Sunday Mass Text - Latin
Text - English
Mass - Queen of Apostles
The Ascension of our Lord is one
of those few feasts that are celebrated with an octave. In a sense, it
takes ten days to observe this octave, because we know from the Acts of
the Apostles that from Ascension Thursday until Pentecost Sunday the
apostles remained in prayer in the upper room. Those days might well
have been ten very terrifying days. During them, they had plenty of
time for reflection: they had spent right about three years with our
Lord, traveling throughout the countryside and the cities of Israel and
Judea. Our Lord always seemed to be on top of the situation, no matter
whom they had to confront—He always knew the right thing to say to make
people see the truth. On Palm Sunday the people seemed to be at the
point of making Him their King.
But then there was a terrible
change—the crowd could not have been more fickle—that Friday, a few days
later, they were screaming for His crucifixion. Most of the apostles
had already fled in terror. But even the terror of the crucifixion was
short lived; within forty-eight hours or so, they had learned of His
resurrection, and most of the apostles had seen Him alive.
The forty days following the
resurrection must have seemed glorious. Jesus was back with them once
again. He would know handle each and every encounter no one would
bother them not the Sanhedrin, not the crowds of the Jews, not even
the Romans. Very likely, they were able to put any thought of the
crucifixion aside, and speculate about the “good times to come.”
But, then, on the fortieth day,
our Lord was gone again. This time permanently. Even before the
crucifixion, He had told them that He was returning to the Father. He
spoke of sending them a “new Advocate,” but unless He told them more
than what we know from the Scriptures, they could not have understood
very well what this “Advocate” was all about.
Perhaps worst of all, our Lord had promised them trouble! “They will
expel you from the synagogues.... anyone who kills you will think he is
offering worship to God.” “No servant is greater than his Master. If
the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before you.”
The apostles were practical man;
realists. They lived in a world where people suffered and died from
simple diseases they could not cure; they lived in a society that had
few resources to recover from natural disasters. They knew that greed
and jealousy and lust sometimes drove men to do unspeakable things.
But, why would anybody want to bother them for keeping the Commandments,
or for imitating the peaceful ways of Jesus of Nazareth? It was not as
though our Lord had directed them to arm themselves with swords and go
out to round up sinners—they posed no threat to anyone.
But our Lord knew human nature.
He knew that the true sinner (the one who knows what is wrong, and
repeatedly does it anyway) is always looking for approval of his sins.
The true sinner is trying to convince himself that he is really doing
nothing wrong and what better way to convince yourself of something
than to have everyone agree with you, and tell you what you want to
John the Baptist, for example,
was no real threat to King Herod. But he was the only one with courage
enough to remind Herod publicly that he was sinning by taking his
brother's wife. John's “crime,” in Herod's mind, was that he destroyed
a pleasant fiction; that he forced Herod to examine his conscience both
publicly and privately, and that Herod had to admit to himself that John
was right, and that he was, indeed, a sinner. Worldly people hate holy
men because their mere presence is a rebuke, a reminder that they are
living a lie, and that some day they will be called to account for their
Then too, there is the element
of jealousy. It is hard to admit that someone else has more strength of
character, greater discipline, a stronger will with which to resist
temptation. It is harder still to admit that someone else will have a
reward that I have foolishly cast away. And hardest of all to admit
these things when the good person comes from a lower status in life than
the bad one. That's why the devil wants you to lose your soul —he has
nothing to gain by it—but he can’t bear to admit that lower creatures
such as we, might have what he has thrown away.
The apostles knew that they
would be subject to persecution. So those ten days might have been
terrible without Jesus, and before this new “Advocate” came to them.
But if we read just a little more of the Acts of the Apostles than we
did on Ascension Thursday, we that they had a source of consolation and
And when they had entered the city, they came to the upper room
where were staying.... All these with one mind continued
steadfastly in prayer with the women and Mary, the Mother of
Jesus, and with His brethren.
“Mary, the Mother of Jesus” has
been the Mother of us all, ever since we were entrusted to her care in
the person of Saint John the Apostle.
She is our “stability and consolation.” She has been, over the
centuries, and will be, until the end of time. Yesterday we celebrated
her feast as “Queen of the Apostles,” their consolation in the upper
room. Wednesday, May 24th, was her feast as “Help of Christians,” and
we are reminded how she protected Constantinople from the Moslems in
AD 911, how she brought solace to all of Europe in the 16th century by
defeating the Moslems at Lepanto, and by liberating Pope Pius VII from
the grasp of Napoleon in the 19th. Also in May, she is celebrated as
“Queen,” “Mediatrix of all Graces,” and “Queen of all Saints.”
Sometime our Lady is able to
deliver us from illness, or to avert natural disaster. Sometime she
delivers us from the crimes of those who act through greed and lust.
And, sometimes she delivers us from the jealousy of sinners. But
sometimes, God tells her that her intervention would not be in our best
interest; that we must sometimes share her Son's sufferings. But even
then, she is with us in our time of tribulation, for Mary is always our
Queen, our, consolation, and our solace; for Mary is always our Mother.