Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary – Lk 2:41-51

Make no mistake; my mother would not hesitate to give me a resounding whack if after looking for me for three days I said to her, “”Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” My mother, the saintly woman that she is, would have just given into the stress of searching for me and as punishment left me another three days “in my father’s house”.

But Mary is gentle in heart and that gentleness is communicated in words, “”Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” Even more we are told that Mary “kept all these things in her heart.”  It is this heart of a mother and disciple that today we celebrate in the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary has its origins in the middle ages but was actively promoted by St. John Eudes a native of France in the 17th century.

Mary, ‘the first disciple’ is always close to her son Jesus and so the Church honours the heart of Mary a day later after the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. While the heart of Jesus  is given to us for imitation as a heart that loved us all even though we were sinners who rejected His  unconditional love, the heart of Mary is given to us by the Church as a model of  how we should love Jesus just as Mary loved her son. Hers is an Immaculate Heart, a sinless heart and she is the only fully human person who is able to really love God in the way that he should be loved.

Make no mistake; the heart of Mary is not some romanticized religious presentation of Mary but one that fully experienced both joy and suffering. When the shepherds adored her new born baby she “pondered all these things in her heart”. When the child Jesus was lost and then found she, “kept all these things in her heart” and yes Simeon also predicted that this very “heart would be pierced by a sword”.  There could have been no greater sorrow for a mother who was also a disciple, to stand at the foot of the cross and watch her son die.

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