – alter alterius onera portate et sic adimplebitis legem Christi. The expression “law of Christ” reminds us that the Lord did not come to abolish the law but to fulfil it and bring it to its perfection. Whereas in the Old Covenant, it was enough to observe the letter of the Law, in the New, we must observe its spirit, and the spirit is far more demanding than the letter, as Our Lord makes clear when he says in the Sermon on the Mount: You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart (Mat 5:27-28). The law of Christ will have us be made perfect in living according to the Spirit, to grace; it will have us rule over our senses and turn them into instruments of God’s glory and our sanctification. That is why in the postcommunion of today’s Mass we will ask that “the efficacy of the divine gift may possess our minds and bodies, so that its effects, and not our own impulses, may ever prevail in us”. A marvellous way of establishing that life in the Spirit is all about checking, and gradually mastering, all those natural impulses of our hearts and bodies, passions and emotions of a moment, which tend to lead the soul astray and prevent it from being led by the Spirit. It is about rising above the flesh and its ephemeral pleasures and allowing ourselves to be renewed interiorly and make to God the sacrifice of all that we are and have, a pure oblation to His glory

Last year at this time, our political leaders were giving us a frightening example of the flesh ruling over the spirit by coercing us into taking what were known to be and are still known to be untested, dangerous experimental vaccines. Sadly, the evil fruits of that situation are still with us. Our governments still refuse to acknowledge any link with the tens of thousands of inexplicable deaths that followed reception of the experimental drugs around the world, nor have they acknowledged the crime of contravening not only international conventions but more importantly basic tenets of the natural law. In the meantime we still have large numbers of qualified, competent personnel forced into unemployment or obliged to accept hard jobs that pay only a fraction of what they are entitled to.

This, however, is only the bitter fruit of decades of unnatural violation of our God’s law. Laws have been enacted or are the process of being so, which effectively destroy the family, idolise sodomy, murder millions of babies in the womb, corrupt our youth, kill our elderly and handicapped as well as promote suicide. And to top it all off, we are now told that God wills religious diversity, thus making God out to be a very confused parent who doesn’t have a clue as to what He is doing or saying. That is mocking God. Nevertheless, God is not mocked. We reap what we sow. We will reap what we are now sowing. Failure to consider and condemn such crimes makes them not less, but only more serious. Nor can we ordinary citizens be deemed without fault if we do nothing at all to call out the crimes that are allowed to go unchallenged. That is how civilisations decline and are engulfed in the anarchy of paganism.

A few days ago we commemorated Our Lady of Sorrows, and tomorrow is the feast of Our Lady of LaSalette, the weeping Virgin who shed tears over the sins of her people. How can we fail to see her in the widow of today’s Gospel? When all is lost, the tide of evil can be turned by the tears of a mother, of the Mother. Those tears that stream down her cheeks like pearls are like drops of water to irrigate the parched land of our hearts, of our broken world. The hour is late, but is it too late?

The son of today’s Gospel is us. He is our society, sold out to the great lie; he is our Church, incapable of finding a courageous voice to denounce the lie; he is each of us being swept away to the grave by our passions: by our lust, our ambition, our sloth, our envy and our avarice, our cowardice in denouncing error and evil. But if the Mother of Christ weeps for us, for our world, Jesus may step in yet to intervene. The hand of Jesus can touch the stretcher that is carrying us away to perdition. And if He does, the pall-bearers – the facilitators of death who murder our babies, stifle the last breath of our elderly, and confuse the minds of the faithful by constantly sowing the seeds of doubt as to what the Church actually teaches – will stop in their tracks.

In the midst of it all, it is easy to be disheartened, but we are not allowed to lose hope. Nor are we allowed to lose joy, that inexpressible joy which the psalmist makes mention of in today’s introit: Give joy to the soul of Thy servant, for to Thee, O Lord, I have lifted up my soul. For Thou, O Lord, art sweet and mild: and plenteous in mercy to all that call upon Thee (Ps 85:4-5). Joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and it is produced in every soul that is conscious of the grandeur of the grace it has received. It is one of the paradoxes of our Christian life that sorrow for sin and joy in the Spirit can coincide. How is this possible? The soul that has come to know God and is in intimate communion with Christ cannot help but feel deep joy, knowing that He, our love, has overcome all evil and can never again suffer or die. Such a soul knows that it is already in possession of the very joy of God through grace, awaiting to enter into that joy on the last day. In the meantime its love for God causes it to suffer, for it sees how it has offended its Lord and how He is so deeply offended by so many. This is why St John Vianney in his act of love prays: “Do me the grace to suffer while loving Thee, to love Thee while suffering”. Indeed when we love God above all things, how can we not suffer to see that so few love Him? And how can we not do everything in our power to bring others to love Him?

The paradox of a truly Christian life is that we move on, weeping over the tragic sins of the world, but confident in the grace of God, our hearts firmly established in what truly makes for lasting joy. With the holy abbot St Poemen, we stand weeping with Holy Mary at the foot of the cross, and we do not ever want to leave. We want to weep that way forever. And so at one and the same time we suffer at the sight of evil, and we rejoice with the certain knowledge that love conquers all evil. Gaudium Domini est fortitudo nostra – our strength is founded on that joy which the Lord gives, on His victory which overcomes the world. Fiat.

La Salette