Saturday, March 25, 2017

Let it be done according to thy Word.

The Lord loves each and every one of us completely.  He knows us intimately, and is the only one who can see the depths of our heart and soul.   So much so that there is no created thing which can come close to knowing the real us.  Jeremiah says "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you." (See Jeremiah 1:5)   Is it any wonder then that we should take this day out of Lenten journey to celebrate the Virgin Mary and her unconditional yes to God?  He forms each of us with a task in mind, with a vocation.   With the blessed Virgin, he had the plan to redeem his people.   A plan that was in motion from the very beginning of creation (see Genesis 3:15), a plan echoed through out scripture. This morning we see written around eight centuries before the birth of Christ.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel,
which means "God is with us!"

This is why we Catholics hold Mary so high in regard.   There are those who accuse us of worshiping her, or putting her on a level playing field with God.  Not so.   However, we do believe in the communion of Saints.  We believe that, as St. Paul said, nothing can separate the body of Christ, "not even life or death." (see Romans 8:37-38)  We also believe that Mary who literally bore the Messiah in her own body for nine months did something that no other created being has ever done... gave herself over completely to God.  She was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, just as the Ark was when God's presence descended on it for the nation of Israel.   In all of this she chose to be a part of it.  God did not force himself on her, but offered to her the plan.  She responded with what we call the Fiat, "Let it be done to me according to thy word."

64 Through the prophets, God forms his people in the hope of salvation, in the expectation of a new and everlasting Covenant intended for all, to be written on their hearts. The prophets proclaim a radical redemption of the People of God, purification from all their infidelities, a salvation which will include all the nations. Above all, the poor and humble of the Lord will bear this hope. Such holy women as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Judith and Esther kept alive the hope of Israel's salvation. The purest figure among them is Mary.

Every time we as Catholics pray the rosary we repeat this scripture from the Gospel of Saint Luke. "Hail Mary, full of grace. Blessed art thou among women" (see Luke 1:28)   Why do we do this?  Because we see her as the first and best example of what it means to be a Disciple of Christ.   To give herself over so completely to God with an unconditional yes that allows God to reside inside of her.   To work and nourish that light inside of us so that Christ may be born into the world and into others. To be there when others are in need and to ask her Son to help them.   To point to Christ at all times and say "Do whatever he tells you."   To journey to the cross, when all others seem to have run away, and to stand with our own anguish as we join in the redemptive suffering of Christ for our salvation.  

488 "God sent forth his Son", but to prepare a body for him, he wanted the free co-operation of a creature. For this, from all eternity God chose for the mother of his Son a daughter of Israel, a young Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee, "a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary":
The Father of mercies willed that the Incarnation should be preceded by assent on the part of the predestined mother, so that just as a woman had a share in the coming of death, so also should a woman contribute to the coming of life.

We also see Mary as our spiritual mother.   At the foot of the cross, as she stood mourning her son, Jesus turned to the beloved disciple and said "This is your mother."  To Mary he said "This is your son."   The Bible then records that "from that hour the disciple took her into his home."  (see John 19:26-27) You and I are the beloved disciples of Christ.   Are we bringing her into our home?   Are we modelling our life in a way that reflects true discipleship?   Are we, as Mary did, keeping all these things in our heart?   Are we saying "yes" to God unconditionally?  Ready to accept the cross, even if it means great loss and anguish to us?  God chose her, just as he has chosen you and I to fulfill a specific role in life.   Are you ready to take on that call? That vocation?   That way of life?  Something to meditate on today as we celebrate Momma Mary and all that she stood for.

His servant and yours,
Brian Mullins

"He must increase, I must decrease."

A reflection on the readings for the Solemnity of the Annunciation of our Lord, March 25, 2017