FR. GENERAL'S MISSIONARY MEDITATION FINDING THE KEY
In order to interpret a piece of music, you must consider the key; otherwise, the melody does not sound right. A story might be puzzling until you figure out the right key to interpret it. Pages on the internet at times require a password so that you can open them – and there are many other possible examples.
Likewise, in our faith, there are things that that are difficult for us to understand and there are those who deduce that certain teachings of our faith simply do not make sense. Isn’t the key which opens the door missing here? We must admit, above all, that a central element of our Christian faith is a great enigma. How do we explain the fact that the author of our way of life, Jesus the Christ, has died on a cross? In itself, that tune sounds off-key. It’s like a story that we do not know how to interpret, like a door that is locked with a key.
I must say that particularly this year, in presiding at the liturgy of Good Friday, I very much felt the darkness of the cross. At the same time, I found it easy to understand Pilate’s way of acting and that of the religious leaders; everything that they did made a certain political sense. Furthermore, they and the people who follow them dominate the story so much that they leave little space for other ideas. But then I noticed in the scene the presence of two silent persons; they almost do not move; they remain standing and they do not speak. What is unique is that they are beneath the cross itself, that is, at the center of the drama. They will be the last persons on earth to whom Jesus will speak: Mary, his mother, and John, his dearly beloved disciple. According to the final testament of Jesus, from now on, the two are going to live together in the same house.
Let us look closely at these two persons. After Good Friday, will Mary and John possess a key to interpret the events for us? I believe we need to pay attention especially to Mary – we will be doing so during this month of May. Ever since I was young, I have believed that by approaching Mary, the hidden treasures of the faith will be wide open for us.
But in what does it consist, this key that Mary – and at her side, John – can offer us? It will not be simply in the fact that Mary is the mother of Jesus and as a mother, is always going to see the positive side of her son, even in his defeat. A mother will always find a way to defend and rescue her son. If it were only that, John would not have followed this way of thinking much beyond the period of mourning. But Mary is different from other mothers. Was it not explained to her by an angel that her son came from the Spirit of God? And just as John did, Mary had experienced, in the public life of Jesus, that God was in her son, that God was speaking through him and that the very God of her fathers who was going to redeem Israel was acting at that very moment. If God promises something so great, it cannot fail! When, on Easter Sunday, John returns from his race to the empty tomb, the faith of Mary opens up to the light of day. The faith of these two in the God and Father of Jesus, in the God who is faithful to his promises, becomes the key that solves the riddle of the cross. The opaque cross becomes transparent as a sign of God’s love, now revealed and manifested – God so loved the world!
At a time like the present, when the followers of Jesus are put in the crucible, it is faith that is sorely needed. In difficult times, we realize even more that it is a precious gift that must be nurtured. A good way to nurture one’s faith is to try to live united with Mary, like the apostle John did. In the house where John and Mary live, we will find the key for resolving our confusion; we will learn here that death was not able to cling to the Crucified One, unlike everyone else. Jesus, condemned to death, is in reality one with the God of the promise. The dark and ugly covering of the cross falls away and the truth shines forth; new life is liberated and is even eternal; the way of the cross becomes the way of love. Love shines forth from faith.
All of this is found in the first cell of the Church, the community of Mary and John. Besides Our Lady, in May, the Oblate family also celebrates St. Eugene. Like the apostle John, St. Eugene too all at once found himself close to Mary when, in 1826, surprisingly he substituted the name of his congregation of Missionaries of St. Charles with Missionaries of Mary Immaculate. I like to believe that this closeness to the Virgin changed him just as it had changed John. Eugene was a “son of thunder” like John; in the home of Mary, he would strengthen not only his faith but also his love to the point that it would inundate everything, as we see it expressed in his last testament of 21 May 1861: charity, charity, charity and zeal.
In the sons and daughters of St. Eugene, since we all live in a single house with Mary Immaculate, the dynamic of that first cell of the Church, that house of Mary and John, could happen again. With Mary and John, with Mary and Eugene, “let us thank the Lord for His is good, for His mercy endures forever.” (Ps 107:1)
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