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The Legion of Mary: Missionary disciples

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The following homily was given by Bishop Paul S. Loverde at the Annual Mass with the Legion of Mary on the Anniversary of the Death of Servant of God Frank Duff, at the Cathedral of Saint Thomas More in Arlington.

The image projected before us by today’s first reading is very instructive for us, especially as we seek Our Blessed Mother’s intercession, using the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Image and Mother of the church. Why is this image so instructive? Because this scriptural image presents the Church in her earliest stage. What is the church doing? We see the Apostles, the first priests and bishops of the church, along with some disciples and with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, gathered in the Upper Room praying. Praying! For what were they praying? In obedience to Jesus’ instruction just before He ascended into heaven, they were awaiting in prayer the coming of the Holy Spirit, so that, transformed by Him, they could witness to Jesus to the ends of the earth: proclaiming the Good News, spreading the Joy of the Gospel, and inviting everyone to draw near to the Lord Jesus, Whose love is so great, beyond our imagining. In His love, He won for all of us salvation through His Dying and Rising. Contemplate often this image: the Church in prayer, awaiting the Holy Spirit, her members transformed into courageous, strong, and involved witnesses. Is this not also an image of each member of the Legion of Mary?


There is yet a second image being projected before us — this one from the Gospel account: the familiar scene of the Wedding at Cana. We all recall the details of this event. The wine ran out and, in her desire to prevent the newly-married couple from being greatly embarrassed, the Mother of Jesus asked Her Son for help. Her request was a simple statement: “They have no wine.” We recall that initially Jesus seemed unresponsive to His Mother’s request. But, she had already told the servers, “Do whatever He tells you.”


We remember that Jesus eventually told the servers to fill the water jugs with water. And then, His first miracle occurred: the water became wine, in fact, it was the best wine.


Of course, many levels of meaning and many lessons for instruction can be drawn from this event, this second image which we are also contemplating. I share one.


The water made wine by Jesus, this new wine symbolizes the Good News of the Gospel, the Joy of the Gospel, since it proclaims the presence of the Savior, and the salvation He has won for us all by His Dying and Rising.


The need which the Mother of Jesus uttered at Cana still continues. And Mary, the Mother of Jesus, still says to Her Son, at Whose side in heaven she is seated as Queen, she still presents the desperate need of God’s people: “They have no wine…” Yes, Our Blessed Mother is saying that so many people in our world have either abandoned the Only One who can satisfy their aching hearts or that so many people have not yet heard of the Savior; they have not been told the Good News of the Gospel; they have not felt the Joy of the Gospel. They have not been invited to come to Jesus to taste His love for them.


The Mother of Jesus is now Our Mother. Given to us at the foot of the Cross, she never ceases to plead with Her Divine Son: “They have no wine. ... They are thirsty for the love only You can give them, the love that alone will satisfy their yearning hearts.”


How does Jesus respond? By pointing to the members of His Church, His Mystical Body, and to a specific group, saying: “I am sending the Legionaries of Mary. They are My hands and feet; They are My voice; Their hearts, transformed by My Heart, are empowered to go forth to proclaim the Good News, the Joy of the Gospel. Like the servers at Cana, they will bring this good wine to everyone with whom they will interact.”


Yes, dear members of the Legion of Mary, contemplate these two images often. See how the Mother of Jesus is telling you to “Do whatever He tells you.” And, you, like the servers, hear Him tell you to bring His “new wine,” the Good News of His Gospel; His presence in the Sacraments, which bring life that endures; His saving love which satisfies the human heart because it comes from His Heart: bring “this new wine” to everyone to whom the Lord sends you: to our brothers and sisters seeking to be drawn closer to their Lord; to our brothers and sisters who no longer practice the Faith; to those who have not yet heard of Jesus — to everyone!


But, before you do and as you do and after you do, gather in prayer, seeking the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.


When you are united with Jesus Christ in prayer and when you bring the “new wine” of the Gospel to others, then and then only are you disciples of the Lord Jesus, sons and daughters of His Mother Mary, authentic followers of Frank Duff, your founder, for whose cause we pray; missionary-disciples sent to the peripheries with the saving love of Jesus Christ! Then — and then only — are you His Church!



© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016