30 April 2011

May Sermon

As I made a bonfire of old homilies, I decided to give this one a last outing on the blog.
In lots of places, in the old days, there was a custom of fixing a card to the Paschal Candle giving some dates and times. This year the 'Charta' would have told you that it was the 1978th year since the Lord's Death and Resurrection; the 2011th since his Birth; and also the 2025th since the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Tot it up: you'll see that, according to tradition, our Blessed Lady was 14 when she became God's Mother. There's a picture I find very moving - of a little girl, not much more than a child herself, leaning over the cradle of her baby Son, and murmuring the first endearments that a mother utters to the little thing that was part of her own body only minutes ago ... bonding, as they call it. And, as Divine Baby grew into Divine Toddler, I think we can actually put our finger on some of the things Mary said to her Son. The official language of that time was Greek, but I think that mothers and babies and people in bedrooms and kitchens used, in Palestine, a different languge: Aramaic. I don't think I have much doubt about one word Mary used to our blessed Lord. Imagine him - sitting in whatever sort of high chair they used to feed toddlers in. I think what Mary said was what most parents say: "Open wide". The little mouth opens, and one deftly manoeuvres the spoonful in before it shuts again. And the Aramaic for "Open wide" is Ephphatha. And so, when years later the Redeemer was healing a mute, S Mark tells us that he slipped from talking Greek into Aramiac and said "Ephphatha".

And I think I know another Aramaic word that Mary said to her Saviour. It was while she was teaching him his prayers and telling him about God the Father. She taught him to call God "Abba"; which could be translated "Daddy". In other words, she taught him to keep the Daddy-word, not for S Joseph, but for God the Father of Heaven. And we know Jesus called him "Abba"; he used that word in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest: " Abba, not my will but thine be done".

And there's another thing about that Mother and that Baby that people often don't spot. Our God and Lord Jesus Christ didn't have an earthly, human father; his Father was the First Person of the Blessed Trinity. Now: you know how it is with an ordinary baby: "Cor - he's got his mother's nose". "Look: she's got her father's ears". But this Baby ... there's only one person he could look like: Mary. If you could have seen them side by side, I'm sure you would have spotted the uncanny similarities; the distance between the eyes, perhaps; the curl of the lips; the shape of the fingermnails; some indefinable likeness in the way each of them walked. Just as identical twins are so very like each other, I suspect that Mother and that Son must have been very strikingly similar. And, as our Lord took his humanity solely and uniquely from Mary's, I wonder if his human mind ran along the same tracks as hers; so that each often felt they knew what the other was thinking before anybody actually said anything ... as happens with some identical twins.
Continues later.


John said...


Patrick said...


Sue Sims said...

This reminds me of Ronald Knox...I couldn't pay you a higher compliment.

Joshua said...

Don't burn, recycle - reduce your carbon footprint and all that.

After all, Bl John Henry made good money as a Catholic by having his Anglican sermons republished.

The Ordinariate needs funds!!!

I should think there would be many to buy Hunwicke's Omnia Opera, even if he thinks them opuscula.

And even your software agrees, seeing as the word verification device urges me to type "bukkh".

John said...

Joshua took the words right out of my, uh, keyboard. Don't burn, publish.

Felix said...

I sometimes wonder whether, given that Mary and Elizabeth were cousins, Our Lord was very similar physically to St John the Baptist.

If so, this might explain the section in the Gospels where someone asks whether Our Lord is St John come back again.

Jonathan said...

Since Jesus was fully human he must have had two sets of chromosomes, including the male Y chromosome. The latter he certainly couldn't have taken from Mary. I like to think that God gave Jesus the Y chromosome of Joseph. A family likeness to Joseph would have prevented malicious gossip, amongst other benefits. I don't think this idea contradicts the facts that Jesus was not conceived through human will or human means.

I know this comment is rather late but if anyone reads it, please do let me know if this idea contradicts any Church teaching.