Well, it certainly has been a busy liturgical week. First, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and then Mary’s followed by the eleventh Sunday. A day devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus always takes me by surprise, because to me all of Christianity is a celebration of that Sacred Heart. It took a bit of digging to find the reason for the formal declaration of that feast, and then a little more research to understand a few of the technical terms. The feast of the Sacred heart of Jesus was introduced to counteract some of the theology of the Calvinists and Jansenism that was popular in the 16 and 17 centuries. What took some research was learning a little about these movements, I have never been a member of either group and confess I have little interest in them. Both are described as Christian movements that were noted for their lack of Joy, to some they are the Christianity’s of eternal damnation and that is a variant I am most unfamiliar with. It causes me to pause when I encounter a Christianity without joy, but then to enter into the feast of the sacred Heart of Mary while pondering eternal damnation leaves me flabbergasted. If one cannot see the joy in either Christ or Mary, one is simply blind to the faith.
Christ after all enters the world with the jubilant display of Christmas, his annunciation is accepted by Mary with “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior. ” The sacred heart of Jesus without a doubt enters into creation joyfully. That whole idea of a joyless Christianity left my head spinning. When I entered Mary’s feast day, I remained dazed, but began to ponder both her day and Christ’s through the rosary. As I approached that thought of joyless Christianity, I meditated in the joyful mysteries of the rosary and they are the mysteries that so describe Mary. The Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Presentation and fining of Jesus in the temple. They are the mysteries that always remind me no matter how much darkness there is, the Joyful is just around the corner.
Mary, and the sacred heart of Mary, is all about joyfully accepting Jesus, and being faithfully committed to God. Why then would Mary accept Christ with Joy, if He was to be all about morbidity? Quite the contrast, Jesus declares himself “the bread of life.” He declares himself “the way, truth, and life.” He tells those concerned with death to “let the dead bury the dead.” His was a ministry of life abd vitality, brimming with so much life that He could even bring the dead back to life. A doom and gloom Christianity I do not understand.
“To what shall we compare the kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
From these two great celebrations, I approach a Sunday of ordinary time. On this Sunday the mustard seed enters into the season for the first time, the smallest of seeds that becomes the largest of plants, and so often associated with faith. It tells of what one could accomplish if they have faith the size of a mustard seed. Again, I turn to the sacred heart of Mary to look at her faith. Her faith, and faith is likened to a mustard seed, was the joyful acceptance of God into her life despite the consequences. From her acceptance of the will of God at the Annunciation, which was a demonstration of her faith in God, came salvation. The Passion of Christ is Gods love for humanity. Our salvation is at the very heart of Jesus!
Faith the size of a mustard seed, became the size of the mightiest of trees. To look at what faith the size of a mustard seed can do, one only has to look at the faith in the Sacred Heart of Mary at the annunciation and all it has accomplished. It was her faith that introduced us to that Sacred Heart of Jesus, and today is the model of how to approach Christ. Faith the size of a mustard seed becomes the mightiest of trees. It was her faith that became the model of the Church.