Do you know when the Super Ball was invented? It was invented when I was 7 years old (1964), by chemist Norman Stingley. I first learned about it from seeing commercials on television, which showed the new magical ball soaring into the sky whenever someone threw it against the pavement. I later got to see it in action firsthand after several of my cousins convinced their mothers to buy them their own Super Balls.
Of course, as soon as I saw that my cousins had Super Balls, I asked my mom if she would buy me one. She initially refused, but after a few days of begging, she finally relented and made a deal with me. She told me that if I read the children’s bible from cover to cover, she would buy me a Super Ball. It was a sneaky way to get me to read the bible, but it worked.
I thought about my mom using my desire for a Super Ball to get me to read the bible when I saw Pope Francis’s message to the Americas last week. During his general audience on the eve of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, he said,
Tomorrow (December 12, 2013) is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Americas. I would like to greet all my brothers and sisters on that continent, and I do so thinking of the Virgin of Tepeyac.
When Our Lady appeared to Saint Juan Diego, her face was that of a woman of mixed blood, a mestiza, and her garments bore many symbols of the native culture. Like Jesus, Mary is close to all her sons and daughters; as a concerned mother, she accompanies them on their way through life. She shares all the joys and hopes, the sorrows and troubles of God’s People, which is made up of men and women of every race and nation.
When the image of the Virgin appeared on the tilma of Juan Diego, it was the prophecy of an embrace: Mary’s embrace of all the peoples of the vast expanses of America – the peoples who already lived there and those who were yet to come. Mary’s embrace showed what America – North and South – is called to be: a land where different peoples come together; a land prepared to accept human life at every stage, from the mother’s womb to old age; a land which welcomes immigrants, and the poor and the marginalized, in every age. A land of generosity.
That is the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and it is also my message, the message of the church. I ask all the people of the Americas to open wide their arms, like the Virgin, with love and tenderness.
What was it that the Holy Father said that made me think of my mom and the Super Ball? It was the first part of the fourth sentence of His message: “She shares all the joys and hopes, the sorrows and troubles of God’s people …” My mom has always been eager to share in my joys, hopes, sorrows, and troubles. Georgette has done the same with each of our children. Isn’t that what any good mother does?
Can you imagine the joy and hope Mary felt when she gave birth to the Son of God? And the joy and hope she experienced when He did what she asked and changed water into wine at the wedding in Cana? Can you imagine the depth of the pain and sorrow she felt when her Son was nailed to the cross? And the anguish she experienced when He was tortured, mocked, and ridiculed by the same people He came to Earth to save?
Mary was there for Jesus, and she is here for you and me. Reach out to her in all your joys, hopes, sorrows, and troubles. She will cleanse your soul and prepare you for the day you will meet the Son of God.