Saturday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time [II]

Saturday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time [II]
James 5:13-20 +  Mark 10:13-16
May 21, 2016

“Let my prayer come like incense before you; the lifting up of my hands, like the evening sacrifice.” [Psalm 141:2]

Saint Augustine notes that “this verse is customarily understood of Christ the Head, for as the day drew on toward evening, the Lord laid down His life on the Cross in order to take it up again.  It was not snatched from Him against His will.

“All the same, we too were prefigured there, for what was it that hung on the Cross?  The body Christ had taken from us.  Moreover, how could it ever happen that God the Father should forsake and abandon His only Son, who most certainly is one God with Him?

“Yet when He fastened our weak nature to the Cross, ‘our old humanity was nailed to the Cross with Him’,[1] as the Apostle teaches, and He cried out in the voice of that old humanity of ours, ‘O God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’[2]

“The evening sacrifice is the Lord’s passion, the Lord’s Cross, the offering of the saving victim in a holocaust acceptable to God.  Through His Resurrection, His evening sacrifice was transformed into a morning oblation.  Because of Him, every prayer purely directed from the heart of a believer rises like incense, as from a holy altar.  Nothing is more delightful than this fragrance of the Lord.  May all who believe send forth the same fragrance.”

When Our Savior in the home of Martha and Mary teaches us the importance of choosing “the better part”[3], Martha and her labors represent our weak human nature, while her sister Mary and her listening to the Word made Flesh represent the grace of our divine Head.  Both participate in the “evening sacrifice” of Calvary.  Both are good.  But Mary chose “the better part”.

Of course this sister Mary is surpassed by Our Mother Mary.  The sister chose “the better part”, but Our Mother bore “the better part”, nursed Him, and cradled His lifeless Body in her arms after He was taken down from the Cross.

It’s the canticle of Our Mother Mary, the Magnificat, that the Church lifts up during the “evening sacrifice” of Vespers.  Whereas Lauds in the morning offers praise of God’s work of creation and our own call to begin another day in the Lord’s vineyard, Vespers is our “evening sacrifice” of praise in which our thanksgiving for the day’s labors is joined to hope for that eternal rest from earthly labors, when by God’s grace we might sit at the Lord’s feet forever.

Saturday itself, the day devoted to Our Blessed Mother, is to the end of the week what the evening is to the end of the day.  This morning we briefly rest, and in the company of Our Blessed Mother we ponder in our hearts all that the Lord has done, preparing in this prayer for the Eighth Day, the Lord’s Day when we share in the Sunday Eucharist as a foretaste of the eternal banquet of Heaven.

[1] Romans 6:6.
[2] Psalm 22:1.
[3] Luke 10:42.