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May 21, 2017

The Catholic Church's air conditioning broke down, so they had to hire a man to crawl around in the ducts and figure out what was wrong.  As the man peeked down through one of the vents in the sanctuary, he saw little old Mrs. Murphy kneeling by the statue of a Mary in blue and white, apparently saying her rosary. Since the man was a fundamental born again Christian, he thought it'd be funny to try and mess with the lady's mind.  In his best authoritative voice, he said, "This is Jesus.  Your prayers will be answered."

The little old lady didn't even blink, just kept on saying her prayers. The man decided maybe she didn't hear him, and tried again.  "This is Jesus, the Son of God!  Your prayers will be answered!"

Again, she didn't react at all.  Mustering up a big breath of air, the man decided to try again.  He belted out, "This is Jesus Christ, the Son of God!  Your prayers will be answered!"

The old lady looks up and yells, "Shut up! I'm talking to your mother!"

Some years ago, one of my friends, a non-Catholic student at Newman College, asked me, "Why do you, Catholics, celebrate the birthday of Mary while the Gospel says nothing about that?"  At that time my English was not good enough to discuss the theological reasons or anything like that.  I replied, "During the war, all records of my mom's birth were destroyed.  She did not even remember exactly where or when she was born.  But we still celebrated her birthday because she did exist and she was my mother."

My friend did not give up, he said, "Mary is not your mother, even not your ancestor."  I answered him by a question, "why can you call Jesus "brother", and you cannot call Mary mother, while Jesus calls her "mother."

The New Testament mentions Mary 19 times.  Surely it wants us to discover a Mary whose role does not stop with physical maternity.  The evangelists want us to understand that the mother of Jesus is the first among those who believe, and who do the will of God, first in time to be exposed to the mystery of the Incarnation, and first because of the depth of her faith.  She heard the word of God and kept it.

Representing Mary as a statue or image, no matter how glorious, has caused us to forget that she had a normal life and that, on the level of faith, she was not free of the difficulties or of the progress that are part of the faith experience.

While insisting on the faith of Mary, the Gospel does not intend to show us an exceptional way, but suggests, on the contrary, that we use the same method.  Wherever the Gospel is announced, we should look to Mary in order to discover, with her, the requirements for a daily pilgrimage in the faith of Jesus.

Like Mary, we are also called to astonishment and joy: astonishment for what God has done for the world and for what we are for him.  And joy in the discovery that humanity is loved by God and the poor are among the first invited to God's kingdom.

Like her, we will also have days when there will be questions, anxiety, and difficulties in understanding.  These will be part of our pilgrimage and the condition for our growing.  Yet God invites us to have confidence and continue on the journey.  When we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus in the Eucharist, like Mary, we can learn to enter into the mystery of Easter, in which we must accept death in order to live.

For centuries, the Church has set aside the month of May to honour Mary.  This month, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of Fatima apparitions of Mary, we imitate her virtues, we listen to her message and ask her to intercede for us.  I wish that this month, everyone would participate in the Marian Procession on Saturday afternoons.  I wish that everyone will pray to God with Mary in the devotion of the Holy Rosary.  With her, pray for the Church, for peace in the world and for each family.