Our Lady of Lourdes

Today is the feast when we remember how the Immaculately Conceived Mother of Jesus appeared to a poor and humble peasent in a small village in France. The First Reading of Mass, from Genesis, refers to the Creation of man at the hands and breath of God. What we know specifically from this passage, is how the human person has a special place within all of creation. The human person is not equated with the beasts and animals of the land sea and air. The human person is created in the image of God, and further has their life from the breath of God Most High. The Truth is, the human person, from every moment of life, has an infinite and incomparable dignity. Unfortunately, that divine dignity was smeared, and being born in original sin, we would rather ignore our divine dignity, and behave like the beasts of the land, with our hearts sinking deep in the abyss. Out of God’s love, in order to restore Creation, God was Incarnate in flesh, in Y’shua bar Y’shef, or more familiar Jesus, stepson of Joseph, in Nazareth, a small useless town north of Jerusalem. People at the time of Jesus were shocked, expecting nothing good to come from Nazareth. The New Creation, of the New Adam, also has the New Eve. Mary. Everything is taken back to that special moment of original innocence in Our Lady. When the Church refers to Immaculate Conception, that the Mother of Jesus was conceived without original sin; the Church refers to the integrity of the characteristic divinity of Jesus Christ. Moreover, the Son of God, Jesus was Incarnate, to restore us to that moment of Eden, that moment of Eden. It only makes sense, that the Mother of Jesus would wish for that same sort of healing of sin for us. The Gospel of the day (Mark 7:14-23), has Jesus against the Pharisess, debating over ritual purity. Jesus was able to observe their hypocrisy, namely, that as much as the Pharisees engaged in ritual cleansing before eating, they hardly found any opportunity to cleanse their hearts. That is why the food is not what makes one unclean, rather the heart leads to uncleanliness, as the Pharisees proved time and time again. The kind of ritual cleansing that we need, to get back to the moment of Eden, is not going to happen by all sorts of elaborate human rituals, rather it happens by the Grace of God. Mary was Full of Grace, in this way, Immaculately Conceived. The Grace is available, specifically, in the Sacraments. The Sacraments take us back to the moment of Eden. When Our Lady appeared at Lourdes, nearly 150 years ago, she chose a poor and humble person, Bernadette. Later in her life, Bernadette was called “good for nothing.” She had asthma, and a number of other ailments, dying young. She was not very smart, and could barely pass catechism. When she appeared to Bernadette, she just could not fathom that the Mother of Jesus would appear to her, that Bernadette never made such a claim. When she was pressed to ask the Apparition its name, she was told “I am the Immaculate Conception.” This was a phrase, or theological concept that Bernadette did not even begin to understand.
It was perhaps the assumption that nothing good could come from Nazareth, or the Son of a Carpenter, just the same with a poor sick girl from Lourdes who was good for nothing. Somehow, despite all the verified healings in the Grotto of Lourdes, Bernadette was never healed. Yet, in all of her deep suffering and unhappiness throughout her life, she must have been much closer to the moment in Eden and original innocence, that Our Lady would even appear to her.
Could buying and having more really lead us to the satisfaction of the original innocence of Eden? The more we buy stuff, thinking that could give us the purity of life makes us just like the Pharisees, who would engage in all sorts of rituals, and never get there. Bernadette, Jesus, and His Mother just proved that all wrong.


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