Our Lady of Mount Carmel
July 16, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Reading I (1 Kings 18:42b-45a) Reading II (Galatians 4:4-7)
Gospel (St. John 19:25-27)
In the Gospel reading today, we hear about Our Lord giving us to His mother and giving His mother to each one of us. Now each one of us is called to be that beloved disciple of the Lord; and as the beloved disciple of the Lord, He tells us that we are no longer slaves but we are His friends. And more than that, because of the sacrifice of Our Lord, He has drawn us into His very heart. Through Baptism we have become members of Christ Himself, and therefore we can call God our Father. Well, if we are members of Jesus Christ and we can call God our Father, we can therefore call Mary our mother. If we share a common Father, if we are members of the same Person, we also have to share a common mother.
If we need any clarity about that, again we see in the Gospel that He gives His mother to us. Now one could say, “He gave His mother to Saint John to take care of,” but the reality is, as we pointed out many times before, in Saint John’s Gospel there are two people whose names are never used, and that is Our Lady and Saint John. The reason Saint John’s name is never used is that he is simply called the “beloved disciple”, and that is because he represents each one of us who is a beloved disciple. What we have to ask our own selves then is if we are living as a beloved disciple, that is, if we are truly seeking to do God’s Will, if we are living as children of our heavenly Father, and if we are opening our hearts to receive our mother into our home. Not so much into our physical home, although obviously we want to have some shrine or statues or pictures to honor our Blessed Lady, but it is in the home of the heart where she needs to have a place – a very, very special place.
We want to have Our Lord present within us, and indeed He dwells within us if we are in the state of grace, along with His Father and the Holy Spirit. But the reality is that you cannot separate Jesus and Mary. As we know, every single time that we see Our Lady mentioned in the Gospels, she is wherever Jesus is. She is never appearing on her own someplace, but rather she is where He is. If He dwells in our hearts, so does she. If He is present in Holy Communion, she is going to be there; not that we receive our Blessed Lady when we receive Holy Communion, but rather when we open our hearts to receive Our Lord we should also be opening our hearts to receive our Blessed Lady. So as we receive Holy Communion, one beautiful practice is simply to ask Our Lady to place her Immaculate Heart within you so that as you receive her Son in Holy Communion it is she, in you, who will receive our Blessed Lord so that He will be able to enter into an immaculate place – her heart, that He will be loved with her love, that He will be loved perfectly. That is what we want to be able to give to our Blessed Lord.
The goal for all of us is to be able to live the life of Christ. If we want to live the life of Christ, we need to learn from His most perfect disciple: His mother. So we want to be able to imitate her in all things because she is the one who was most perfectly like her Son. Obviously, none of us is going to be without sin, but what we need to do is strive to remove sin from our lives. Each one of us is able to climb that Mountain of Carmel to be able to look out over the sea and to be able to see our salvation coming forth. As the opening prayer said, that Mountain of Carmel is Jesus Himself. And Saint John of the Cross makes very clear that the way to climb Carmel is the way of nothing; it is pure faith. It is to rely solely on our Blessed Lord and to walk straight up the Mountain. That is exactly what Our Lady did, so she has already cleared the path for all of her children to be able to walk the Mountain, to be able to find union with Christ.
So it is for all of us to realize, and what a wonderful gift it is, that Our Lady wants nothing more for each one of us than union with her Son. What she desires more than anything else is that we will be perfectly united with her Son, that we will love her Son as perfectly as we can. If we are willing to allow her, she herself will arrange for that. She is, after all, a mother, and so she will take care of everything for us, tidying the home of our heart, if you will, and preparing that home to be a worthy dwelling place for her Son. But that requires first that we have to open our hearts, our homes, to be able to receive her, to be able to learn from her, that as the apostles in the Acts of the Apostles gathered around Our Lady and she taught them how to pray and she taught them how to understand the truth and she taught them how to do the Will of God, we need to go to the exact same place, to the one who has done it perfectly, and we need to ask her to teach us how to love her Son, how to do His Will, how to make sure that we are seeking perfect union with Him in prayer. She is the one who will teach us. She has already done it, and it is more than anything what she wants for each one of us because she wants her Son to be loved perfectly. What a joy if we would be able, with Our Lady, even in this world, to love Jesus perfectly, to grow to such a degree of holiness that we will have union with Him so that when we get to heaven we will continue to love Him perfectly. We will have that perfect union, that face-to-face union which will only be in heaven, but it begins now by seeking union with Jesus Christ. And the perfect way to union with Jesus Christ is union with His mother.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.