Doing Mission Impossible

A few weeks ago, some of the brother seminarians and I got together to study for a quiz in Latin (yes, Latin). So, we got together in the very classroom where we have the class, and we started going over the different Latin words that we needed to learn.

Now, in English, we have a whole bunch of ways that we can say a word. OK, take the verb, “bring”. You can say bring, brought, have brought, had brought, was brought, and so forth. A whole bunch of ways, depending on how you’re using the word. Well, for this Latin quiz, we had to know 180 ways to say verbs.

That’s like a mission impossible.

So, we started studying, and my friend Jeff takes a look at all the words, and you can see the discouragement. A few minutes into it, and I see him packing up his books into his bag.

“Where are you going?” “That’s it. I’m doing it. I’m going to my mother. Ever since I was a kid, she always helped me learn, with memorization like this. See you guys later.”

And off he went. Just like that.

So, a few hours later in the night, I am walking by his room, and he’s at his desk. I poked in.

“How’d it go, Jeff?”

“I have it all in my head. My mother helped me learn it all. She knows exactly how I learn, and I knew that if I didn’t go to her, I never would have learned it.”

I couldn’t believe it. Jeff had so much trouble learning Latin, and now, well, he just did mission impossible. I don’t know what he did there with his mother. But I do know that they did mission impossible.

When John the beloved disciple is standing at the foot of the Cross, there is a lot going on, right? Let’s see, well, in a matter of 12 hours, His mentor and friend and savior had gone from being on top of the world in Jerusalem, to total humiliation in front of everyone. All the dreams for a restoring of the kingdom of Israel through Jesus were out the window. All his little group, the eleven who had been with him for the last 3 years, were scattered. One had betrayed Jesus, another, the very one who was the head of the group, had denied Him altogether, and the other nine ran for the hills when things got tough. And that’s just the beginning. It looked like the new life that had begun, it was all over, faster than it started.

And it’s there, when the soldiers are casting lots for his garments, the very garments that miraculously healed the women with the hemorrhage, the same personal garments made without a seem just like the Law requires for the high priest, the very garments that had protected Him from total naked humiliation in front of the world to see, that he’s realizing:

Jesus’ words. How does this fit in? What do they all mean now? How can I understand all this? What am I going to do? In the classroom of discipleship, it is like he is being asked to put together 180 Latin verbs into his head. Mission impossible.

In that moment, the Lord looks at His mother and the beloved disciple, and He says to him, “Behold, your mother!” (Jn 19:27) …

Tradition has it that the beloved disciple wrote the Gospel more than fifty years after the crucifixion. If you have the time, if you look at the Gospel of John and read the Passion and death of the Lord, you will find that now the beloved disciple understands it all. He knows why it all happened: This was to fulfill the word which he had spoken (Jn 18:9), This was to fulfill the word which Jesus had spoken (18:32), this was to fulfill the Scripture (19:24), to fulfill the Scripture (19:28), these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled (19:36), and again another Scripture says (37)

Now everything makes sense. They did mission impossible.

When life doesn’t make sense, when you feel overwhelmed, when hanging in there seems like mission impossible, the Lord gives us His mother. Remember that no one knows us like her, and she has what we need to make sense of the chaos and act.

With Mary our mother, we can do mission impossible.

“Behold, your mother!”

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