Monday, April 4, 2016

"Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures" 

Jesus' Resurrection fulfills God's ultimate promise. Yet the apostles and disciples needed multiple tutorials from the Risen Lord before He could open their minds to the fact that "everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled" (Lk 24:44).

The Hebrew Scriptures had prepared the Chosen People for a suffering servant who would redeem the people. According to Jesus himself, the Scriptures predicted that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day. He predicted his own passion, death and resurrection at least three separate occasions in the Gospels. Yet, Jesus needed to continually greet his inner circle with "Do not be afraid" or "Peace be with you" throughout the 40 days that he appeared to them before the Ascension.

How about Holy Mary, Mother of God? Tradition has it that Jesus first appeared to his Blessed Mother on Easter Sunday.  Despite the sword which pierced her heart on Good Friday, the Church holds up Our Lady's faith as a flickering light which was not extinguished even amid the utter darkness of Holy Saturday.

Is it possible that the Blessed Mother and her Divine Son discussed this Paschal Mystery as they prayed the psalms together throughout Jesus' teenage years and into his 20s? Perhaps there would be points when their eyes would meet, and Mary's heart would begin to ache.  Maybe Jesus even took some time to help open the Scriptures for his first and most faithful disciple.

Here are a few of the Psalms lifted up by the Church throughout the octave of Easter; imagine Jesus and Mary pondering these in their daily evening prayer:

  • "The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone" (Ps 118). Mary: When the Angel said that your name would be Jesus because you would save your people from their sins, did he mean that such rejection was necessary, my Son? Jesus: Yes, the Son of Man must endure all the violence, all the hatred and all the evil which the world has to offer, in order to build a new structure not rooted in the sad cycle of sin and death.
  • "You will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption" (Ps 16). Mary: The Angel also promised that the Lord God would give you the throne of David and that there would be no end to your kingdom, so does that mean that your death will not be the end, but somehow the beginning?  Jesus: Yes, I must go the way of all flesh, but in so doing my flesh will be transformed; this will begin the great reversal of the rules of corruption.
  • "O Lord, you brought me up from the netherworld; you preserved me from among those going down into the pit" (Ps 30). Mary: Simeon said that you were destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, so is this related to "being brought up from the netherworld"?  Jesus: Yes, the grain of wheat must be buried in order to re-emerge more beautifully and more fruitfully; when I am lifted up, all those who trust in me will be freed from the pit of destruction.
  •  "See, the eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear him, upon those who hope for his kindness, to deliver them from death..." (Ps 33). Mary: This is all about "being in your Father's house," isn't it? Jesus, smiling: Yes, Mother, I am the first and the last, the one who lives; I hold the keys to death and the netherworld.

None of this means that Mary's mind and heart would not have been broken as the passion unfolded.  On the contrary, the prior understanding of where Jesus' hour was going would have only intensified her suffering. However, without comprehending the details of how it was going to be possible, the Blessed Mother's deeper understanding of the Scriptures may have prepared her to greet her Risen Son with one of their favorite verses:

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever" (Ps 118)!