Meditation: December 6: Seventh day of the novena in honor of the Immaculate

– Fill our heart

– The need to purify oneself

– Preamble to Eternal Life

SAINT JOHN is the only apostle to have remained at the foot of the cross. Presumably for him running away made no sense and he was unable to let go of the love that filled him to the brim. He had given Jesus what was most precious to him: his heart. This is why Christ entrusted him with the greatest of his treasures. “Jesus, seeing his mother, and near her the disciple whom he loved, said to his mother: “Woman, here is your son”. Then he said to the disciple: “Here is your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home” (Jn 19:26-27). At this moment, it is as if Jesus were completing this beatitude: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Mt 5:8). The pure in heart will not only see him, but will also receive his mother in their own house (cf. Jn 19:27). “In giving himself filially to Mary, the Christian, like the apostle John, ‘welcomes the Mother of Christ among his own things’ and brings her into the whole space of his interior life, that is to say into his human and Christian “me”” [1].

We know that, in the Bible, by heart is meant not only the sentimental sphere, but the most intimate place of man, that which defines the person himself. In Saint John we see a passionate heart because he is not content to fill it with just any reality. In good times and bad, he seeks what is true, what is noble, what reflects the love of God he has experienced in Jesus. The psalmist expresses this reality which is within everyone’s reach: “My heart has told me again your word: ‘Seek my face’. It is your face, Lord, that I seek: do not hide your face from me” (Ps 26:8-9). Only God can fully satisfy the desires of the human heart. This is why, when John met him, he was able to exclaim like Job: “I knew you by hearsay, but now my eyes have seen you” (Jb 42, 5). On this seventh day of the novena in honor of the Immaculate Conception, we can cultivate with the Virgin Mary the desire to seek the face of Jesus. The Lord once said: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt 6:21). It is precisely his Mother who helps us to discover that “the most precious good we can have in life is our relationship with God”. [2].

IN THE GOSPEL, unlike Saint John and Mary, there are characters who, although having Jesus before them, do not recognize him. This is the case of the disciples of Emmaus. They were talking about the recent death of the Lord when “Jesus himself approached and walked with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing him” (Lk 24:15-16). God wanted to heal the inner blindness that prevented these disciples from understanding what had happened in Jerusalem and from believing in him. This is why Jesus goes out to meet them, and does so again today with us. We are not groping in the dark, we are not wandering in vain seeking what might be right, we are not like sheep without a shepherd who do not know where the right path is. God showed up. He himself shows us the way. Jesus, at the end of a day that began with a rebuke, will open the eyes of the disciples—”Spirits without intelligence! How slow is your heart to believe all that the prophets have said!” (Lk 24:25) — and will end with the breaking of the bread.

By the grace of God and because of her delicate response, Mary did not experience the interior blindness that comes from sin. She didn’t always understand all the events, but her senses were clear and open to divine wisdom. This is why she was able to find the meaning of her existence in the child she conceived and whom, disarmed, she held in her arms. It helps us to purify our gaze in order to recognize Christ who is passing through our life. Human weakness and the wound of sin lead us to evaluate history from simple, worldly categories, and to hope for false promises that leave our hearts sad because they are not God’s promises. Mary can accompany us in these days of the novena in the noble battle “against the interior disappointments that our sins generate. Because sins change the inner vision, they change the evaluation of things, they show things that are not true, or at least not so true” [3].

This need to purify the heart is not a humiliation. On the contrary, it leads us to rekindle the desire to see the face of Jesus. All saints have gone through this experience. Saint Peter did not respond to Christ’s call by extolling his merits and his talents, but by recognizing his blindness: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Lk 5:8). And in this sense, Saint Josemaría wrote: “The Mother of God, who is also my Mother, I crown her with my purified miseries, because I possess neither precious stones nor virtues”. [4]. Recognizing that we are sinners is the first step towards purity of heart, which in turn allows us to rediscover the face of our Lord, so similar to that of his Mother.

IT MIGHT seem that the bliss concerning pure hearts and the sight of God refers to the contemplation that we will attain only in the future life. It is as if we have to wait for heaven to receive the reward of purity of heart. However, this promise of Jesus allows us to also savor the presence of God on earth. The Catechism of the Church says that “purity of heart is the prerequisite for vision. From today, it enables us to see according to God, to receive others as a “neighbour”; it allows us to perceive the human body, our own and that of our neighbour, as a temple of the Holy Spirit, a manifestation of divine beauty” [5].

Mary was not always able to see her Son face to face. In fact, she spent some time without him after Ascension. However, she did not forget the mission he had entrusted to her before dying on the cross: “Woman, here is your son”. From that moment, she welcomed into her pure heart all men of all times, and in each of them she recognized the very face of Jesus. She no longer saw simply “persons”, but children for whom her Son gave his life.

Purity of heart leads us to see God in everything that happens to us. First, in every person. We are created for a love that does not look at others as if they were an object available for our use, someone we can dominate according to our interest or even at the mercy of our whim. It is rather the benevolent love that Saint Paul describes: patient, kind, generous, humble… (cf. 1 Cor 13, 4-8). A love, in short, that manages to see the image of Christ in each person; the same love that shaped the life of the Immaculate Conception. “Is there a more human heart than that of a creature overflowing with supernatural sense? Think of Saint Mary, full of grace, Daughter of God the Father, Mother of God the Son, Spouse of God the Holy Spirit: there is room in her Heart for all humanity without differences or discriminations. “Each one is for Her a son, a daughter” [6].

[1]. Saint John Paul II, Redemptoris MaterNo. 45.

[2]. Pope Francis, MessageJanuary 31, 2015.

[3]. Pope Francis, General audience1er April 2020.

[4]. Saint Josemaría, ForgeNo. 285.

[5].Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2519.

[6]. Saint Josemaría, furrowNo. 801.

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Meditation: December 6: Seventh day of the novena in honor of the Immaculate

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