The Malta Independent 23 July 2019, Tuesday

Hand in hand with Mary

Sunday, 17 March 2019, 08:22 Last update: about 5 months ago

The pastoral letter issued by Mgr Charles J. Scicluna, Mgr Mario Grech and Mgr Joseph Galea-Curmi for Lent, which was read in all Masses in the first week of Lent, lovingly puts me in Mary's secure hands. 

I must congratulate our dear Pastors for the sensitive way they wrote this letter because it shows their fatherly heart. As they rightly pinpointed at the beginning, we are yes "a nation that loves the home". In fact, in each and every home one finds "stories of delightful families, stories of great generosity; incredible stories of parents sacrificing everything for their children, particularly when a child has special needs; stories of heroism in the face of a grave illness".


On the other hand, we need to acknowledge, as the Bishops say, that "there are homes where stories have been written that you wish never needed to be written: (elderly) parents abandoned by their children; open wounds inflicted by domestic violence or abuse; or heartbreak caused by a failed marriage. There are people who even had to move because gossiping neighbours became unbearable. Then there are homes stricken by abject poverty and homes where death plucked the life that had only just started to bloom like a rose".

How can we overcome the modern day plagues that harm our families? And what do we say to families that common gossip made them believe they are not worthy to receive Jesus because they are bad people? The Bishops tell us to follow Jesus' example. What did Jesus do when he met an injured family like that of Zacchaeus? Did he abandon him? Did he join in the gossip and kept condemning him? Certainly not! Indeed, "the story of Zacchaeus not only illustrates that Jesus also enters the home of the public sinner shunned by everyone, but he even invites himself in. Jesus does not enter because everything is in order, but rather order ensues once Jesus enters our dwelling."

.To facilitate Jesus' entry into our homes, (including convents of course), we need to let Mary in. As the Bishops exhort us, "emulate the bride and bridegroom at Cana and do not be frightened to take Mary home. For wherever Mary goes, she takes Jesus with her. She helps us taste the goodness of the love that Christ has for everyone, but most especially for people who are heartbroken to see their house 'collapse' all around them". When we are trying to cope with life's problems, like "when there is discord among siblings, when a parent loses employment, when a member of the family is stricken with drug addiction, when marriage vows are broken, when the future of the family is on shaky ground, when religious practice dwindles down, which contributes to the collapse of the foundations of faith, and other challenges", Mary reminds us to do the one thing necessary: "Do whatever he tells you'" (John 2:5).

When we follow her advice, we start slowly, slowly finding out that society, trust in institutions, respect for human life from conception, protection of the environment, transparency and accountability, start creeping in. Let us not forget that Mary's advice makes a lot of sense because she had to face enormous challenges in her life with Joseph, her husband, such as, lack of understanding and crisis of faith. The many tales she heard about Elizabeth and the painful gossip she heard about her son when they called him 'a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners' (Mt 11:19), or when she overheard her neighbours declare that Jesus 'has gone out of his mind' (Mk 3:21)."

The greatest life lesson I learnt from this pastoral letter is to pray the Rosary daily. As the Bishops say: "We must remember that the Rosary is the prayer that leads us to meditate on Jesus and it is most precious to Mary. Therefore, we invite all our families to pray this beautiful prayer often." Through the daily prayer of the Rosary, "life ... overcomes death, the grace ... frees from sin, the hope ... lifts sadness, forgiveness ... binds the wounds of the broken-hearted, the joy ... banishes sorrow, the peace ... ends all hostilities." By the Rosary, Jesus shines in and among us when we are hand in hand with Mary.


Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap


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