Homily, Saturday of the Easter Octave
Fr. Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA
Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament,
7am Mass, 18 April 2009
This week during the Easter Octave, we’ve been hearing the various accounts on the apparitions of our Lord. We’ve heard one where He appeared to Mary Magdalene and He also appeared to the disciples on their way to Emmaus. It was yesterday when we heard how He appeared to the seven disciples on the seashore where He prepared them breakfast, and also to the disciples in the upper room after the two, who were going toward Emmaus, returned and retold the story to them. He appeared to them and ate in front of them.
Today is Saturday, a Marian day dedicated to our Blessed Mother. We wonder why there is no account of why our Lord did not appear to Mary, His Mother. All the disciples fled when our Lord was captured in the Garden. But His Mother Mary was the one who is ever-faithful to the end. Why would Jesus not appear to His mother after His resurrection? Now just because it’s not reported in the Scripture, it does not mean that we can conclude it did not happen. In a way, it would be common sense — it would be logical if the Lord Jesus appeared to His Mother, Mary, as well. St. Ignatius of Loyola’s famous book, The Spiritual Exercises has several meditations on the Resurrection and one of them deals with what he thought that was our Lord’s very first appearance after rising from the dead would have been an appearance to His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Again, it’s not mentioned in the Gospel; it’s not mentioned anywhere in St. Paul’s letter or any other letters in the New Testament, but according to St. Ignatius he would consider it as common sense for the event to take place. Of course, we heard the account about how the women on the morning of Easter Sunday walked to the tomb and how they were preparing to anoint the dead body of our Lord. From that list, Mary’s name does not appear. The readers of that account might wonder why she did not go with them as she had done at the burial. Maybe it was because our Lord had already risen and appeared to her.
One of the things that we also learned this week during these various apparitions, including today’s, in most of them we learn how much of a struggle and how difficult it was for the disciples to believe in the Risen Lord. Yet the Lord had prophesied that He would rise again from the dead, yet these disciples had difficulty in believing it. Our Lord rebuked them for their unbelief. Our Lord rebuked them for their hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw Him after He had been raised. Of course, unlike the disciples, our Blessed Mother’s great virtue is faith. She believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled. She heard Her Son say that the Son of Man will be killed and would rise on the third day. She heard Her Son say destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in three days. She believed in Her Son’s word. She pondered and meditated in her heart often Her Son’s word. And of course, she has this great faith, the greatest faith of all our faith put together, the greatest faith of all. Of course, she has it because of what her Son accomplished on Calvary. All the great things that Mary has: her Immaculate Conception, her sinlessness from the moment of her conception all the way to death. All of that is because of what our Lord has accomplished on Calvary.
When Jesus finally appeared, we can imagine how lovingly she embraced Him with abundant tears of joy in her maternal eyes in seeing her Risen Son appear again; and how our Lord must have leaned down toward His Mother, whom He loves very dearly, in order to plant a kiss upon the face of His mother. From that moment when He appeared to her in the splendor of His Glorified Body, her heart must have been filled with such a great fullness of joy that it has never again abandoned it. That’s why we call her Mother of our Joy, the Cause of our Joy. We often remind her: Queen of Heaven rejoice for He has risen from the dead.
John Paul II gave several Marian catechesis. Specifically April 3, 1996, this particular General Audience he titled it that Mary was a witness to the Paschal Mystery and he touched that very point that I am mentioning this morning about the legitimacy of our Lord’s appearance to His Holy Mother. John Paul II mentions how the silence in the Gospel, the silence in the New Testament must not lead to the conclusion that after the Resurrection Christ did not appear to Mary this day. Rather, it invites us to seek the reasons why the evangelist made such a choice. The silence could be attributed to the fact that what is necessary for our saving knowledge was entrusted to the word of those chosen by God as witnesses; that is, the apostles who gave their testimony of the Lord Jesus’ resurrection with great power. He also added that if the Gospel writers or if any of the New Testament writers include such an appearance of our Lord to His Mother it would have been considered too biased by those who denied the Lord’s resurrection, and therefore it’s not worthy of belief. Going back to what I said earlier, just because it’s not recorded it does not mean that it did not happen. St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians mentioned how the Lord appeared to more than 500 brethren at one time. This was not included in any of the Gospels. So our Lord must have appeared to our Blessed Mother after His resurrection. One of the things that John Paul II said was that she was present at Calvary on Good Friday and she was present in the upper room on Pentecost. The Blessed Virgin, too, he said was probably a privileged witness of Christ’s resurrection, completing in this way her participation in all the essential moments of the Paschal Mystery. One of those essential moments obviously is the resurrection of Her Son. The more we learn about our Lord, the more we learn about Mary, and vice versa.
Of course, we have been spending these days preparing for the Feast of the Divine Mercy. Our Lord is the source of Mercy; He is Divine Mercy itself. Mary is the Mother of Mercy. St. Faustina related how the Blessed Mother was a constant source of God’s mercy for her as a mother, guardian, teacher, and intercessor. From Mary she received a special gift of purity. From her, she received the strength and suffering. From her, she received countless lessons on the spiritual life. St. Faustina writes “Mary is my instructress who is ever teaching me how to live for God. The more I imitate the Mother of God, the more deeply I get to know God. Before every Holy Communion, I earnestly ask the Mother of God to help me prepare my soul for the coming of Her Son.” St. Faustina said, “She has taught me to love God interiorly and also how to carry out His will in all things.”
Mary, our Mother, we place everything in your hands. You are joy, because through you God descended to earth and into our hearts. Amen.