The Arm of My Son

01What a picture these words of our Blessed Mother at La Salette bring to mind as we reflect on their meaning! The heavens seem to open for a brief moment to our wondering gaze and we witness the blessed work of Mary’s ongoing intercession before the throne of God...

These words of the Blessed Mother – “I shall be forced to let go the arm of my Son” – besides recalling to us that profoundly Catholic doctrine of Mary's part in the great work of Divine Redemption, also bring to mind a sorry picture of humanity's baseless ingratitude to God.
Sin and Punishment Versus Love and Mercy
On the one hand, we can envision a sinful world, unmindful of God, given over to all manner of crime and self-indulgence; and, on the other hand, an outraged God, with patience, mercy and long-suffering exhausted, raising the …arm of justice over the head of guilty humanity. Yet the Psalmist reminds us: “Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger, abounding in mercy. He will not always accuse, and nurses no lasting anger; he has not dealt with us as our sins merit, nor requited us as our wrongs deserve” (Psalm 103:8-10).

At La Salette, the Sinless Virgin pledges to hold back "the arm of my Son!" How sad is our state when Jesus, the meekest of all, the Good Shepherd – the one who would not “crush the broken reed nor quench the smoking flax,” (Isaiah 42:3 and Matthew 12:20) – raises at last the hand of justice against his creatures, made in his own image and likeness. How sad that the one who “came not for the just, but for sinners,” (Luke 5:32), who “had compassion on the multitude,” (Matthew 14:14) finds his patience almost exhausted.
Our Forgiving Lord Calls Us to Submit in Faith to Him
There was a time when he went about doing good. He multiplied the loaves in the desert that the people might not faint in the way of hunger. He gave sight to the blind. He touched the leper and that leper was healed. His voice sounded in the emptiness of the tomb and the grave gave up its dead. He hung on the cross in bitter, soulful agony, and even then the great, loving heart of the crucified Jesus throbbed with a passionate love for sinful humanity.

Summoning all the remaining strength of his tortured Body, he cried out to heaven: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!" (Luke 23:34). Those gentle hands of Jesus, once raised only to bless, are now raised in judgement; that loving voice that spoke only love and forgiveness, now ready to proclaim condemnation!
Mary Holds Back What We Truly Deserve
If ever the human heart could learn the terrible effects of sin, it will understand it now at the feet of the Virgin of La Salette, contemplating that tragic scene she so vividly describes. “If my people will not submit, I shall be forced to let go the arm of my Son. It is so strong, so heavy that I can no longer withhold it.”

Yes, the arm of her Son is strong. It was always strong to help and to save; to carry home to the fold the lost sheep; to bring back from the grave the child of the widowed mother. Strong it was to carry the cross and so open once more the Gates of Paradise to us human beings. But now that strong arm of love and mercy has become strong with the judgment of Divine Justice – so long delayed and withheld. With tears flowing down her face, Mary says: “It is so heavy…” Yes, for his arm is weighted down with the sins of her ungrateful and selfish people.

It is only the whispered pleading of a mother's love – and of such a mother as was Mary – that averts that terrible – yet so justly merited – chastisement. Will humanity continue on, having abused the mercy and goodness of the Son, with the supreme folly of also dismissing the powerful witness of his Mother's love?
Return to the Lord with Your Whole Heart
02Mary reminds us of the secret, the sure way to escape the just punishments of God. We must return to God in faith and obedience, and be reconciled. Then his arm, so strong, so heavy, will be changed into an instrument of blessing and of mercy. It will remain over us, but now only to shelter and enfold us, only to protect and comfort us.

As the prophet Joel lovingly reminds us: “…return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God, For he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and relenting in punishment” (Joel 2:12-13).

In our need and sinfulness, we will be able to rest back on that blessed arm of her Son and, from his love and forgiveness, draw strength to do always what is right… Our life of complete submission and generous obedience to the will of God will make that arm just so much easier for Mary to sustain.

And no matter what our station in life may be, one day when all things shall stand revealed, our fellow human beings will acknowledge their indebtedness to us for cooperating in the ultimate salvation of humanity, supported by the Weeping Mother of La Salette.

(Article reprinted from the La Salette publication, “Our Lady’s Missionary”, from article, “The Arm of My Son”, September 1934, pgs. 141-142, edited)


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