Friday, October 07, 2005

a homily on the memorial of our lady of the rosary

[Readings: Joel 1:13-15; 2:1-2 and Luke 11:15-26]

It may seem a bit odd to hear the words from the first reading today, because we typically hear those words on Ash Wednesday. And these are words suitable for Lent: these words of mourning and of sorrow.

But perhaps today God is calling us to see some value in mourning. Not necessarily mourning only for our loved ones who have passed away, but mourning for ourselves and for the world. What does this type of mourning look like? And so what should we mourn for?

The spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen wrote something about this type of mourning several years ago. And this is what he wrote:

Mourn, mourn my people. Let your pain rise up in your heart and burst forth in you with sobs and cries. Mourn for the silence that exists between you and your spouse. Mourn for the way you were robbed of your innocence. Mourn for the absence of a soft embrace, an intimate friendship, a life-giving sexuality. Mourn for the abuse of your body, your mind, your heart. Mourn for the bitterness of your children, the indifference of your friends, your colleagues’ hardness of heart. Mourn for those whose hunger for love brought them AIDS, whose desire for freedom brought them to refugee camps, whose hunger for justice brought them to prisons. Cry for the millions who dies from lack of food, lack of care, lack of love....

Don’t think of this as normal, something to be taken for granted, something to accept....

Think of it as the dark force of Evil that has penetrated every human heart, every family, every community, every nation, and keeps you imprisoned. Cry for freedom, for salvation, for redemption. Cry loudly and deeply, and trust that your tears will make your eyes see that the Kingdom is close at hand, yes, at your fingertips.

Nouwen then tells us to mourn so that we do not accept as normal the pain that we see so often on this earth. Mourning and crying like this for this world is to see hate, indifference, violence, and injustice for what they really are: they are evil, living among and at times within us. And because of that, we and this world are in need of redemption. And we mustn’t get used to them and accept them as normal.

But rather we should consider them as defeated: that Christ, through his life, death, and resurrection has broken the bonds of sin and death and has set us free. And we are called to claim this victory.

Whenever we pray the rosary, and come to the end, we always recite the Hail, Holy Queen, The Salve Regina. And in that prayer, this attitude of holy mourning is expressed: “Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy, to you we cry poor banished children of Eve, to you we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.” This prayer captures the value of mourning everytime we pray the rosary.

But later in the prayer, we also say, “Turn then your eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb Jesus.” When we pray this prayer and mourn this way---for ourselves and the world---we are acknowledging that we are all in exile, that this world where evil sometimes seem to thrive is not ultimately our home.

Rather, the world which Jesus proclaimed in the Gospel today, where he spoke about the Kingdom of God coming upon us, is in the future for all of us: that world, in which we will all see with our very eyes the glory of the blessed fruit of Mary’s womb, Jesus Christ.

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