Bishop Soto in Lourdes 2023 - 4th Dispatch

The following is the homily delivered by Bishop Jaime Soto from the closing Mass of the Pilgrimage, celebrated in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Lourdes:

The prayerful presence of Mary in both readings makes apparent the continuity between the gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. The evangelist, Luke, is credited as the author of both. His texts honor Mary’s role in the plan of salvation. From the moment of the annunciation, Mary is the vessel of the Holy Spirit. As the temple of the Holy Spirit, she was the mother of Jesus as well as the mother of the Church.

In the first chapter of Luke, the Archangel Gabriel announced to the young woman of Nazareth, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”

In the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus told his disciples, “You will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you.” While the disciples prayed in the name of Jesus and waited for the promise of Jesus to be fulfilled, the one who had believed God’s word to her would be fulfilled sat among them as a quiet witness to God’s faithfulness. She, who already lived under the shadow of the Most High, waited for the breath of the Spirit to make her joyful Magnificat the canticle of the Church: “The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.” This Spirit-filled joy which rose from Mary’s song would soon echo in the hearts of the Church community on the first Pentecost and beyond.

In today’s gospel reading (Lk. 8.19-21), Mary presented herself as the companion of her Son and the companion of those who follow her Son. The words of Jesus did not dismiss or diminish Mary; they honored her fiat. To whom else can we associate Jesus’ praise for “those who hear the word of God and act on it,” than the one who with humble desire responded to the Archangel Gabriel, “May it be done to me according to your word”?
In today’s gospel account, Mary was part of the crowd of disciples that would soon become the Church. Her wish to see her son served as an inspiration then and now for all disciples seeking the Lord. In the first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts. 1.6-14), Mary provided an inspiration then and now for all the disciples to pray with Jesus and in the name of Jesus.

The prayer of Mary was always centered on the person of her Son, Jesus. She lived for the coming of the Messiah and willingly became the Lord’s handmaid so that through her would come the Savior of Israel. She raised Jesus with heartfelt hopes and prayers. In time, her Son would assume her prayerful aspirations as his own personal mission. A prayerful, mystical harmony was conceived in the moment of the Incarnation that then blossomed through the years in Nazareth, into the public ministry of Jesus culminating in the sorrowful and glorious events in Jerusalem. The death on Calvary was the culmination of both his mission and his prayer. The crucifixion was the acceptable prayer of sacrifice as well as the moment when the Father was glorified by the Son and the Son by the Father.

The prayerful harmony of Mother and Son resonated in the mutual sorrows of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The resurrection of the Son was also the Mother’s joy. Recognizing that he was the firstborn among many brothers and sisters (Rom. 8.29) Mary, the Mother of the Church, embraced her children in the Cenacle room. The harmony of prayer between Mary and her Son Jesus nurtured the same communion of prayer in the Church. As the Virgin Mary’s prayer inspired the first disciples to pray in harmony with Jesus awaiting the Holy Spirit, so the dear Lady of Lourdes with a gentle smile brought the heart of the young Bernadette to find the blissful harmony of prayer with Jesus.

The tender Mother of God has been our companion and advocate during these days in Lourdes as we have come among the crowds hoping to see Jesus. She has been teaching us to pray in harmony with her Son, Jesus, throughout this pilgrim journey at the foot of the Pyrenees.

All prayer, all Christian prayer, is offered in the name of Jesus and only through him. He is the way, the truth, and life of prayer. The Holy Spirit prompts all prayer with Jesus. Only through obedient prayer in Christ Jesus does the fullness of the Spirit come. Mary’s gentle smile has taught us the sign of the cross and the way of the cross of her beloved Son, Jesus.

This is the school of Mary, Our Lady of the Cenacle. As she once gave a prayerful witness to the disciples in the first Cenacle in Jerusalem, she also instructed the young disciple Bernadette. She has kindly held our hands and hearts that we too might become living stones of the one temple of the Holy Spirit eager to prayerfully offer our lives in harmony with Christ Jesus as an acceptable sacrifice to the glory of God, the Father. This is Mother Mary’s joy that through prayer and sacrifice we may come to pray and live in harmony with her Son, Jesus, now and forever.

Read more from Lourdes: First Dispatch - Second Dispatch - Third Dispatch - Fourth Dispatch - Fifth Dispatch