The Virgin Mary Brings Christ To Others, With Joy

Dear Friends,

St. Philip Neri was known to say, “If I am not home by a certain time, look for me in the brothels.”  He was a man who knew himself very well and how easily he could sin.  He also read a well-known classic joke book before saying his Mass, and at stressful times, because he knew that if he knelt down or reflected for longer moments on the reality in front of him, he would cry or levitate or be suspended in air for long periods of time.  He did not want to draw this kind of attention to himself, or the many priests and lay people who followed him.  He was known as the Apostle of Rome, for he knew everyone from the Pope down to the latest beggar, and cared for them all.

Today we celebrate a very special feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her assumption into heaven, body and soul.  She is the perfect image of the Church and of a Christian, and is the greatest of all saints.  She had no sin and did not die, as all of us will.  She is greater than Philip Neri, but in a way more simple, and perhaps easier to copy.  What does she do as a Christian that so many times evades us?  She carries Christ within herself.  She brings Christ to others, in the midst of a very normal and ordinary life.  She wasn’t the Apostle of anything.

When she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, she went with great eagerness, with zeal, with haste.  She did not go to primarily to help her in her pregnancy.  She went to announce the Good News!  What was this news?  The Messiah had come.  Christ was within her.  As soon as Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the child within her leaped for joy.  This is a sign of a Christian also!  A Christian always brings joy, as Philip Neri did. He was a great prankster.  It is not that a Christian is a great guy, or is better than the next one, or he does anything special, but he/she brings joy, because he brings Christ.  John the Baptist leaps in the womb because he senses Christ is close to him.

Maximilian Kolbe whose feast is today also had this joy.  For the two weeks that he was in the starvation bunker in Auschwitz, where he offered his life for another prisoner, the others could hear him sing Marian hymns.  Even dying, he was full of joy.

I cannot be a Christian unless I am humble, and to be humble I need to be a Christian, so we are stuck.  The humility or joy of Mary, or of any saint, is always a gift from God.  It is beautiful how Mary says almost nothing in the gospels.  She speaks only four times.  She is always silent, in prayer.  She never takes the leading role and does not give her opinion.  She only tells the servants at Cana to do whatever her Son tells them.  She describes herself as the lowly servant, the littlest of the handmaids, of the slaves.  She really thinks of herself in this way.  Let us ask her to help us to have Christ within us and to take him to others.

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