Bottom line: I hope today you will also confess your love for a beautiful woman.
Sometimes people ask me why I don't get more emotional or dramatic in my homilies. I realize it is a defect - perhaps part of the Norwegian heritage from my dad. Believe me, I have tried to correct it. When first ordained, my pastor (Fr Joe Petosa) tried to help me. Being Italian, expression of emotions came easier to him. He said to me, "Phil, try opening with some dramatic statement to get people's attention."
"Like what?" I asked.
"Well," said Fr. Petosa, "you could say, 'I am in love with a beautiful woman.' Then pause and say, 'She is...my mother."
I thought it was worth a try so in my next homily I announced, "I am in love with a beautiful woman." The congregation fell silent. I had their attention. It felt pretty good. Then I blanked out. I couldn't think of what came next so I repeated, "I am love with a beautiful woman... She is... She is... She is...Fr. Petosa's mother!"
This Sunday I do want to say, "I am in love with a beautiful woman." She is described in the first reading: "A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet."
Last month you joined me in honoring this beautiful woman. With the help of young men in the parish I placed a shrine to Our Lady in front of the rectory. At the dedication some asked about what looked like thin horns beneath her feet. Actually it is the crecent of a moon. When Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego, she stood on a small crecent. Behind her streamed rays of sunlight. Our Lady of Guadalupe fulfilled today's prophecy in the book of Revelation: A woman clothed in the sun with moon at her feet.
Over the years I have noticed that other Christians and even people with no faith will comment on the beauty of Mary. She obviously has a physical beauty that no artist could really capture. But something more attracts people: her humility. In the Gospel she called herself a "lowly servant" who desires to proclaim God's greatness. Nothing attracts others more than humility. A humble person focuses on others, makes them recognize that they have something to offer. If you met Mary, you would never forget her. She would show you something within you that you had not seen in yourself.
Mother Teresa illustrates that ability. Many people tell about how meeting her changed their lives. One man (I know him personally) told Mother Teresa he wanted to do something great for God. Mother Teresa looked at him gently - it seemed like a full minute of silence. She said to him, "Why don't you mow that lawn!" At first he was taken aback, but he did it - and later said that it helped him appreciate simple, ordinary things he could do to serve others.
Mother Teresa revealed the beauty of God. Once she did an interview for an American variety program. One of guys on the camera crew saw her and whispered, "Wow, she is so ugly!" As she talked with the host, the studio grew quiet. When they finished, the same guy said, "Wow, she is so beautiful!"
Mother Teresa gives us an idea of the kind of beauty Mary had: A wrinkled face, perhaps, but a glorious smile and steady eyes. Above all, the humility to focus not on herself, but on the other person - and ultimately on God. Mother Teresa got that beauty by imitating Our Lady.
Bishop Sheen explained this in a book titled, The World's First Love. He observed that "Every person carries within his heart a blueprint of the one he loves." What seems to be "love at first sight," he said, "is actually the fulfillment of desire, the realization of a dream."
I confess today that I am in love with a beautiful woman: the Blessed Virgin Mary - not as a projection of the qualities of women I have admired. No, I love her as real person, someone who walked this earth and knows the kind of struggles real people face. And on the Feast of her Assumption we confess that she continues - not as a disembodied spirit, but as someone who has flesh and blood - as we likewise will have at the Resurrection of the dead.
On that day we shall see and experience what we have most longed for. All of us long for beauty. The blessed ones will see God's most beautiful creature - the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, the woman clothed in the sun. How marvellous that Jesus has given her to us as mother of the baptized! I hope today you will also confess your love for a beautiful woman - and more important tell her directly, "Mother Mary, I am your child. I love you."
From Archives (Homily for Assumption):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
My bulletin column
St. Mary of the Valley Album
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish