Jeremiah 23:1-6; Ephesians 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34
There are, I know, a number of parishioners here who would be aware that last Thursday it was the feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel. This is the feast also of the Brown Scapular which many Catholics are in the habit of wearing. I have worn it most of my life. The promise of the Brown Scapular is that ‘whoever wears it faithfully, will not see eternal fire.’
So this weekend I am going to speak to you about Mary, the daughter of the Father, the Mother of the Son, and the Bride of the Holy Spirit.
Let me start with the well-known penny Catechism question, ‘Why did God make me?’ We all remember the answer ‘God made me to know him, love him, and serve him here on earth and to be happy with him for ever in heaven.’
To get to heaven we have to become like God. We have to become holy. This is our vocation. Not just mine or his or hers, but your vocation. Everything we do must lead us to holiness. All our thoughts, words, and actions, all our sufferings, all our endeavours must lead us to holiness.
If holiness is not the goal of our life we are not living meaningful life; we are not doing the work God created us to do.
St Louis de Montfort says, ‘What a marvellous transformation is possible! Dust into light, uncleanness into purity, sinfulness into holiness, creature into Creator, man into God. A marvellous work, I repeat, so difficult in itself, and even impossible for a mere human to bring about, for only God can accomplish it through his grace ..’
He goes on to say that the very creation of the whole universe is not as great an achievement as this – that a human soul should become holy like God.
But how will we bring this about? Which book will we read? Which expert spiritual director will we find? Which class will we attend? Which prayers will we say and which penances will we do?
A simple, powerful, infallible thing to do is to place ourselves in Mary’s hands. To approach Mary the expert of experts, the guru of gurus, the Spiritual Director of spiritual directors and, like little children who are lost, humbly and sincerely to place ourselves in her hands.
To approach Mary is to approach one who is the Mother of Holiness, the Mother of Jesus, and our Mother. She knows we are lost, she knows we are helpless, and she knows what we need. She will lead us home and she will prepare us to go in through the front door when we get there - by making us holy along the way.
Mary ‘mothered’ Jesus to earth and she will ‘mother’ us to heaven. God has called her to this task. Her motherhood does not stop with Jesus the Head. Mary continues to bring forth the Body of Christ as well. That’s us!
When God gave Jesus to Mary he gave her EVERY grace. That is why the angel called her ‘full of grace’. This grace was meant for us. Just as Mary gave us Jesus she gives us every grace. Some have called her the Mother of all grace. And that is what we need to become holy; we need grace.
How wise we are to bring ourselves to Mary!
Mary formed God in her womb and gave him to us. Do you think she cannot form us and give us to God?
Jesus submitted to Mary and God wants us to submit to Mary. How wise we are to do this!
Mary taught God to be human – do you think she cannot teach us to be like God?
Jesus obeyed Mary, and how wise we are when we do the same.
We have to learn to stay close to her because she knows the way to Jesus. She is always with him.
We live in a dangerous world .. a world that is dangerous for our soul. We need to be protected. Mary, our Mother, is the ultimate protection against evil. And even in the midst of dangers and sufferings, Mary works wonders in our soul.
When we give ourselves to God through Mary we are imitating God who gave himself to us through Mary; we are imitating the Son who came to us through her; we are imitating the Holy Spirit who gives himself through her.
The Brown Scapular is a beautiful, simple, effective way to begin to give ourselves to Mary.