Thursday, November 21, 2013
From mother to Mother: Daily Mass Homily--Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
Filled with a noble spirit that stirred her womanly heart with manly courage, she exhorted each of them…” I have to admit I was a little nervous when I read this line in our first reading—“womanly heart with manly courage”—because I am the only guy with you Sisters!
In reading the Old Testament we must do so in light of the New—men and women have equal dignity in the eyes of God. Such concepts weren’t as developed in the Israelite and Greek customs. Yet the basic point of this verse remains true.
Typically women are recognized for their compassion and care giving. Throughout history men have been noted for bravery, strength and protection. In fact, the Latin word for man—vir—comes from the same root as courage—virtus. Yet the point isn’t to discriminate, but to show that while some virtues come more naturally to a man or to a woman (or even to individual people), we must strive to supplement our strengths with virtues that aren’t so easy.
In being courageous in the face of her seven sons’ deaths, this woman showed a balance between compassion and strength. In so doing, she is a sign of our Blessed Mother.
Mary held the virtues we strive for in perfect balance. Like the mother in Maccabees, Mary watched her child die a horrific death. Yet rather than seeking a way out (due to a natural maternal instinct) she lived out the words of the unnamed mother, “Do not be afraid of this executioner, but be worthy of your brothers and accept death, so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with them.”
We ask our Mother to pray for the grace to grow in virtue, to be strong and compassionate.