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Our Mother’s Heart
Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Each year Jesus’s parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.
Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
Opening Prayer: Dear Mary, thank you for keeping the stories about Jesus in your Immaculate Heart. Pray for me, dear Mother, that I may have a heart like yours, a heart that is open to receiving Christ and bearing him to the world.
- Losing and Finding: Many parents have experienced the preteen years, around age twelve, as a time when they experience “losing” their little child while also “finding” a glimpse of the adult that he or she will become. We can imagine Mary and Joseph having this experience with Jesus in this Gospel passage. When they found the boy Jesus in the temple, he was listening and questioning the teachers there, showing the depth of his knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, even at his young age. Notice that Mary and Jesus both talked about his father. Mary told Jesus that she and his father, Joseph, had been looking for him. Jesus replied that he “must be in my Father’s house,” referring to God the Father. This may have been one of the first revelations of Jesus’s true identity as the Son of God after his miraculous birth. This thought may have been an additional pain to Mary and Joseph as they realized in a more profound way how they would soon have to give him up (or “lose” him) to his divine purpose.
- She Kept These Things: Mary did not dwell on her anxiety or sadness about losing Jesus or what his mission would hold for him. Instead, she “kept” or “pondered” these things in her Immaculate Heart. We can learn to ponder in our hearts like Mary, too. Pondering implies contemplation, which is the act of considering something thoughtfully for a length of time. When we find ourselves ruminating on a problem, emotion, or situation, we can try to move it out of our head and into our heart to ponder and pray about it. Praying the rosary daily is an excellent way to move things that trouble or concern us from our head, through our hands, to the beads of the rosary, and into our heart to ponder. Once there, we can invite Jesus and Mary to console us and ask the Holy Spirit to bring us the gifts we need to deal with the situation or emotion at hand. The rosary is also meant for contemplating the mysteries of Christ’s life. This is exactly what Mary was doing when she kept the mysterious events of Jesus’s life in her heart. These stories must have come through Mary to Luke, whose Gospel holds most of the infancy narratives. How else would Luke have learned what happened at the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation of Jesus, and the Finding of the Child Jesus? We have these precious memories of Jesus’s childhood because of our Mother Mary’s heart, which kept them safe to reveal to us.
- A Heart Like Mary’s: Mary told St. Bernadette at Lourdes, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” The image of Mary’s Immaculate Heart is surrounded by white flowers, pierced with a sword, and crowned with flames. Our beautiful Mother’s heart is burning with love for God, her Father; the Holy Spirit, her spouse; and Jesus, her beloved Son. It blooms with white flowers because it is fruitful, beautiful, and completely pure. It is pierced with a sword because of the pain she endured watching her Son suffer and die for us, recalling the words of Simeon: “a sword will pierce through your own soul also” (Luke 2:35). May our hearts be like hers, full of love for God and others; pure, fruitful, and beautiful; and not afraid to suffer for Our Lord.
Conversing with Christ: Dear Jesus, thank you for the gift of our Blessed Mother. Thank you for preserving her as the Immaculate Conception. Thank you for giving Mary as a mother to St. John and to us, her children, for all generations. What a generous gift you gave us from the cross. Help me to love and honor Mary as my mother. Give me the gifts of the Holy Spirit to help me imitate her virtues.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray a rosary, asking Mary to give me a heart like hers.
For Further Reflection: Read this article from the National Catholic Register: “Sister Lucia Explains Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Is a ‘Must.’”
Written by Carey Boyzuck.