In today’s Gospel, during the procession with palms we read, “Untie them and bring them here to me.”
Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “At Mass Christ is hidden in bread. On the street He hides in the neighbor – helpless, alone, afraid.” Christ might say, “Untie them and bring them here to me.”
In 1986, the U.S. Bishops wrote a document entitled, To the Ends of the Earth. Paragraph 48 states, “Like Jesus, we must be able to accompany others in their suffering and be willing to suffer with them.” It is as Jesus would say to us, “Untie them and bring them here to me.”
One of the most popular spots during the 2015 World Meeting of Families was just outside the Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul and that was the “Shrine of Mary, Undoer of Knots.” This is one of Pope Francis’ favorite devotions and is based on a painting which has been venerated in Perlack, Germany since 1700 A.D. Over 133,000 prayer intercessions were “tied” to the shrine’s structure during the WMF and papal visit.
Why would one visit this shrine? What are the kind of steps that would describe this “untying?”
This would be done by a person who is:
- Seeking out help for themselves.
- Aware of their own sinfulness and frailty.
- Seeking to fulfill a “Mitzvah.” This has two aspects:
- A precept/ commandment.
- A good deed done from religious duty. Help, comfort and support others based on our experience with God and the world.
- Working towards acceptance and surrender:
- Realizing that God is in charge
- And they can’t control other people and what happens in the world.
There is a couple I know. They have a son who has struggled with addictions for years. The couple feels that it is their mission to help and support other families, especially parents of children with addictions. I asked them once why they do this.
First of all, what has kept us from drowning, giving up, losing faith, enabling, and getting caught up in the unmanageable, out of control life of addiction – is the kind of help we initially received – and then moved to continue, so that we seek out and help ourselves on an ongoing basis.
Second, in the last few years of this tumultuous life, we have become aware of the disease and who it can affect. The scope of addictions is beginning to “come out of the closet” especially as more and more young people are being trapped by addictions and are even dying. We want to be there to catch people when they start falling and crashing.
Third, doing service is part of our Christian faith life. It is also a huge part of recovery in the addiction world, both for the addict and their families. Service to others heals the person who is serving. It increases knowledge, encourages reliance on our faith and helps us to be guided as our role as servants of God.
Fourth, it is our feeling that God uses us as his vessels. We offer and share our experiences especially in areas that seem to come alive – in the midst of the fear and anguish but also in the midst of faith, surrender and trust in others.
Six, God the almighty never provides a reason – but He does provide a “season.” We may never know “why” this situation has happened in our life, but we can believe it is meant to be and thus find some kind of acceptance. In this regard, God can use us to make all that we, and other families, have been through – a positive and hope filled “season.”
Seven, acceptance and surrender are two very important lessons that we believe need to shared.
Let’s revisit the reasons why a person would visit a shrine dedicated to the “untying the knots” This would be done by a person who:
Is seeking out help for themselves,
Is aware of their own sinfulness and frailty.
Is seeking to fulfill the two aspects of a “Mitzvah” (Fulfilling a precept/ commandment and performing a good deed done from religious duty. This is done in order to help, comfort and support others based on their experience with God and the world).
It is working towards acceptance and surrender, realizing that God is in charge and that they can’t control other people and what happens in the world.
Today in the Scriptures, we read from the “Passion of Christ.” From the word “passion” is derived the word “patient.” Thus here are three questions:
- Where in your life are you a “patient” looking for healing from the “divine physician?”
- Where in your life is Christ being patient with you – affording you grace and tenderness and mercy and forgiveness and understanding that you just don’t understand?
- Where in your life is Christ asking you to be patient with yourself?
In closing, let us examine this thought from Jesuit Father Javier Melloni, S.J.: “The will of God is the divinization of every creature; and it was to bring about this divinization that the One who was in God and who was God, emptied himself in order to participate in our human condition and transform it from within.”
Are we not called to do the same by “untying people and bringing them to Jesus?”
Audio version of the homily is here: