Reading Luke's Gospel and praying the Joyful Mysteries this evening held a couple of surprises. The first was one of those realizations that happens when you've known a couple of facts, but you've never put them together before. I was meditating on the time when Jesus (age 12) stayed behind in the Temple after celebrating Passover. Mary received Jesus back after a three day absence, as she did twenty some years later when He rose on the third day - quite a foreshadowing. What I had not registered before was how the Finding in the Temple and Jesus' death and Resurrection were connected not just by the three day absence, but the Feast of Passover!
The difference between the two events for the Blessed Mother of course, was that she didn't receive Jesus back in the same way after His three days in the tomb. He appeared to her, visited her; but he didn't return to Nazareth with her the way He did as a boy. Resurrected and glorified, His body no longer belonged to this world, still subject to decay. He belonged beside the Father, ascended.
And yet, Jesus did still come to His Mother, again and again, really and substantially in the Eucharist! Mary lived with the Apostle John from the time of the Crucifixion. Imagine what John must have felt - the unworthiness and awe - as he returned Jesus to Mary in Holy Communion! And imagine Mary's incredible love for John, this man who brought her Son physically, sacramentally, back to her when he prayed the Eucharistic prayer!
I think about my parish priests and how they bring Christ to me in exactly the same way. I don't love and appreciate them nearly enough. I remember reading a fantastic line from Matt Swaim a couple of years back, about how we can't look at our priests as "mere sacramental vending machines," and thinking how absolutely right he was; but I look into my heart today and realize that I'm guilty of it! It wasn't intentional; I live and just begin to take certain things for granted.
Every Mass is the celebration of Jesus' Passover. And united with Mary in the Communion of Saints, we receive her Jesus again and again. May the Holy Spirit bring the love that filled her heart to ours ... and may we love and appreciate the priests ordained to bring Jesus to us.