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Coming Closer to Jesus


This morning at Sunday Mass I witnessed a brief interaction that moved me. During the offertory procession, a young mother who was sitting a few pews in front of us turned her head and caught sight of her young son, maybe twelve years old, carrying up one of the gifts with a group of other children. A gentle smile lit up her face as she watched him. After the boy presented his gift and stepped aside from the priest, he turned and met his mother’s gaze. Seeing her delight in him, his face too relaxed into a joyful smile. He made his way back to her side in the pew, where she received him tenderly, and the Mass continued. On the surface this could seem like a very simple, commonplace interaction. However, as the Lord often does, He used it to speak to my heart about something deeper. Witnessing the love between this mother and her son, I was led to ponder Our Lady and Jesus in a new light.


Before Jesus began His public ministry, Mary and Jesus shared ordinary human life together for thirty years. When Jesus was a child, Mary would have tucked him into bed at night and woken Him in the morning. She would have prepared His meals for Him. I like to wonder what Jesus’ favorite meal was; Mary certainly would have known! As Jesus grew, perhaps they enjoyed going on walks together, stopping to visit different people they knew who were lonely or needed help in some way. Jesus would have shared with Mary His thoughts and the various happenings of His life. They shared everything for many years.

In human relationships, there are different degrees of sharing. If we’ve only just met someone, we usually give little more than our name and some pleasant small talk. As a relationship develops and grows, we begin to share more of ourselves, such as likes and dislikes, and our thoughts and opinions. Further on, we might share our desires, dreams, and fears. As our love grows, our gift of self also grows.


During these weeks of Lent as we prepare for Holy Week, we turn our thoughts towards the end of Jesus’ earthly life. Surely as the days of His Passion and death drew near, Jesus would have spoken of it with Mary, His Mother. And we know that during His Passion, Mary was there- faithfully loving Him as only a mother can. We often imagine a particular moment as Jesus labored under the weight of His cross when He met Mary in the crowd. How her loving gaze must have comforted and strengthened Him! And as He was dying on the cross, Mary was standing right beneath it. I imagine Him once again meeting her gaze. Although their gaze at this moment was full of sorrow, it was also full of love. Mary accompanied Jesus in a very intimate way through every moment of His life.


So, what about us? Are we meant to simply admire Mary’s love from afar, keeping the events of Jesus’ Passion distant from ourselves? Quite the opposite!


Throughout most of the year we walk with Jesus as He goes about His regular earthly ministry, which is profound and rich. But Lent is different. The purpose of these days is to re-focus our hearts to desire the one thing that matters most, which so easily becomes buried under many other desires: God.


“We exist to desire God. As Saint Augustine says, “My heart is restless until it rests in thee” … Desire is like a flame, it starts small, and it grows. Lent should fan our desire for God into a bonfire…Each one of us can enter into his own heart and look for that desire for God. It might be a little flame barely visible, or it might already be a bonfire in us. Be that as it may, we are going to see how God loved us.” (Servant of God Catherine De Hueck Doherty, “Season of Mercy”)


Before reaching the glory of His Resurrection, Jesus is extending to us a very beautiful invitation: to accompany Him in His Passion, and therefore to see up close His immeasurable love for us. In a mysterious way, if we freely choose to do so, we can take our place next to Mary as she accompanies Jesus through these days. Sometimes this idea of drawing near to suffering scares us. We would much rather share in someone’s joy. But the truth is that someone only shares their suffering with those whom they most love


We can imagine Jesus saying to each of us: “Come closer to Me during these days. Keep me company. I treasure your presence with Me. Don’t be afraid. If you come closer to Me and My cross, you will also see My immense love for you.”


Mary, take us by the hand and lead us ever deeper into the Heart of your Son, Jesus.


Sr. Thérèse, CFR

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