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home : from the bishop : from the bishop January 22, 2019

Bishop O'Connell's homily for the Mass he celebrated for the feast of the Miraculous Medal

Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M.

Shrine of the Miraculous Medal in Germantown
November 25, 2015

The Lord Jesus began his public ministry at the Wedding feast of Cana, the scene of today’s Gospel reading.  St. John makes a point of writing: the “Mother of Jesus was there.”  We cannot help but notice this phrase and her presence.  She was with the Lord Jesus at his first public appearance and first miracle, just as she was with him at the first moments of his human life in his conception and birth; just as she was with him at the final moments of his human life, underneath the Cross at his Crucifixion on Calvary.  Before he died, as he glanced down through his tears, she became his enduring gift to St. John and to us all, “Behold Your Mother.” As his lifeless body was placed in her arms, through her tears, she could whisper: “this is my body, this is my blood.”  He was her Eucharist. 

We don’t know much about the years they spent together from the time he was lost and found in the temple in Jerusalem at the age of 12 and his appearance in today’s Gospel in Cana at the age of 30.  That hidden life is left to our imagination.  All we do know is what St. Luke tells us, that he went down with Mary and Joseph “to Nazareth and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2: 51-52).”

He was “obedient” to his Mother Mary in Nazareth as he grew and she, in turn, asked the servants at the Wedding Feast to be obedient to him, “Do whatever he tells you.” The one to whom he became obedient continues to say to us, “Do whatever he tells you.”

It is amazing, this relationship between Mother and Son, between Mother and the Messiah, between Mother and the Lord of Heaven and Earth.  Amazing, yes, but not surprising.  Both were chosen by God the Father for a Mission to humanity, although with connected yet different roles.  Both were without sin, although living together among and subject to sinners.  Both shared the same flesh and blood and human nature, although Jesus alone was Divine.  Both remained near to each other in the course of their human lives, bound by place and time, although they continue to dwell together in boundless eternity: one as a Mother, “clothed with the sun, with the moon at her feet,” crowned with twelve stars in glory, interceding for humankind and the other, as the One to whom she gave birth and yet, to whom as her Child she intercedes on our behalf, urging us “Do whatever he tells you.”

We come together today at the conclusion of this Novena, joined by the same medal we all wear around our necks, a truly “miraculous medal.”  The miracles that come our way because of that medal --- miracles and stories as different as each one of us in this Shrine --- miracles that all have something in common: they begin with a Mother’s heart, with a Mother’s love with a Mother’s faith, with a Mother who brings us in all our needs known only to us and her, to the heart of her Son, to her Son who knows what we need before we even whisper or ask, and who, alone answers our prayers.

St. Catherine Laboure, a novice Daughter of Charity, could never have imagined what Mary’s appearance to her in that Chapel in Paris in 1830 would mean to the world.  Mary did.  And that is why she gave us her medal.  “Ever while wearing it, may we be blessed by her loving protection and preserved in the grace of her Son.”  We who are one and all “children of the medal,” are the witnesses of her protection and of his grace.  What greater miracle could we need?  Now, listen to Mary whose medal you wear and “do whatever he tells you.”

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