In our overly sexualised world, the images from today’s first reading might be uncomfortably passed over as too embarrassing to dwell on. That is a bit of a shame. For within the image of a mother feeding her child lies the reality of what it means to be graced. Jerusalem, home to God’s children and symbol of God’s presence, is, in this image, truly a mother who is able to offer an abundance of nourishment.
As the presence of God among his people, it is indeed like a river in flood, overflowing in the grace that nourishes and grows. There is a protective element to this image, a comforting to be had, when in need. From the breasts and lap of this mother—from the God, who is mothering—comes the gift of life for us.
Appropriately, Jesus takes on this same image in his own mission. Not by the milk of the breast, but by the wine of gladness, he provides in an overflowing manner what will bring delight to those who would otherwise have mourned the emptiness that had occurred at the wedding. From no wine to the best of wine, from emptiness to abundance, from loss to gain, from death to life. This was the way of Jesus, in a sign that revealed his glory in God.
We see it repeated in the way of his Mother. To a teenager in France, Mary revealed in a wonderous sign of water the glory of God. ‘Go to the spring,’ said the Immaculate Mary to the innocent Bernadette, ‘drink of it and wash yourself there.’ This was a healing sign that Bernadette received as a gift of grace. It is a sign that continues into today to bring life to those in need, healing to those wounded, and a cleansing for those who seek conversion of life. All of these gifts—life, healing, conversion—are signs of God’s glory among us, and of his grace for us. It is especially a gift of healing for life.
On this feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes, and in this Eucharistic celebration of sacramental healing, God comes mothering to us, his children in need. It is to us that he offers life and sustenance. It is for us that he brings cleansing and forgiveness. May this celebration reveal God’s glory in us, and bring an abundance of his gifts. May you come to know God’s healing grace today.