Monday, July 16, 2012

Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

(Isaiah 1:10-17; Matthew 10:34-11.1)

Today the Church celebrates Our Lady of Mount Carmel who is said to have appeared to the leader of the Carmelite Order in the middle of the thirteenth century. Having experienced different trials, Mary reputedly told St. Simon Stock that she would protect those wearing a brown scapular. Historians now question the veracity of the vision, but Carmelites rightly profess that wearing the scapular as a sign that following Jesus by way of Mary gains the Blessed Mother’s intercession. What should not be forgotten, as the reading from Isaiah reminds us, is the necessity to also assist one’s neighbors.

Isaiah lives in Jerusalem where one of the main activities is offering sacrifice to God in the Temple. The offerings are prescribed by the Mosaic Law, but carrying them out does not alone make one righteous. Even more important, as the prophet makes clear, is caring for the needs of the poor and vulnerable.

Jesus, of course, fulfills all the requirements of righteousness. In fact, he is the only person to do so completely. He meets the needs of the vulnerable and eventually offers himself as the perfect sacrifice. The Father does not demand that Jesus shed his blood on the cross as many people think. But He does require everyone to abide by His commands. In Jesus’ case, fulfilling God’s will entails submitting himself to human power, which is always risky. Our sins erect Jesus’ cross. God raises him from the dead as a sign of his victory over sin and our hope for eternal glory.