This week we share a heartfelt homily given by our pastor, Fr. John Riccardo at the funeral Mass for his beloved mother, Thelma. It speaks powerfully to the beauty of marriage and family life centered on Jesus Christ.
William Adolphe Bouguereau, Pieta, 1876
Today the Church celebrates the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. This title was given to the Virgin Mary to reflect the sorrows in her life, especially her intense suffering and grief during the passion and death of her son and our Lord, Jesus Christ.
In addition to suffering at the foot of the cross, Mary endured many sorrowful events in her life, collectively known as the Seven Sorrows (or Dolors):
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
It was Mary’s “Yes” to the Archangel Gabriel that enabled God to humble Himself, take on flesh, and launch His plan for the salvation of humanity through the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ. Mary was blessed to be the Mother of God. She was the first disciple of Jesus, carrying the Savior of the world in her womb. She indeed “found favor with God” (Lk 1:30).
Just as God asked Mary’s permission, Jesus is asking permission to dwell within you. He wants you to know His love for you. He took on human flesh so He could search for you like the shepherd searching after the one lost sheep (see Lk 15:1-7). Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household, said that all of Scripture can be reduced to just three words, “God is love.” Jesus is God’s love manifested in the flesh and He wants a personal and intimate relationship with you.
Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe (Jan. 8, 1894 – Aug. 14, 1941) died in the concentration camp at Auschwitz, during World War II, and is remembered as a “martyr of charity” for dying in place of another prisoner who had a wife and children. He was canonized by St. John Paul II on October 10, 1982. Present at the canonization was Franciszek Gajowniczek, one of the ten men from his barracks picked to suffer death by starvation as punishment for the escape of a prisoner. His life was spared when Fr. Kolbe volunteered to take his place.