|“In His name, the Gentiles will find hope.” —Matthew 12:21|
As we begin the third millennium, with much of the world ensconced in the culture of death after ending the last with the only two world wars in history, the Lord is calling us to hope in Him. The Church through Pope Pius XII defined the doctrine of Mary’s Assumption in 1950. After all the centuries this doctrine was preached and believed, the Church chose to define it in 1950 as a proclamation of hope. Vatican II’s great document on the Church concludes by proclaiming Mary as the “sign of sure hope” (Lumen Gentium, 68). Pope St. John Paul II introduced the Catechism of the Catholic Church with the Scripture: “Venerate the Lord, that is, Christ, in your hearts. Should anyone ask you the reason for this hope of yours, be ever ready to reply” (1 Pt 3:15). Pope St. John Paul II prophetically named one of his books Crossing the Threshold of Hope. “In hope we were saved. But hope is not hope if its object is seen; how is it possible for one to hope for what he sees? And hoping for what we cannot see means awaiting it with patient endurance” (Rm 8:24-25).
Hear the prophecy of hope. Be a sign of hope. Be a prophet of hope. “This hope will not leave us disappointed, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us” (Rm 5:5).
|Prayer: Father, may I be motivated by hope.|
|Promise: “This was a night of vigil for the Lord, as He led them out of the land of Egypt; so on this same night all the Israelites must keep a vigil for the Lord throughout their generations.” —Ex 12:42|
|Praise: St. Mary Magdalene hoped to find Jesus’ body at the tomb and incredibly found the risen Lord. She evangelized the first pope (Jn 20:18).|
|From a homily on the Gospels
Gregory the Great, pope
[ 540 – 604 A.D. ]
We should reflect on Mary’s attitude and the great love she felt for Christ; for though the disciples had left the tomb, she remained. She was still seeking the one she had not found, and while she sought she wept; burning with the fire of love, she longed for him who she thought had been taken away. And so it happened that the woman who stayed behind to seek Christ was the only one to see him. For perseverance is essential to any good deed, as the voice of truth tells us: Whoever perseveres to the end will be saved.When Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and did not find the Lord’s body, she thought it had been taken away and so informed the disciples. After they came and saw the tomb, they too believed what Mary had told them. The text then says: The disciples went back home, and it adds: but Mary wept and remained standing outside the tomb.
At first she sought but did not find, but when she persevered it happened that she found what she was looking for. When our desires are not satisfied, they grow stronger, and becoming stronger they take hold of their object. Holy desires likewise grow with anticipation, and if they do not grow they are not really desires. Anyone who succeeds in attaining the truth has burned with such a great love. As David says: My soul has thirsted for the living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God? And so also in the Song of Songs the Church says: I was wounded by love; and again: My soul is melted with love.
Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek? She is asked why she is sorrowing so that her desire might be strengthened; for when she mentions whom she is seeking, her love is kindled all the more ardently.
Jesus says to her: Mary. Jesus is not recognised when he calls her “woman”; so he calls her by name, as though he were saying: Recognise me as I recognise you; for I do not know you as I know others; I know you as yourself. And so Mary, once addressed by name, recognises who is speaking. She immediately calls him rabboni, that is to say, teacher, because the one whom she sought outwardly was the one who inwardly taught her to keep on searching.
|“Come to Me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you.” —Matthew 11:28|
Imagine yourself coming to Jesus with this huge burden on your back. Jesus takes the burden off your shoulders (see Ps 81:7). Before you even can thank Him and walk away unburdened, He takes a humongous burden off of His back and puts it on yours. Now you’ve got more to carry than ever before. For some reason, however, His yoke is easy and His burden light (Mt 11:30). Because this is Jesus’ burden, He is bearing most of the weight. You are another Simon of Cyrene helping Jesus carry the cross (Lk 23:26). You’re made to carry this cross. You’re rested and strengthened in carrying this cross. You come to a point where you boast of nothing but the cross of Jesus Christ (Gal 6:14).
Realistically, we cannot be unburdened in this life on earth. We can only be re-burdened with Jesus’ burden, the cross. Pretending that we can unburden ourselves makes life more burdensome. We make life harder by trying to make it easier. Paradoxically, the heaviest burden, that is, the cross, is the easiest to carry because Jesus carried it. It is in striving to carry the cross that we enter into His rest (see Heb 4:11). Take up your cross daily (Lk 9:23) and get the best rest you’ll get on this earth.
|Prayer: Father, give me both earthly and eternal rest.|
|Promise: “I am concerned about you and about the way you are being treated in Egypt.” —Ex 3:16|
|Praise: After St. Apollinaris was exiled and martyred, many miracles were attributed to him.|
|From the treatise On the Mysteries
Saint Ambrose, bishop
[ 337 – 397 A.D. ]
It is wonderful that God rained manna on our fathers and they were fed with daily food from heaven. And so it is written: Man ate the bread of angels. Yet those who ate that bread all died in the desert. But the food that you receive, that living bread which came down from heaven, supplies the very substance of eternal life, and whoever will eat it will never die, for it is the body of Christ.Fresh from the waters and resplendent in these garments, God’s holy people hasten to the altar of Christ, saying: I will go in to the altar of God, to God who gives joy to my youth. They have sloughed off the old skin of error, their youth renewed like an eagle’s, and they make haste to approach that heavenly banquet. They come and, seeing the sacred altar prepared, cry out: You have prepared a table in my sight. David puts these words into their mouths: The Lord is my shepherd and nothing will be lacking to me. He has set me down there in a place of pasture. He has brought me beside refreshing water. Further on, we read: For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I shall not be afraid of evils, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff have given me comfort. You have prepared in my sight a table against those who afflict me. You have made my head rich in oil, and your cup, which exhilarates, how excellent it is.
Consider now which is the more excellent: the bread of angels or the flesh of Christ, which is indeed the body that gives life. The first was manna from heaven, the second is above the heavens. One was of heaven, the other is of the Lord of the heavens; one subject to corruption if it was kept till the morrow, the other free from all corruption, for if anyone tastes of it with reverence he will be incapable of corruption. For our fathers, water flowed from the rock; for you, blood flows from Christ. Water satisfied their thirst for a time; blood cleanses you for ever. The Jew drinks and still thirsts, but when you drink you will be incapable of thirst. What happened in symbol is now fulfilled in reality.
If what you marvel at is a shadow, how great is the reality whose very shadow you marvel at. Listen to this, which shows that what happened in the time of our fathers was but a shadow. They drank, it is written, from the rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. All this took place as a symbol for us. You know now what is more excellent: light is preferable to its shadow, reality to its symbol, the body of the Giver to the manna he gave from heaven.