Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help (10 January 2015)
Welcome to the first post of 2015! Happy New Year!
Imagine a child with a toy or something very precious. Imagine how adamant children can be about keeping things that they consider to be very precious. It would be difficult to separate him or her from this item even for sleep or meals. Sometimes we may just have to wait till they are hungry or sleepy enough to let go so they can eat or sleep. We we can sometimes be like that, only letting go of things when something more ‘important’ comes along.
The theme of the readings this weekend of the Lord’s baptism seems to be letting go. As we move into ordinary time from Christmas, we see the Lord grow into adulthood and the image of the child Jesus changes into an adult one. One can only imagine how would our Blessed Mother might have felt. She must have known a little of what the Lord’s mission would entail and how she would eventually have to see him leave home. Imagine the time when Jesus had to leave home. I’d imagine a certain amount of turmoil in the heart of Mary as she contemplated the soon to be empty home, of how their lives would once again change. Jesus had been home for 30 years, and grew in obedience and wisdom under the guidance of his earthly parents. Now the family to be separated. What is one to do? St Ignatius, founder the Society of Jesus, wrote of our Principle and Foundation in his book The Spiritual Exercises. He uses these words to tell us about why we’re here and how we should live as a result: “The human person is created to praise, reverence, and serve God Our Lord. All other things are created for human beings in order to help them pursue this purpose for which they were created. Therefore, one should use or hold on to created things if they help and free oneself from them if they are obstacles to our purpose.” Going back to our Blessed Mother, we saw her strength and poise in face of turmoil in the previous weeks. We saw her ability to stop, ponder and reflect. She knew her purpose and was able to act according to that knowledge. Just as she was able to ponder and reflect, I’m sure she was able to realise that she could not hold on to Jesus when his time drew near. It must have been a difficult realisation but she knew she had to because that was part of her role. To bring the Lord into the world so that it might be saved. As we reflect on Mary, we also look at the important figure of John the Baptist this weekend. He reminds us that ‘I must decrease while he must increase.’ John the Baptist was sure of his purpose as well. He knew that he was a herald, not the messiah. He was to welcome and prepare the way for the one who saves, and step out of the way when that happens. It’s very inspiring to see how clearly some can know and perform their roles so clearly. It must not have been easy to tell all his followers that he wasn’t the messiah when many would have been more than willing to make him so. Instead, he humbly stepped aside for the chosen one who is to follow. Letting go comes mainly with the knowledge of what we’re made for and who made us. Like John the Baptist, we’re called to let go of the fame and pride that gets in the way of helping others to the saving power of God. We’re also called to let go of things that prevent us from walking closer with him. It could be things that eat up our time, that distract us from prayer, that prevent us from loving others better. The new year is a great time to make resolutions so perhaps this last question is apt: what thing are we called to let go of this year?