Between Now and Not Yet
February is a strange month. It’s not quite winter and not quite spring. The Christmas season concluded early last month and Lent begins in early March. We find ourselves in an in-between phase.
When we gaze upon the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, we are also caught up in the “in-between.” Saint Paul might call it “the now and the not yet.” The icon draws us to the promise we find within: the healing power of the Word made flesh; the loving look of a mother who knows all we need and invites us to know the Son she presents to us. We see the angelic realm within, and we are drawn into the light and promise of a world yet to be.
Yet we are still on this side of the reality shown. We are still in this place where pain and suffering often take a great toll on us. We struggle to understand the world we encounter where it appears that sin reigns: racial injustice, war, violence, and a worldwide pandemic. How do we keep our eyes on the promise?
I remember a very similar world when I was a boy in Denver in the late 1960s and ’70s. Sometimes when I turn on the news or pick up a newspaper now, it feels like I’ve been here before. When the crushing weight of the world seemed too much back then, I would run into the arms of my own mother, who would dry my tears and hold me in the warmth of her hug. In that embrace, I knew things would be all right.
I am forever grateful to my mother for her great devotion to Mary, the Mother of God, and for teaching me to turn to our Blessed Mother for spiritual hugs and loving care. As a Redemptorist, I’ve also been blessed to have Br. Dan Korn, the Our Mother of Perpetual Help iconologist, as a spiritual director. He also taught me to turn to Mary in my times of doubt or need. I have turned to the Blessed Mother hundreds of times, and she has dried my tears and always led me to her Son who is the answer to every longing I’ve ever had.
Jesus was, is, and will always be the answer. I have learned over the years that it is the delicate balance between the now and the not yet that reminds me to go deeper into relationships—with Mary, her Son, and others.
So when the now seems too much, look upon the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help and see our Mother who knows what you feel, fear, and need. Look into her eyes of love. The movement from the dark that now surrounds us has a revelation in the light and golden glory manifested within the icon—Jesus, the Word made flesh.