From Angelus Meditations on the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
This invocation from the Litany of the Sacred Heart, strong and persuasive as an act of faith, contains the entire mystery of Christ the Redeemer in a terse phrase. It recalls the words of Jesus addressed to Martha, crushed by the death of her brother, Lazarus: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, shall live,” (John 11:25).
Jesus is the life which spring eternally from the divine wellspring of the Father: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. In him was life, and the life was the light of men,” (John 1:1-4).
Jesus in himself is life: “For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted his Son also to have life in himself,” (John 5:26), he declares. In the intimate being of Christ, in his Heart, divine life and human life are harmoniously joined in total and inseparable unity. However, Jesus is also life for us. The purpose of the mission which he, the Good Shepherd, has received from the Father is “to give his life”: “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly,” (John 10:10).
Jesus is also the resurrection. Nothing is so radically opposed to the holiness of Christ, the Holy One of the Lord, (Luke 1:35; Mark 1:24), as sin: nothing is so opposed to him, source of life, as death.
There is a mysterious bond between sin and death, (Wisdom 2:24; Romans 5:12, 6:23; etc.); both are realities which are essentially contrary to God’s plan for man, who was not made for death but rather for life. In the face of every expression of death, Christ’s Heart was deeply moved, and for love of the Father and mankind, his brothers and sisters, he made his life a “combat stupendous,” (Roman Missal, Easter Sequence), against death. With a single word he restored physical life to Lazarus, to the son of the widow of Nain, and to the daughter of Jairus; by the strength of his merciful love he gave spiritual life back to Zacchaeus, to Mary of Magdala, to the adulterous woman, and to all those who acknowledged his saving presence.
Brothers and sisters, no one experienced that the Heart of Jesus is “life and resurrection” as Mary did:
• From him, the life, Mary received the life of original grace and by listening to his word and attentively observing his salvific actions she was able to preserve and nourish it;
• From him, the resurrection, she was associated in a singular way to his victory over death. The mystery of her assumption – body and soul – into Heaven is the consoling proof that Christ’s victory over sin and death is extended in the members of his Mystical Body, first of all in Mary, the “most eminent member” of the church (Lumen Gentium, No. 53).
Glorified in Heaven, with her motherly heart the Virgin is at the service of the redemption effected by Christ. “Mother of life,” she is close to every woman who brings a child into the world, and is near every baptismal font where Christ’s members are born of water and the Spirit, (John 3:5); “Health of the sick,” she is present wherever life is languishing, stricken by suffering and illness; “Mother of mercy,” she calls those who have fallen under the weight of guilt to return to the fountains of life; “Refuge of sinners,” she shows those who have strayed from it the way that leads to Christ: “Sorrowful Virgin,” near her dying Son, (John 19:25), she is to be found wherever life is drawing to a close. Let us invoke her now with the church: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”