My Dear Sisters and Brothers! You have gathered in this church of yours, which is also a shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, as today we celebrate her feast. Every time you come here you see the image of Mary who holds the Infant Jesus and the Holy Scapular. In the Gospel passage we heard of Jesus stretching his arm too. He pointed to his disciples. Then he said: “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” These words of the Saviour recapture that profound moment in Nazareth when Mary declared in the presence of the Archangel Gabriel: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
We call her the Mother of God because she gave birth to the Son of the Almighty. That’s how the people in the Gospel today introduced her. However her Divine Son revealed her motherhood on a deeper level. That’s the level of humanity where one searches for the will of God in order to be committed to it. That day in Nazareth Mary prophetically verbalised and immediately put into practise what her Son later revealed to his disciples: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.”
That deeper level of Mary’s motherhood made her also an example of a Christian, a disciple of Jesus, a follower of Jesus. Discerning the will of God in a particular situation requires some growing familiarity with God’s word and with God’s presence. St Luke in his Gospel described it by saying that “Mary treasured all these words in her heart.” However the way she treasured God’s word was transformative. St Luke wrote: “She pondered them in her heart.” We may think that pondering is like reflecting on something in a quiet room. Let me give you a situation from Mary’s life where we can see her pondering in the Biblical way.
It was when she witnessed Jesus on the cross. There she was exposed to a grave injustice, to such a dehumanizing hatred. Some people imagine her in despair there. But the Apostle John wrote that the Mother of Jesus “was standing there.” She didn’t faint out of desolation. She was pondering what she was witnessing. She was imitating her Son who was absorbing the evil which was directed on him. Like her Son Jesus Christ she was absorbing evil. However filled with the Holy Spirit she was not transmitting the evil on but she, who was full of grace, allowed it to be transformed within her. That’s the meaning of Biblical pondering. That’s also a call addressed to all of us who desire to be called Jesus’ sisters and brothers.
All of us on this planet are exposed to the consequences of original sin which has disfigured us as individuals and as a community. It has also disfigured the nature. As Christians we are not protected from the exposure to the consequences of original sin. We are exposed to them like all people but we are called to ponder them like Mary and with Mary. We are called to be stoppers of the evil we experience not transmitters of it.
You may be familiar with the TV series called Revenge, a fictional story of a young woman who meticulously works on paying back for the injustice which was inflicted on her family by some people. She keeps the memory of the evil done to her folks alive in her heart and mind but it cannot be called pondering. She transmits the evil on to others. It is a fictional story but we can detect the pattern of transmitting experienced evil present in our life as well.
Dear Sisters and Brothers of Jesus! Look on the image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Make home for her Son Jesus Christ in your heart, mind and soul. Then believe that you are well equipped to ponder what happens to you. We need to be filled with the Word of God, we need to treasure it, otherwise the various forms of evil we are exposed to will eat us up from within or we will transmit it on.
I also encourage you to accept the Holy Scapular and to wear it. It is not a talisman. It is a call and task to imitate Jesus Christ. If you commit yourself to this call and task, be assured that Mary will be support you in your pondering.