Curatio Retreat 2020
“Wounded Hearts Love Best”
Father Justin Kizewski
Homily – Saturday morning
While they were all amazed at his every deed,
Jesus said to his disciples,
“Pay attention to what I am telling you.
The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.”
But they did not understand this saying;
its meaning was hidden from them
so that they should not understand it,
and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
As Catholics, we take Saturdays to honor Our Lady, and so we do so here this morning. Saturdays are dedicated to her because of her faith on Saturday. The danger here, at least in my mind, is to mince the great richness of our Catholic faith and all of the human nuances that are part of these devotions of the Catholic faith in spite of great pain. She followed her Son co-willed, in the sense of acceptance, and in spite of the pain in watching her Son be tortured, reviled, hated, with this knowledge that He is God, the One who simultaneously was sustaining each of those sinners, whom she also loved, in existence, continuing to pour gifts on those who were afflicting him and her. And, in spite of this great pain, she stood. The hymn was “Mary was standing”; the Mother of Jesus was standing, the Stabat Mater. She was standing there, and that’s a position of strength, not to minimalize the pain of losing her Son, because we know she suffered. She suffers on account of what she sees; it is predicted by Simeon in the temple, “Your heart too a sword will pierce.” When Jesus’ heart is pierced with the lance and this moment of Divine Mercy is revealed when the blood and water come flowing from His heart, the one who feels it is Mary. He’s dead. She’s standing at the Cross. She sees the soldier take the lance and thrust it into her Son’s heart, and her heart is pierced.
We’ve been talking of this invitation to love like God loves so that our hearts might reveal His, even in our woundedness. Our Lady, who doesn’t suffer from the wounds of her own personal sins, certainly suffers from the effects of ours, and her heart mirrors His. His is pierced with a lance; hers by the sword. He is crowned with thorns; she is crowned as queen. The two hearts reflect one another, and I’m struck by how much their sufferings either anticipate, even in their own integrity, dimensions – the word I want isn’t there – the joys that are soon to come or are even simultaneously present.
I’ve had a growing devotion over these last few weeks to Our Lady of Sorrows. We just celebrated this feast a few weeks ago, and again, those seven sorrows that we’re invited to meditate on are either immediately succeeded by or even simultaneously accompanied by joy. What do I mean? Well, the seven sorrows, really quickly: The Prophecy of Simeon; that’s the first sorrow, and it’s also the Presentation in the Temple. So, the sorrows and joys – they go together, and they are indicative of the Heart of Christ and of Mary. The next sorrow, the Flight into Egypt whereby prophecies are fulfilled – there is a great act of obedience and humility on Our Lady’s part with that episode. The Angel Gabriel had come to her and invited her to share God’s plan, and knowing the heart of her husband, Joseph, her yes is his yes, so it isn’t an isolated thing. It wasn’t as though she went back and said, “Well, I made a decision for us; I hope it’s okay.” No, that’s not what happened. She knows Joseph’s heart; it’s a heart after the mind of God, a heart after God’s own Heart. Her yes is his yes, and so she accepts, but then the angel, when it comes time to flee, goes to Joseph. Even in the phrase, “and the angel departed from her,” I have sometimes used to, on occasion, imagine that the angel doesn’t come back, that she has gotten enough of what she needs in the angel’s invitation at the Incarnation to carry her through all of it, so it’s an occasion of meditation, certainly not anywhere official. But certainly we don’t have record of then when Joseph says, “Honey, we’ve got to move,” that she was also accompanied by an angel. She’s not like, “Oh, an angel told me too.” What she doesn’t say is “What? The last time, the angel talked to me.” She doesn’t say that; she follows, and now Joseph’s yes is hers.
In different human relationships, each one of these could be a wound, but by them the prophecies are fulfilled. The very next one is the loss of Jesus for three days. It corresponds to the Finding in the Temple, and by it the Lord prepares her. He is always preparing her for her unique sharing in His Passion. Three days he disappears; he is returned on the third day. What joy would have been the Finding in the Temple, and after she hears His account of all these things, she holds all these things in her heart. The episodes and the pain associated with them, she considers them, meditates on them, derives the Lord’s will from them, and she considers all of these things in her heart. So, when it would come time, she is able to share these stories. “Let me tell you about my Son’s Heart.” So she does; she tells Luke, who tells us.
This is a reflection of St. Thomas Aquinas, who is quoting St. John Chrysostom, I believe – “Upon seeing God the Father speak to the crowd gathered at Christ’s baptism, ‘This is My Beloved Son … Listen to Him,’ it is empowered to elicit the Lord’s divine power at the Wedding of Cana. One wonders why she didn’t ask for a miracle beforehand; it seems like it would be a very convenient thing to do. When things go poorly, like “Please, Son, would You take care of this?” There is no record of it, as I’m sure there would be, until the Wedding of Cana, His first miracle. Because having been given the green light by the Father, now knowing the Father’s Heart and knowing the Father’s Will, Our Lady can then go, “They have no wine,” again the Lord instructing her, forming her, preparing her to share in His Passion. “My hour has not yet come. What has your concern to do with Me?” – meaning implicitly that, when My hour does come, your concern will have a great deal of meaning for Me.
The other sorrows – the Carrying of the Cross, and we know that there is a meeting on the way between those two, consoling one another. Then the Crucifixion, He is taken down from the Cross and laid in her lap and it becomes the Pieta. Michelangelo’s Pieta is an altarpiece, and Mary is in a sense sharing in the offering of her Son, offering Him at the altar, and you could almost see Him sliding off her lap in front of the altar – her share, her participation in His offering, and the Body that is offered has all the features of a Greek god except that He’s dead. It is inviting us to participate in His Passion and so to receive divine light in the Eucharist – the Pieta. And last – Jesus is laid in the tomb and anticipates then the Resurrection. Our Lady’s heart mirrors His, loves like His, is now glorified like His, and offers us a share in His suffering, a share in His life, a share in the way He loves.