On Friday, April 15, 2016 I, Father Kevin Joyce, was sitting in
the perpetual adoration chapel at the parish where I was assigned at the time.
I was praying decades of the rosary slowly with my eyes closed. Sometime
between 7:30-8:30 am--with my eyes closed--I had an image very clearly defined
of two, bare arms and hands lifting up a golden chalice with the continents of
the world superimposed on the cup of the chalice. Each continent was green in
color and outlined with blue trim. Although the image appeared and disappeared
quickly, it was quite vivid in detail. I wrote it down in my prayer journal. As
I began to pray about the image, the well-known scripture passage, John 3:16,
came to me: "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son".
The background colors (blue, symbolizing The Blessed Virgin Mary; black,
symbolizing the sin of the world, as well as the kingdom of darkness; and red,
symbolizing The pierced Heart of Jesus) were received in prayer while on a
retreat in June of 2016.
One can easily overlook the word, "so", in John 3:16. The word means, "to
a great extent". God has a superabundance of Love for humanity--might one call
it "Love stupendous". Because God Loves humanity to such a great extent, He
offered us His only Son for our salvation. The God who created us was
determined to save us. In John 3:14 Jesus says, "So must the Son of Man be lifted up". Again, we can easily
overlook the word, "must". It means,
"to be compelled; to be determined; to have fixed resolve". In Jesus we see the
passion burning in the Heart of our Holy God (the interior intensity of God's
Love), and the impelling force of faithful love! Jesus was compelled,
determined and fixed with resolve to please the Father in loving obedience. He
offered his life on the 'altar of the cross' by "that human death, in which the
world, that is to say each one of us, has been loved "to the end'"through the depth of his love (John Paul II,
"Apostolic Letter on the Mystery and Worship of the Holy Eucharist", Feb. 24,
1980, pp. 117-118). God loves humanity and the world dearly--which is to say
that God loves sinners (see Luke 15:2): "I found delight in the sons of men"
(Pros. 8:31). Ours is a world that is always on God's Heart--one might even
say, a world always in "the Chalice of his Heart".
Jesus promises, "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will
draw everyone to myself" (John 12:32). Every Roman Catholic Eucharist makes
present this being lifted up, the one time sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Our
faith teaches us that "the Sacrifice of Christ and the Sacrifice of the
Eucharist are one single sacrifice" (The council of Trent, cited in CCC 1367).
The Eucharist is the gift of the loving
Heart of Jesus. It is the Sacrament
of love. It "is the heart and
the summit of the Church's life"
(CCC 1407); "Here is the Church's treasure, the heart of the world, the pledge of the fulfillment for which
each man and woman, even unconsciously, yearns" (John Paul II, "Ecclesia de
Eucharistia", pp. 73-74); "It is the Sacrament of sacraments" (CCC 1330); and,
it is the participation of "the whole community in the Lord's own sacrifice"
(CCC 1322) [this charism is communal, contemplative, intercessory prayer].
The mystery of salvation celebrated in every Eucharist is continued in the heart of an intercessor:
"The spiritual writers sometimes compare the heart to an altar. Prayer internalizes and assimilates the
liturgy during and after its celebration"(CCC 2655). God never abandons His
world; rather, He raises up saints who desire what Jesus desires: To give back
to the Father the world that He so loves! An intercessor's prayer and
offering--always united to the unique and perfect offering of the Lamb of
God--prolongs, continues, the 'one time, once for all' offering of Jesus on the
altar of the cross.
Mary also "gave herself whole heartedly to [God's] loving
plan for renewing all things in Christ" (Collection of Masses of the Blessed
Virgin Mary. (missal); p. 246). Her whole life supported and centered
around Jesus, the Lamb, whose death she knew would redeem the world. Mary is
the Handmaid of the Redemption. Simeon's prophecy (Luke 2:34-35) links the
destiny of Jesus and Mary. God joined the suffering of Mary to that of Jesus.
She fully supported and participated in his offering as he was dying on the
Cross.Mary's offering adds nothing to
the offering of Jesus on the cross; for, nothing is lacking in the perfect and
unique offering of the Lamb. Rather, Mary's offering is united to that of Jesus on the cross. Mary is also 'refuge of
sinners'. Her heart is fully with God, and always opened to sinners.