“The joy of the Lord must be your strength.” The fourth week of Lent is marked by the importance of joy in the lives of the faithful. Today’s Gospel bears witness to Jesus’ unique ability to transform sorrow into joy. He does this by healing – not just the physically ill, but those who are afflicted in spirit. Joy returns to the heart when wholeness is restored. Most of us suffer brokenness that goes much deeper than what can be seen on the surface of our lives. It is a hidden brokenness, and we are unsure to whom we ought to expose it. If by exposing it we can receive healing, we can have the courage to do so. If we lose hope in the possibility of being healed, we carry around that brokenness as bitterness.
Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
The Lord has given us words. These words lead us back to His presence, to the truth about Him, and why we are here. The words of revelation have an incredible power to bring us back to the path of truth and salvation. To follow where the words lead us force us to let go of the thoughts, practices, or words that are incompatible but have become part of our way of life. In all of this, in the pain of our conscience, the guilt and the shame, God reaches out gently and lovingly. His words purify, clarify, and give us the space to respond freely. Our response to these words is an act both inspired by and carried by grace. Grace allows the disciples of Christ to respond humbly and confidently in times of persecution. Those who are concerned about preserving their human and earthly life at all costs, who see death as the ultimate evil, are unable to cooperate with the consoling grace of God.
Immaculate Heart of Mary
We celebrate two hearts as liturgical feasts. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the deep mystery of the Incarnation: what is most central and personal in man is indistinguishable, totally one with the Word. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is also a miraculous work of God, but it defines the person of Mary and her particular role in salvation. The Immaculate Heart is the pure and transparent water of grace fully received into the heart of a woman. The waters of our life so often ebb and flow, the difficulties and struggles remove our peace and we can no longer see clearly. The Sacred Heart, existing by the divinity of the Word, is invincible on its own. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is invincible by a particular grace of God animating and raising it.