We once heard this story of a monk who dies and finds himself before the judgment seat in heaven. Angels solemnly carry out the tapestry of his life. He looks in horror at the faded, threadbare tapestry. There for all to see is the tattered reality of his sinfulness- the broken silences, harsh words spoken, petty jealousies, regrettable secret sins all right there. He lowers his head in remorse and embarrassment and calls out for Our Lady’s help, “O Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, our Hope.” Mary quickly comes to the monk’s rescue. She steps forward and whispers instructions to the angels. They reverse the worn-out tapestry and turn it upside down. Then with her finger Mary traces the outlines of her Son’s wounded face in the tatters.
You know at the beginning of a new year The New York Times and other magazines often publish the Year in Pictures, a collection of telling images from the past twelve months. Probably each of us has our own collection, our own interior year in pictures, first of all successes, graced choices; then failures, embarrassments- our poverty. And surely there is another big section of things that just happened, when we simply had no choice. (That is what it means to be poor after all- to have no choice.) The Mother of God shows us how to find the face of Jesus in all of these places.