There are three promises in the First Reading:
- I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand. God holds us and will not let us fall.
- It is I who say to you, “Do not fear; I will help you.” He commands us not to be afraid because he will help us.
- Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you insect Israel! I will help you, your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. He commands us again, not to be afraid because he will help us.
- The Lord your God. He is God, Almighty.
- Your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. He is the One who will redeem Israel. He is Holy because there is no other god.
But this coming of Jesus will not be easy. It is not for the weak. Jesus said in the Gospel, the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. We cannot sit and wait for Jesus to come. We need to fight for it. But this is not a political kingdom. It is a kingdom that God will establish in our lives. We need to fight to make sure God reigns in our lives. How do we do this?
For one, we must remain faithful to God. The problems we have, the difficulties we have do not come from God. But God uses them to form us into who he wants us to be. He uses them to teach us to respond to him, to invite him to our lives, to let him take charge of our lives. This is not easy to do because we have our own will that always runs counter to the will of God. This is why violence is needed when it comes to our holiness. We must fight against our desire to do things our way.
We celebrate our Lady of Loreto. Tradition has it that this is the house where the Blessed Virgin Mary was immaculately conceived and grew up. This was probably the house of St Anne and St Joachim. Tradition also says this is where the Annunciation took place and therefore, the “Yes” of Mary was given. This was where Joseph, Mary and Jesus lived on their return from Egypt. Tradition has it that this house was transported to Croatia from Nazareth after the Basilicas that enclosed it were destroyed by Saracens in 1090 and Muslims in 1263. The house was miraculously moved to Albania in December 10, 1294 due to a Muslim invasion of Albania. It was transported to Recanti Italy first, before moving to Loreto, Italy, where it stands now.
We venerate Mary in the title of Lady of Loreto because we remember her immaculate conception, birth, maturation and the Annunciation. This is where The Word was made flesh. The incarnation is the visible sign that God’s promises in the First Reading will be fulfilled because God shows us he is with us. He became flesh so there is no need to fear, God will help us. At the presentation, Mary was told, a sword shall pierce your heart. This was seen in her life of sorrows. This life requires courage and strength, always holding on to God’s promise, even when at times, God seems absent. Yet, our Lady persevered and conquered sin. In her is fulfilled what Jesus said: the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. The circumstances in Mary’s life were violent. Yet, she fought against these and in the end, she took the kingdom by the force of her humility and consent to let God do to her as he wills.
Lord, when you seem absent, let me obey your command not to be afraid. When I feel abandoned, let me believe that you will help me. Nothing is impossible to you. And Lord, let me conquer these sufferings, doubts, fears through the power of your name. Mary, our Lady of Loreto, teach me to trust Jesus. Teach me to allow him to do to me as he wills, so that he can do great things for me.