Monday, January 25, 2016

Turn this mutha out?

Tomorrow is the feast of Saints Timothy and Titus.  These are two of the companions of St. Paul whose conversion we celebrated this morning. These men were faithful to the gospel of Christ and as such were left in charge of communities as presbyters.  Paul challenges them to live upright moral and faith filled lives.  A good example for all of us.

Then we come to the Gospel reading.  So many misinterpret this encounter to be one in which Christ was rude to his mother.   How can that be?  If Christ broke a commandment then he's not the Christ we claim him to be.  In order for this to make sense we have to look at it from the Apostolic teaching that we have received from the Church fathers and through the church.

“Who are my mother and my brothers?”
And looking around at those seated in the circle he said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of God
is my brother and sister and mother.”

How easy it would be to put our own personal interpretation on this.  To say that Christ was taking Mary's role in salvation history and making it into something insignificant.  Something minor.  We know though that Scripture informs us that Christ was without sin.  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)  Now in order for Christ to be the man we claim him to be, the propitiation for our sins... he must be this man who knew no sin.  Otherwise our faith, our religion is indeed in vain.  So if he is free of sin, how then could he have been dishonoring his mother?  That would be breaking the commandment which requires us to honor our mother and father, would it not? 

The Church fathers give us a much different view of this though.  In view of the rest of Scripture, in view of the teaching of the Apostles, we find that they did not see this as a moment in which Christ lowered Mary's position.. but rather expanded and fulfilled the Kingdom of God.  Jesus wasn't making the kingdom smaller... he wasn't making his family more refined... he was expanding it. He was showing us a very simple truth.  We are a family.   We are the body of Christ.  We are brothers and sisters.  We have a mother.  We have a Father.   We are one.  What we do affects one another. No man is an island.

In fact, Jesus says something so important to understanding this encounter.   He says "Whoever does the will of God."  Who can we say did the will of God more than the Blessed Virgin and Mother?  She gave an unconditional yes to his plan.   She gave birth to the Messiah.  She raised him.  She nursed and comforted the savior of the world.  If she, of all people, does not fit that qualifier, what hope have you and I?  No, Jesus wasn't narrowing the scope of his spiritual family.. he was broadening it.   He was expanding his family to include all people of faith.   To bring us together as a family.

We see this further expounded at the foot of the cross when Jesus says to his beloved disciple, behold your mother.  Mother behold your son.  Are we not the beloved disciples? How then do we reject Mary from our homes, from our lives?  How do we demean her and pretend she is not part of the spiritual family, as if she were just a box that God used to do something and then discarded.  What kind of loving God would that be?  One which just chose any old person to be the mother of his son?  In fact, we would claim that God makes each of us unique and beautiful.   He creates us with a plan for our lives.  He loves us completely, giving his very life for us.  Why then do we try to say that Mary was just any old person then?   If we are unique, how much more so the woman he designed and chose to be the mother of his son? 

Twenty years ago I would have dismissed any talk of the Blessed Mother.  I'd have told you she was just any old sinful person.  Today?  I will defend her.  Why?  Because I see her for who she truly is.  The new Eve, who gave an unconditional yes to God.   Who received a message from an angel of the Lord instead of a message from an angel of darkness.  I see her as the New Ark of the covenant, a tabernacle of flesh in which resides the true high priest, the true commandments written in flesh, the mana from Heaven.  Indeed, I see her as the disciple par excellence.    She allowed herself to be a conduit of God's grace to the world.  She continually pointed people to her Son.  She encouraged God's will to be done at all times.  She was present when the Church gathered.   She was there at the foot of the cross, weeping for her son but stoic.   Yes, if you want to know what it means to be a disciple?  Learn who Mary of Nazareth is.  

For indeed, she is the Queen of Heaven.  One cannot read Revelation 11-12 and not see her as the woman clothed in the light of the sun, crowned with authority over all of mankind.  You want to talk about a repressive religion?  Find the one that rejects the Virgin Mother.... Find the one that rejects her as important because she's just a woman... that's not my religion.  No Catholicism sees her as the most important human being to exist besides Christ himself. 

What about you?  Have you invited her into your home?  Into your life?  She doesn't replace God.. no... she's just part of the family.   God let's us all do that doesn't he?  He let's us share in his glory.   He wants us to be his hand and feet.  He wants us to be conduits of grace. The same with the spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Mother of Christ.  He is not offended when you show her love.  Rather, I believe he is happy to know that you love her too.  Don't worry... you can't love her more than he does.

His servant and yours,

"I must decrease, he must increase."