Mary, Refuge Of Sinners
by Very Rev. C.J. O’Connell, 1914
When sin entered the world, such a blight rested upon it, that God communed no longer with man as He was wont to do. There was no fit refuge for him. All was darksome. Gloom brooded over the habitation the Creator was accustomed to visit before its defilement. In his transgression man closed his heart against his God, who could find no delight in a place defiled by sin, where He once loved to dwell.
For four thousand years, tears and lamentations marked man’s pathway on earth. Deprived of God’s presence, all was sorrow, and darkness covered the face of the earth. From time to time some slight hope entered into the heart of man, when, through the rifts in the clouds that overspread the world, a faint light from Heaven would come to him. At last the day dawned. From His throne, the Almighty beheld a refuge in the person of an humble virgin, where He could find once more an abode among men. He would descend in the person of His Divine Son into that refuge in which He took delight, become one of us and repair the wrong done by Adam, father of the human race. No stain of any kind could exist where He chose to find shelter. Whilst He had taken upon Himself the sins of all men, He could not associate with iniquity or seek a refuge where sin was ever known. He is one with His Heavenly Father, who is eternal holiness, to whom the very shadow of sin is repulsive.
In Mary, however, Mary full of grace, Mary most pure, most chaste, Mary immaculate, He found a suitable refuge, where He could enter without umbrage to His infinite majesty and sanctity. Midst the lilies of Mary’s virginal womb the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. No sooner was Jesus the Saviour born of Mary, than the angels of God announced the glad tidings to man in the person of the shepherds out in the field tending their flocks, and bade them to go and find their Lord and God in the manger at Bethlehem. “And they came with haste: and they found Mary and Joseph and the Infant lying in the manger. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them” (Luke II. 16-20).
Protection and salvation had come to them through Mary, and they rejoiced with exceeding great joy that their Redeemer had found a refuge where He was free from the winds and gales of sin. The Magi, wise men from the East saw His star in the heavens and journeyed to Jerusalem to find Him, but no trace of Him could be found in that far-famed city. It was only when they reached the stable at Bethlehem that they found Him through Mary. “They found the Child with Mary, His Mother, and falling down they adored Him” (Matt. II. 4). The lowly and the great find Jesus through Mary, His only secure refuge.
Man had sinned in Adam, but he sighed for the promised Redeemer who came to him under the shelter of His Virgin Mother Mary. Only those who sought Him through Mary were blessed in finding Him, while all who looked for Him not in that secure refuge were left to their wicked pernicious ways. All men need Jesus and must seek Him, for all have sinned in their first parents. Those who have strayed further away from God by sin, require all the more the saving merits of the Redeemer to be cleansed of their iniquities and be restored to His grace and friendship.
The order of things established by Divine Providence has not changed. Hence, to avoid shipwreck on the boisterous sea of life, we must turn toward the star of the sea and direct our frail bark toward that secure refuge, where we will be safe from the billows of sin. We must turn toward Mary who sheltered Jesus and who is the refuge to which all sinners may look for safety and salvation in Christ Jesus, whom they will find through Mary, the secure refuge of sinners.
God honored her in the beginning, He still honors her. He lavished His graces upon her and she faithfully responded to all of them. All who are sin-burdened and far from their true home, should, like the soldier upon the battlefield, who, wounded and bleeding, thinks of his mother, remember their Mother Mary and seek her aid. She will be their secure refuge and under her benign protection, they will find their merciful Saviour, who, like the good shepherd, will place the lost and bruised sheep upon His shoulders and return it to the flock. The very angels will rejoice because he who was lost has returned, and found through Mary, a safe refuge for all time.