Liturgical Colour : Green or White (our Lady of Lourdes)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great feast day of Mary, the mother of our Lord and God Jesus Christ, who had appeared to her people, that is all of us, through the intermediary of St. Bernadette Soubirous just over a hundred and fifty years ago, in the quiet village and area of Lourdes in southern France. Today is the feast of our Lady of Lourdes, also known as the day of universal prayer for the sick and those afflicted with diseases both of body and soul.
We heard in the Gospel today of the creation of mankind, good and wonderful and perfect, filled with all the goodness of God, and made in the image of God. All of us were destined for a life filled with bliss and great happiness. Sickness and death were never meant for us, for these are the things of darkness, and we are the children of the Light, that is God.
Yet, it was because of our disobedience that we have sinned before the Lord and before all men, and therefore, in our disobedience and lack of faith, we brought the sickness unto ourselves, and sickness as well as corruption become a part of us. And that is what our Lord wants us to overcome and be freed from. He came into the world and through His teachings and works, He made whole a people that had been claimed by the darkness.
In the psalms, we heard about the praise upon Judith, the brave and courageous daughter of Israel and a holy woman, who despite of the great threat that faced her people, in the great force of the Babylonians under the leadership of the mighty general Holofernes, she went forth by herself to the camp of the enemy and in full faith of the Lord’s providence, she gained a great victory, triumph and salvation for her people by slaying the general when he was drunk with wine in his sleep.
Thus a great disaster was averted for the people of God, a people that had been subjected to the might and power of the conquering nation, expecting nothing else other than annihilation and slavery. It was because of the faith of one woman, who put her trust in the Lord, that salvation came for the people of God, and God heard the sincere prayers of the woman, Judith, which she made before she ventured into the enemy’s camp.
In the Gospel today, we hear something similar, and of an even greater significance for us all, as we heard about the Wedding at Cana, a story that we are surely all familiar with. In that wedding, the wedding couple who are the hosts of the wedding went into great trouble for their wine supply had run out. This is a great taboo in the Jewish society, and had the guests and the steward knew about it, the couple would be shamed and reviled for the rest of their lives.
That is when we know that Mary knew about the problem which the couple had, and she performed something that would set a great precedent. She requested for her Son to help the couple and get them out of trouble. Indeed, Jesus seemingly refused this when He remarked to her that it was not His time just yet. But, what Mary told the servants would be indeed amazing, as she said that whatever He would tell them, they have to listen to Him.
And indeed, Jesus performed His very first miracle right there and then. He turned the water into wine, and the reputation of the wedding couple was saved. But what is the true significance of this, brothers and sisters? It is that our beloved mother and the mother of our Lord Jesus, that is Mary, never forgets us when we are in trouble. Just as she was very observant of the problem faced by the couple, she too from heaven can see our troubles and the obstacles that lay in our path.
Mary is the greatest of all saints, not just because of her piety and her faithful life, which she spent in total and complete dedication to the will of God, mirroring what Judith had done even to a much greater scale, but she is also the mother of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ our Saviour and King. And she sits the closest to her Son’s throne in heaven, at His right hand, giving Him advice, prayers and petitions from all of us.
And she is also our mother, for remember that before His death on the cross, Jesus entrusted His own mother to His disciple John, just as He entrusted John to her. In this manner, He therefore entrusted all of us to the care of Mary, His mother. And that is how significant this feast day is for us. As we know with the other famous Marian apparitions, Mary appeared to many people, calling for them to repent and change from their sinful ways. She asked the people to devote themselves more and more to her Son, our Lord.
And in Lourdes, it was no different, for Mary also mentioned to St. Bernadette Soubirous, the need for the world to be converted for the sake of Christ, that everyone may receive the grace of salvation and liberation from their sins. And through her intercession for our sake, many had received miraculous healing at the Lourdes site ever since the apparition.
The water of the spring at Lourdes appeared since the time when Mary appeared to St. Bernadette, and those who bathed and immersed themselves in the water had been healed from their afflictions. This is why today we also pray for the sake of all those who are sick, as a reminder of this great grace of God. But we have to remember that, it is not that the water has any magical properties, or that Mary is the one who performed the miracle for us.
Rather, just like at the wedding at Cana, she is our intercessor, bringing our prayers directly to her Son, Jesus our Lord. Through her prayers, we are all made whole again by the grace of her Son, Jesus, who performed the healing and the miracle for us. What is the key? None other than our faith and our effort in living up to that faith. It is our faith in the power of our Lord, and the effort we have done to seek Him, which healed us from our afflictions, both of the body, and also of the soul, that is sin.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, on this great feast day of our Lady of Lourdes, let us all renew our commitment to our loving God, and let us all be ever more devoted to His mother, Mary, who is also our mother, and who like a mother is always concerned about us and daily pray for our sake, bringing our petitions and plight before her Son in heaven. Mary, our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us sinners that your Son may bring us to a new life everlasting freed from the afflictions of our body and soul. Amen.