Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Gospel passage for today’s feast is Luke’s account of the finding of Jesus in the temple, a selection I initially found strange, but then realized it is actually quite a perfect fit.
Any mother who has ever “lost” her child – i.e., all of us at one point or another – appreciate that Gospel scene. The horror of Mary when she realizes her son is not with the caravan. Her relief when he is found. And her realization (at his cryptic reply that he must be in his Father’s house) that ultimately, her son must leave her and follow his own path.
I sat this morning with that passage and with the image of the heart of Mary – the heart of a mother. I know that heart:
The heart that wants to see you child fly even while fearing her falls.
The heart that wants to hold her close even while knowing she needs to roam.
The heart that knows she will suffer injuries you cannon heal with a kiss and a bandaid.
The heart that knows you will cease to be able to know what is best for her and have to rely on her judgments.
A mother’s heart. Something worth celebrating.
In one of my various google searches, I by chance came upon this poem the other day, by an unknown author. I suspect my being a mother was part of what made it so striking to me, but I don’t one has to be a mother to appreciate the power of this encounter.
Long time ago, so I have been told,
Two angels once met on streets paved with gold.
“By the stars in your crown,” said the one to the other
“I see that on earth, you too, were a mother.
And by, the blue-tinted halo you wear
“You, too, have known sorrow and deepest despair…”
“Ah yes,” she replied, “I once had a son,
A sweet little lad, full of laughter and fun.”
“But tell of your child.” “Oh, I knew I was blessed
From the moment I first held him close to my breast,
And my heart almost burst with the joy of that day.”
“Ah, yes,” said the other, “I felt the same way.”
The former continued: “The first steps he took-
So eager and breathless; the sweet startled look
Which came over his face – he trusted me so.”
“Ah, yes,” said the other, “How well do I know”
“But soon he had grown to a tall handsome boy,
So stalwart and kind – and it gave me so much joy
To have him just walk down the street by my side”
“Ah yes, “said the other mother,
“I felt the same pride.”
“How often I shielded and spared him from pain
And when he for others was so cruelly slain.
When they crucified him – and they spat in his face
How gladly would I have hung there in his place!”
A moment of silence – “Oh then you are she –
The mother of Christ”; and she fell on one knee.
But the Blessed one raised her up, drawing her near,
And kissed from the cheek of the woman, a tear.
“Tell me the name of the son you love so,
That I may share with your grief and your woe.”
She lifted her eyes, looking straight at the other,
“He was Judas Iscariot: I am his mother.”