Readings: 2 Timothy 4:1-8, Ps. 71:8-9,14-17,22, Luke 2:41-51

“He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them, and his mother kept all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:51)

Today’s first reading speaks about false and fake teachers. How do we identify such teachers? Firstly, they are teachers who do not practice what they teach, wolves in sheep's clothing. Jesus referred to such teachers as blind guides (Matthew 15:14), whitewashed tombs outwardly appearing beautiful but full of uncleanness. (Matthew 23:27). Secondly, false and fake teachers tell people exactly what they like to hear. St. Paul seemed to have seen a vision of our day and time when he wrote these words: “People will no longer endure sound teaching but with itching ears will gather teachers to suit their likings.” (2 Timothy 4:3)

Back then, people listened to sermons, shed tears over their sins, decided to repent, or deepened their love for God. Today, sermons have become motivational speeches: how to make more money, attract the right spouse, or make enemies die by force.

Paul writes to Timothy: “Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2). Preaching sound doctrines requires purity of heart, and this is what we celebrate today as we remember Mary, the mother of Jesus. What do we learn from Mary’s immaculate heart?

- Mary was never proud. She acknowledged she was just a handmaid of God and never sought praise and exultation from her fellow women, unlike the Pharisees, who loved to be greeted obsequiously in the marketplaces.

- Mary knew when to speak and when to be silent. In today’s Gospel passage, Mary “treasured everything in her heart.” She practised contemplative prayer, which some saints have described as the most perfect form.

- Mary had a sinless. This purity of heart made God fall in love with her and choose her to be his mother. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us a secret; “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8). Only a heart so pure can contain God as Mary did.

- Mary is always concerned about the well-being of others. When the Angel Gabriel informed her about Elizabeth’s pregnancy, she ran to stay with her for about three months until John the Baptist was born. She did this again for the couple at the wedding in Cana.

- As we reflect on Mary’s Immaculate Heart, let us look at our hearts. Is my heart like Mary's? What efforts am I making to guard my heart against all defilements of evil? Is my heart clean enough to accommodate God? Am I willing to listen to the truth and change my ways?

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, cleanse my heart from all impurity and sinfulness. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. May God's abundant blessings be upon us all. (The Immaculate Heart of Mary. Bible Study: 2 Timothy 4:1-8, Ps. 71:8-9,14-17,22, Luke 2:41-51).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu