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Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

A justice and peace meditation for June 20, 1998

2 Chronicles 24:17-25, Luke 2:41-51

This feast was established by Pope Pius XII in 1944 to pray for "peace among nations, freedom for the Church, the conversion of sinners, the love of purity, and the practice of virtue."

The Gospel for today is one of the "seven sorrows" related to Mary and Jesus: the three day separation before finding him in the Temple. The family had gone to Jerusalem for the Passover, and was on the way home. Mary and Joseph assumed that Jesus was somewhere in the caravan, but he had stayed behind, in the Temple, listening to and speaking with the religious authorities. His parents frantically search for him -- and finding him, Jesus asks them why they were worried, do they not know that he must be in his Father's house?

This was all very confusing, but Mary kept all these things in her heart.

Jesus, even at a young age, was obviously a risk-taker. To allow the caravan with his parents to go back to Galilee without him, to be alone in a great city, to boldly speak with the religious authorities of his day -- all of this involved risk and courage.

The first reading today takes us back in time to the Kingdom of Judah, which has left the God of Abraham and turned to false gods and idols, forgetting the Law of God. Prophets come to preach conversion, but people don't really want to listen. They're having way too much fun -- all that Moses God stuff is a bore, especially those structures that protect the poor from oppression. What's the point in being powerful if you can't ignore the law as it suits your fancy.

So they kill the prophets, an old and tragic refrain. And thus when enemies come upon the land, the kingdom is weak -- there is no solidarity, no community -- whatever it is that you plant, that is what you are gonna harvest. If you sow injustice, that is what you will reap. Another one of those old lesson that somehow we keep forgetting, so we keep making that same mistake, over and over and over again. Let's reinvent the flat tire! What an original idea.

Today let us pray for many people to accept the risk of walking the journey of justice and peace to dwell in our Father's house. Let us examine our lives and consider how our personal sin helps support structures of sin that oppress the poor and violate peace. Like Mary, let us ponder these things deep in our hearts, opening our eyes, ears, hearts, and minds to the world about us, that we may be able to see the injustice, hear the oppression, feel the pain, and understand the structures of sin that cause the cries of the widows and orphans to rise to the heavens.

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