Friday, 15 November 2013

Mary

I come across and thought about talking on Medjugorje, but I have decided not to. The CDF prefect asked the US bishops not to allow related events that that the authenticity of the 'apparitions' for granted. But the matter is still being investigated by Rome, hence it follows that the decision of the local bishop in Medjugorje stands. Though, I wonder whether Pope Francis was also thinking of making a gentle point about Medjugorje here: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1304802.htm. Certainly those sentiments reflect my concern regarding these reported 'apparitions'.

Now, I thought it would be better to talk on the Blessed Virgin, before even talking on these details - why do apparitions matter at all? After all, Mary is just the mother of God. Yes, Mary mothered God. God is the uncreated one, existing before all ages, and He was born of Mary. Any mention of Mary recalls the incarnation of Jesus Christ. When we proclaim the incarnation in the creed or Angelus we bow or genuflect. We don't bow for the crucifixion or death, just for the incarnation. And the Church is waking us up to the awesomeness of the incarnation. The Son humbled himself in Obedience to the Father, undoing the disobedience of the first son of God we hear of in the Holy Bible (Lk 3:38) - Adam. It is often the mind of the Church (I first saw it articulated so clearly in The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Ott)) that we were saved through Christ's life, or certainly that the incarnation was sufficient. Jesus Christ didn't have to die but did so to prove His love, to prove who He was. But never make the mistake that Jesus' ministry started at age 30 - He had a hidden ministry before this, but his obedience to Mary and Joseph (see the finding of the  Child Jesus, Lk 2:51) gave glory to God. And of course, as the Son of God, He was present at the creation of the world. Indeed, it is through the same person as Jesus that everything and anything came into being.

So the Father chose Mary as the instrument to bring Jesus, the Light, into our world. We can say, without much argument, Jesus came to us through Mary. This is obviously true in a literal, biological manner to any Christian. But as a Catholic, along with many other Christians, the truth of that statement is wider than this literal view. Without Mary, we would still be separated from God by sin. Mary is called the Mediatrix of Grace, and the co-Redemptix. Both these statements seem controversial but linguistically they don't really say anything on Mary that isn't plainly obvious as shown above. Co-redemptix means she shared in God's work of Redemption, but we can all do that - when we share the Gospel we co-operate with God's redemptive plan for all peoples. I believe God continues to use Mary to bring his blessings and grace to us. Jesus offered His mother to us on the cross, when he gave her to His beloved disciple (Jn 19:26-7).

Mary is a powerful intercessor before Jesus (think: Wedding of Cana), and we can trust her maternal wisdom for our own Good. We also know that she can present our prayers before God, and Louis de Montford put it like this:
Let us pray, then, to our dear Mother and Queen that having accepted our poor present, she may purify it, sanctify it, beautify it, and so make it worthy of God.Any good our soul could produce is of less value to God our Father, in winning his friendship and favour, than a worm-eaten apple would be in the sight of a king, when presented by a poor peasant to his royal master as payment for the rent of his farm. But what would the peasant do if he were wise and if he enjoyed the esteem of the queen? Would he not present his apple first to her, and would she not, out of kindness to the poor man and out of respect for the king, remove from the apple all that was maggoty and spoilt, place it on a golden dish, and surround it with flowers? Could the king then refuse the apple? Would he not accept it most willingly from the hands of his queen who showed such loving concern for that poor man? "If you wish to present something to God, no matter how small it may be," says St Bernard, "place it in the hands of Mary to ensure its certain acceptance. (the Secret of Mary)

On a less supernatural level, Mary is a great model of Faith, Hope and Charity. We accepted God's call for her life, and showed us how to follow Him when we don't understand why. I often ask Mary to give me her faith; especially before Communion in which my body receives His body, as Mary received Jesus into hers. Finally, I like to use the Song of Mary after Communion. she praised God with these words when she was the first person who's body contained the fullness of Jesus Christ who is God and Man.

My soul glorifies the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour. 
He looks on his servant in her lowliness;
henceforth all ages will call me blessed.
The Almighty works marvels for me.
Holy his name! 
His mercy is from age to age,
on those who fear him. 
He puts forth his arm in strength
and scatters the proud-hearted.
He casts the mighty from their thrones
and raises the lowly. 
He fills the starving with good things,
sends the rich away empty. 
He protects Israel, his servant, 
remembering his mercy, 
the mercy promised to our fathers,
to Abraham and his sons for ever.

And I guess to show its okay to appropriate the songs of praises of biblical figures, Mary pretty much stole this from Hannah (mother of Samuel) in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.
‘My heart exults in the Lord; 
my strength is exalted in my God.
My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory. ‘
There is no Holy One like the Lord, no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God. 
Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; 
for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. 
The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. 
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry are fat with spoil. 
The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. 
The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 
The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts. 
He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honour. 
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world. 
He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness; for not by might does one prevail. 
The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered; the Most High will thunder in heaven. 
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; 
he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed.’

And just to underline the point about Mary's role in relation to Jesus we can look to a off-the-cuff comment in the Old Testament. Hannah's son anointed the first 2 kings of Isreal, the 3rd king was wise, king Solomon (son of king David). Solomon's mother, Bathseba came to visit the King.
"So Bathsheba went to King Solomon, to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. The king rose to meet her, and bowed down to her; then he sat on his throne, and had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat on his right." (1 Kings 2:19)

Hence, we find the role of the Queen mother is central to the rule of the Kingdom, so the mother of the King of the Universe surely holds a respected place in this kingdom of God, no?


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