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Category:Our Lady of Mount Carmel

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Homily by Reverend Lee Acervo

Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16, 2008
Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time, Year II
Is 10:5-7, 13b-16: Mt 11:25-27

In the first reading, Isaiah sees in Assyria the instrument of God's punishment. It will be Assyria that attacks Judah which will fall because of the Lord's anger toward them and their sinfulness. God, in the Old Testament, is sometimes seen as an angry or vengeful God, but we have to read the Old Testament in light of the rest of the Bible. Yes, God is a just God Who gives to His people what their deeds deserve, but His justice is always tempered by His mercy and His love for us.

In the Psalm today, we say that the Lord will not abandon His people. So, while God is just, He is always faithful to us. This is a very difficult concept for many people to grasp. As Jesus says in the Gospel today, these are the mysteries of the Kingdom which have been hidden from the wise and the learned (those arrogant because of their worldly knowledge) but revealed to the childlike through knowledge of Jesus Christ. Now, when Jesus talks about the wise and the learned, He means in the worldly sense--the wise and the learned are those who rely on their worldly knowledge and not on what Christ has revealed to us. In relying on their own knowledge, they become proud and arrogant and they refuse His promise of love and mercy.

This promise is also expressed in the promises associated with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. During the thirteenth century, the Carmelite Order suffered great persecution, so St. Simon Stock prayed to Mary asking for a sign of her protection. On July 16, 1251 A.D., she revealed the Scapular as the special mark of her motherly love. Pope John XXII affirmed that those who wear the Scapular would be freed from much time in Purgatory. Wearing the Brown Scapular is not an automatic guarantee of salvation. It is not a magical charm, nor is it an excuse to live in a way contrary to the teachings of the Church. It is a sacramental which has been approved by the Church for many years and is a sign of one's decision to follow Jesus. It is a sign of devotion to Mary who is the perfect model of all who follow Christ. One must always remember that while sacramentals such as the Scapular prepare us to receive grace if we are in the right disposition, only Sacraments can actually confer sacramental grace.

It is also a reminder to us that we must honor Mary who perfectly trusted in the promises of God. We pray that by her intercession, our understanding may be enlightened, our will strengthened, and our zeal heightened so that we may be an example to others. May our Lady guide us and protect us always. Amen.

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