“Mary’s Immaculate Heart, Like a Fresh Spring of Water” (8/21/2019)
Fr. Ignatius John Schweitzer, OP
Mary’s Immaculate Heart, among other things, is like a fresh spring of water. It’s pure, clear, life-giving, always pouring out more of itself for others, and always refreshed by its Source in God. Our hearts however are not always like this. The springs of our hearts often become stagnant. We let crud build up. We nurse grudges, entertain groundless fears, or repeat negative thoughts. Rather than letting bad things pass through like polluted water, we hold on to them and the springs of our hearts become stagnant and foul.
Here’s an example of what I mean from what a friend told me. His dishwater broke, so he went to buy a new one. He shopped around. He found the model he liked at Best Buy but it was $50 more than another model he had found at Sears. So he was going to try to talk the Best Buy salesperson down. The salesman started to approach my friend, but at the last moment he went to another customer, who was looking at a very expensive item. My friend had been snubbed by the salesman who was trying to get the bigger sell.
My friend was irate and he clasped onto his anger. My friend let the salesman have it. He chewed him out and insisted that he talk to his manager. The manager, after hearing the whole story, tried to smooth things over by giving in to my friend and selling the dishwasher at a $50 discount to match the price of his second choice. This is exactly what my friend wanted in the first place. But strange enough, he refused it. He stormed off, all because he had been disrespected and could not let go.
His heart had become a stagnant pool of water and had become stale. This is an obvious example of how the resentment we hold on to ends up being self-defeating. Yet this is no less true in more subtle cases. People can nurse grudges and resentment for years and it spoils the heart.
Mary was often faced with situations in which she could have done the same thing. For instance, Jesus stayed behind in the Temple without letting her or Joseph know about it. This causes hurt, and Mary rightly expresses her frustration to Jesus. Yet in the end, Mary does not hold a grudge. She does not let resentment build up in her heart. She might have held on to this to use against Jesus later: “Son, remember how you treated me those many years ago.” No, she did not do this.
Rather, the Gospel says, she treasured all these things in her heart. She let the hurt pass on and turned to reflect on what God was doing. She let go. She surrendered in trust. And so cheerfulness rushed forth. Like a spring of water that keeps flowing and so does not let crud build up, her Immaculate Heart was refreshed by her meditation on God. The fresh water coming in from God continued to push the rest out.
So, when we find our thoughts lingering on things that are unhelpful or our hearts attached to things we would do better to let pass, we can learn from the Immaculate Heart of Mary. By turning our thoughts to God and treasuring in our hearts the things of God, less helpful thoughts and desires pass away.
Yet will-power can only bring us so far. It was the Holy Spirit that preserved Mary’s Immaculate Heart free from stain. Moreover, it was the Holy Spirit, who Jesus spoke about when he promised all believers that out of their hearts would flow rivers of living water. So in celebrating the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we ask the Holy Spirit to pour into the springs of our hearts his refreshing grace, the living water, so that everything else will keep flowing and pass through us.