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Our Lady of Fatima, Namaacha

 

Regional shrine at Maputo

One priest at Chassa Parish told us all that we Catholics are no the first one to honour Mary. God honoured Mary first, when he chose her to be the Mother of His Son, our Saviour at the annunciation. It was a great favour and privilege given to one of us by God. Her yes, reminds us all that to be Christian, we have to participate actively in God’s plan. This means that Catholics are the second phase after God in honouring Mary. From 1810 to 1950 Mary has always occupied a special place in popular devotions. The top most shrines of Lourdes in France and Fatima in Portugal have attracted people worldwide to have first hand experience of the places where she appeared to the poor fellows who communicated to their experiences to the Church officials. Miracles have taken place in these places and many more. When we talk of miracles, is the Holy Scripture silent in them? Do we often read that the first miracle happened at Cana at the intervention of Mary when the guests run short of wine? Although the response seemed harsh from Jesus, Mary took a low profile and whispered to the disciples, “ Do what he tells you?” Mary always stays behind so that the focus can be on Jesus. She became the first disciple, first follower of the Son. All of us benefit a lot from our pioneer ancestors in the faith. Jesus remained with Mary for 30 years. Who can know Jesus better than Mary, His Mother?Don’t we hear in the Acts of the Apostles that Mary had to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost with the entire group of believers who used to meet in the upper room? Mary must have a place in each of us who claim to be Christian, born of water and the Holy Spirit. She received the Holy Spirit twice, at Annunciation and at Pentecost. In Mary, we learn how to respect women. Any person who today segregate against women, does not love God to the full if l have to speak in an exaggerated way a bit. This means that all cultures, especially in male dominated societies that tend to view women as the second rate. In some governments woman have no say, this is a betrayal and missing women worldview, the world will be a place of untold violence. When can teach us how to treasure life. Women care, love with affection which comes not form the head but from the heart. Mary was not a passive women. She was the pioneer of women liberation because they appear among the lowly. Therefore, our honour of Mary, should go hand in hand in the respect of women, our mothers, our sisters who love with the heart. Violence against women that we hear and see is a big betrayal of the Scripture. If a person says he or she cannot listen to the testimony of a woman because his or her culture put them at the background, whoever that fellow is, must be ignorant of the Scripture as the first person to reveal to the church leaders about the resurrection which we celebrate these days, was a woman, Mary of Magdala. The Apostles were told to meet Jesus in Galilee by this woman. They were the first ones to appear at the tomb. Mary was full of courage, she and the beloved disciples were there at the Cross when other had run away. In Africa Women stay near us at birth, at moment of all sorts of sufferings and when we are in the coffin. So we are accompanied by women from birth to death, hence they deserve great respect and in any important decisions their voice ought to be heard. The chewa consult women to appoint a new chief.I see in the church that we have many congregation of men who have taken Mary as their model to follow Jesus. In this month of May, let us have a special appreciation of women in our societies worldwide, applaud their positive contributions and let us ask special favours from Mary, the new Eve, the woman par excellence,Mother of the New Adam. Mary sees all of us as her children and takes keen interest in each one of us. She is allergic to see divisions among her children as she is the Mother of peace. Such a woman needs special occasion to honour her in a special way. As Marists, we go to Jesus through Mary. Our focus is Jesus. You might have heard that when a wiseman points at the moon, the fool looks at the finger. In some of our places Catholics have been despised as worshipping Mary especially as you see the procession in the picture above. Don’t we all show respect to our heroes in our societies? Don’t we remember them yearly? Ourselves, we express special honour to Mary, we do not remain at Mary, we go beyond and we reach Jesus, and that is why our mission is to make Jesus known and loved. Jesus remains the centre and focus of our faith. In the mysteries of Light left us by the late Pope John Paul II, all are centred at the life of Jesus. May our processions with Mary draw us closer to the heart of Jesus, our central focus and who will always tell us to make disciples of all nations. All our devotions she helped us to refrain from gender bias common in different customs among our people. The dignity of women at all cost should be upheld, protected and promoted as complementary evangelizers after Mary. Concern for the weak and the needy as it was for Mary, ought to be our concern too. Let us promote Mary of the Bible and not of our own imagination.Simeon Banda, fms, Matola.

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