Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Holy Name of Mary is the Heart of Change

Today's Mass readings (1 Cor 9:16-19, 22b-27; Ps 84:3, 4, 5-6, 12; Lk 6:39-42) speak of two themes. The Gospel speaks about the importance of removing sin from our own lives before we address it in those around us. At the very least, if we do not completely eradicate sin in ourselves first, chronologically, we should put that process first in importance and priority. The epistle speaks about the importance of diligence in the Christian life - and the seriousness of our goal. Sin is bad. In the life of a Christian, it is very bad. Sin hardens our hearts against God, weakens our wills in the face of further sin, dims our mind's ability to know truth from falsehood. It damages our ability to convey God's love to the world. To show Christ to our neighbor and to the world, we must get rid of sin in our own life as thoroughly as we can. It's that simple. If we do a lousy job showing Jesus to our neighbors, if none or few of our coworkers and friends have asked us about Him (who we say is the center of our life), you can bet that it's because of all the sin in our lives. If we can't see the sin in our life, we probably need new glasses.

The Roman Calendar lists as an optional memorial for today the Holy Name of Mary. Mary, conceived without sin and sinless her whole life, brought into the world Him who changed everything - who, simply by existing, challenges every the encrustations of sin. Because we have crusty buildups of sin inside of our heart, Jesus challenges us. Everyone that comes into contact with Him will, when push comes to shove, either despise Him or fall at His feet. No person, place, or thing that comes into contact with Jesus can remain indifferent - the heart hardens or breaks, but it does not sit untouched.

Mary was capable of bringing Him into the world because she was so open to God's will, because her heart is so soft to Him, so supple, so pliable, so moldable, so flexible, so free for service to Him. If we want to be softened by our contact with Jesus, rather than hardened into our sins, we should call on her and ask her to show us the way.

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