Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Feast Day 16th July 

Our Lady of Mount CarmelWhen Jesus wanted to each his disciples he often took up the position of many religious teachers of Israel, that is, He went up to a high place.  Jesus sat down when he wanted to teach like all the wise people of his time, a practice that is part of the ceremony of doctrinal teaching even to this day.  One of the real milestones of the ministry of Jesus was when “He went up the mountain …. sat down …. And began to teach them ….”  He taught them the Beatitudes, the charter of living for disciples; “Blessed are the poor … Blessed are the pure in heart … Blessed are you when you suffer for my sake ….” (Matt 5:1-12)

Mountains are pivotal in the ministry of Jesus - from the mountain on which the devil offers him power over the entire world to the mountain where he hands over power to his disciples, the power he has received from the Father.  Jesus was drawn to mountains; places where our faith was founded; where our law was received; where prophets had lived and sacrifices were offered.  There are about 500 mentions of mountains in the Sacred Scriptures and there are 7 significant mountains.

Today we turn to Mount Carmel, the Holy Mountain in Egypt regarded as a ‘high place’ where idols were worshipped: the scene of Elijah’s confrontation with the 400 false prophets of Baal.  This is the mountain to which Berthold (mid 13thcentury) led his followers to live in caves in imitation of Elijah: where mysteriously they dedicated their chapel to Mary, the Mother of God.  This is where the Holy Order of Carmelites found its origin and its name.

Throughout the Gospels, mountains play a big part in the life and ministry of Jesus.  Mountains represent lofty events, the highest ideals and the Presence of the Transcendent God.  The Lord chose to reveal himself as God to the three closest disciples on Mount Tabor; the Lord went in distress to the Mount of Gethsemane; the Lord died on Mount Calvary; the Lord ascended to the Father from the Mount of Olives.

Mountains are places of Solitude and Prayer, of Contemplation and encounters with God.  By climbing them, we are reminded of our struggle; by their remoteness they provide us with solitude and, yes, by their sheer height they seem to bring us closer to God!  Whatever happens on a mountain stands out!  A chapel on a mountain dedicated to Mary speaks to hearts freed from the distractions of the world.

Though Mount Calvary can conjure up less happy sentiments, it was on this mountain that Mary was given to us, as our mother.  She had climbed many mountains in her life’s journey and courageously and generously travelled into the Hill Country as carer and proclaimer of the Good News.

On the Mountain of Calvary she stretches out her arms to embrace us, her new children.  But it is to Mount Carmel that we turn today to honour her.  Let us dwell a while on this Holy Mountain to be with her.  Let us consider her sufferings and join our much lesser sufferings to hers.  Let us be open to the affection and protection that she gives to us.  Let us marvel once more that the Lord has told us truly “This is your Mother”.  With her we praise the Lord from the height of Mount Carmel saying indeed “Holy is His name”.