13 May 2018

May Sermon

As I made a bonfire of old homilies, including some from 2011, 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 Aramaic 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 some philologists translarte as "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 fingernails; 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.


Kathleen1031 said...

Father that is interesting to consider. Have you ever googled the Lord's Prayer in Aramaic? It's wonderful to hear.
This is probably a mundane thought, but this reminds me of another interesting consideration. If Jesus had been born anywhere else, we would know more about what he looked like. I am not sure about this, but it seems as if the Middle East even then, was a place where people had both light and dark skin tones, although darker skin tones probably dominated. Still, we can't know for sure as if he was born somewhere else. Brilliant. I'd love to hear someone talk about this.

E sapelion said...

We can carry the speculation about the likeness between Jesus and Mary a stage further. Many ancient commentators claimed that Jesus had a striking resemblance to Adam. Then - Eve was as Adam said 'bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh', so perhaps Mary was the image of Eve.

Mary Kay said...

Father, this is such a touching, homely essay. I'm happy you gave it another posting.
I have enjoyed a beautiful mother's day as my 2nd granddaughter received her first holy Communion. I will share this post with my two daughters-in-law. It makes me grateful that I got to know you three long years ago in Gardone. You are always in my prayers. (And I continue to wash my hands.)
Kind regards,
Mrs. Mary Jones

tradgardmastare said...

A really moving and beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it with us.

J Tempest said...

E sapelion, very interesting. If Jesus had a striking resemblance to Adam it would be dependent on Mary having a striking resemblance to Eve. I understand that Jesus is the second Adam and Mary the second Eve in typology. If indeed there is a physical resemblance perhaps it has something to do with Adam and Eve being created without sin and with Mary as the Immaculate Conception. Please could you provide details of any of the ancient commentators you mention as I have not read of this claim. Thank you.