MARY’S CHARITY TOWARDS HER NEIGHBOUR.
Any who love Me love what I love, said Jesus to St. Catharine of Genoa. Now, as there never was and never will be anyone who loved God as much as Mary loved Him, so there never was and never will be anyone who loved her neighbour as much as she did. Great was the mercy of Mary towards the wretched when she was an exile here on earth, but far greater is it now that she reigns in Heaven.
Love of God and love of our neighbour are commanded by the same precept: And this commandment we have from God, that he who loveth God love also his brother-(l John iv. 21). St. Thomas says that the reason for this is that he who loves God loves all that God loves. St. Catharine of Genoa one day said: “Lord, Thou willest that I should love my neighbour, and I can love none but Thee.” God answered her in these words: “All who love Me love what I love.” But as there never was, and never will be, anyone who loved God as much as Mary loved Him, so there never was, and never will be, anyone who loved her neighbour as much as she did.
Father Cornelius a Lapide, on these words of the Canticles, King Solomon hath made him a litter of the wood of Libanus . . . the midst he covered with charity for the daughters of Jerusalem-(Cant. iii. 9, 10), says, “this litter was Mary’s bosom, in which the Incarnate Word dwelt, filling it with charity for the daughters of Jerusalem; for Christ, Who is love itself, inspired the Blessed Virgin with charity in its highest degree, that she might succour all who had recourse to her.”
So great was Mary’s charity when on earth that she succoured the needy without even being asked; as was the case at the marriage-feast of Cana, when she told her Son that family’s distress, They have no wine-(John il. 3), and asked Him to work a miracle. On, with what speed did she fly when there was question of relieving her neighbour! When she went to the house of Elizabeth to fulfil an office of charity, she went into the hill-country with haste-(Luke i. 39). She could not, however, more fully display the greatness of her charity than she did in the offering which she made of her Son to death for our salvation. On this subject St. Bonaventure says: “Mary so loved the world as to give her only-begotten Son.” Hence St. Anselm exclaims: “O blessed amongst women, thy purity surpasses that of the Angels, and thy compassion that of the Saints!” “Nor has this love of Mary for us,” says St. Bonaventure, ” diminished now that she is in Heaven; but it has increased, for now she better sees the miseries of men.” And therefore the Saint goes on to say: “Great was the mercy of Mary towards the wretched when she was still in exile on earth; but far greater is it now that she reigns in Heaven.”
O Mother of mercy, thou wast all filled with the love of God, obtain for me His pure and holy love. Thou wast all love towards thy neighbour, obtain for me charity towards my neighbour. O Mary, make me a Saint.
St. Agnes assured St. Bridget that “there was no one who prayed without receiving grace through the charity of the Blessed Virgin.” Unfortunate, indeed, should we be, did not Mary intercede for us! Jesus Himself, addressing the same Saint, said: “Were it not for the prayers of My Mother, there would be no hope of mercy.” Blessed is he, says the Divine Mother, who listens to my instructions, pays attention to my charity, and, in imitation of me, exercises it himself towards others: Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts of my doors -(Prov viii. 34). St. Gregory Nazianzen assures us that “there is nothing by which we can with greater certainty gain the affection of Mary than by charity towards our neighbour.” Therefore, as God exhorts us, saying, Be ye merciful, as your Father is also merciful -(Luke vi. 36), so also does Mary seem to say to all her children: “Be ye merciful, as your Mother is also merciful.” It is certain that our charity towards our neighbour will be the measure of that which God and Mary will show us: Give, and it shall be given, to you. For with the same measure that you shall mete withal, it shall be measured to you again.-(Luke vi. 38). St. Methodius used to say, ” Give to the poor, and receive Paradise.” For the Apostle writes that charity towards our neighbour renders us happy both in this world and in the next: But piety is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come-(1 Tim. iv. 8). St. John Chrysostom, on these words of Proverbs, he that hath mercy on the poor lendeth to the Lord-(Prov. xix. 17), makes a remark to the same effect, saying, “He who assists the needy makes God his debtor.”
O Mother of Mercy, thou art full of charity for all; forget not my miseries; thou seest them full well. Recommend me to God, who denies thee nothing. Obtain for me the grace to imitate thee in holy charity, as well towards God as towards my neighbour. Amen.