The Pastoral letter issued by Msg Charles J. Scicluna, Mgr. Mario Grech and Mgr Joseph Galea-Curmi, for this Lent 2019, and read in all masses during the first week of Lent lovingly puts me at Mary’s secure hands.
I must heartily congratulate our dear Pastors for the sensitive way they wrote this pastoral letter. This letter shows their fatherly heart. As they rightly pinpointed at its beginning, we are yes “a nation that loves the home”. In fact, in each and ever home one finds “stories of delightful families, stories of great generosity; incredible stories of parents sacrificing everything for their children, particularly when a child has special needs; stories of heroism in the face of a grave illness”.
On the other hand, we need to acknowledge, as the Bishops say, that “there are homes where stories have been written that you wish never occurred: (elderly) parents abandoned by their children; open wounds inflicted by domestic violence or abuse; or heartbreak caused by a failed marriage. There are persons who even had to move because gossiping by neighbours became unbearable. Then there are homes stricken by abject poverty. There are homes where death has trod and plucked the life that had only just started to bloom like a rose”.
What are we to do in front of the modern day plagues that harm our families? And what do we say to families that, common gossip, made them believe that they are not worthy to receive Jesus because they are bad people? The Bishops tell us to follow Jesus’ example. What did Jesus do when he met an injured family like that of Zaccheus? Did he abandon him? Did he join the gossip of his time and kept condemning him? Certainly not! Indeed, “the story of Zaccheus not only abundantly illustrates that Jesus also enters the home of the public sinner shunned by everyone, but he even invites himself in! Jesus does not enter because everything is in order, but rather order ensues once Jesus enters our dwelling!”
To facilitate Jesus’ entry into our homes, (including convents of course!), we need to let Mary in. As the Bishops lovingly exhort us, “emulate the bride and bridegroom at Cana and do not be frightened to take Mary home. For wherever Mary goes, she takes Jesus with her. She helps us taste the goodness of the love that Christ has for everyone, but most especially for persons who are stunned to see their house ‘collapse’ all around them”. In the middle of life’s problems, like “when there is discord among siblings, when a parent loses employment, when a member of the family is stricken with drug addiction, when fidelity in marriage is dented, when the future of the family is on shaky ground, when religious practice dwindles down and thus it contributes to the collapse of the foundations of faith, and other challenges”, Mary reminds us to do the one thing necessary: Do whatever he tells you (Jn 2:5).
When we follow her advice we start, slowly slowly, finding out that society, trust in institutions, respect for human life from conception, protection of the environment, transparency and accountability, start creeping in. Let us not forget that Mary’s advice makes alot of sense because she had to face enermous challenges in her life with Joseph, her husband, such as, lack of understanding, crisis of faith, the many tales she heard about Elizabeth and the painful gossip she heard about her Son when they dubbed him as “‘a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners’ (Mt 11:19), or when she overheard her neighbours declare that Jesus ‘has gone out of his mind’ (Mk 3:21).”
The greatest life lesson I learnt from this pastoral letter is to pray the Rosary daily. As the Bishops say: “When we remember that the Rosary is the prayer most precious to Mary, a prayer that leads us to meditate on Jesus, we invite all our families to pray this beautiful prayer often”. Through the daily prayer of the Rosary, “life … overcomes death, the grace … frees from sin, the hope … lifts sadness, forgiveness … binds the wounds of the broken-hearted, the joy … banishes sorrow, the peace … ends all hostilities.” By the Rosary, Jesus shines in and amongst us as we are hand in hand with Mary!