Jan. 5, 2021

Revisiting Mary


“Then Simeon blessed them and said to His mother Mary: “Behold, this Child is appointed to cause the rise and fall of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed - and a sword will pierce your soul as well.” Luke 2:34,35.

Thoughts, contemplations for post Christmas days. It’s Epiphany Eve: The story doesn’t end on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The holiday used to be carefully observed through January 6, traditionally observing the arrival of the magi to worship Christ. 

Maybe we could also focus on for awhile and ponder the one into whose care God entrusted His Son as an unborn child, an infant, and as a child and young man growing up.

Mary, chosen by God, in giving God her “yes” to Gabriel's announcement to her, became the provider of the flesh and blood body of Jesus the Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. God incarnated through Mary, in other words, becoming both fully God and fully Man. 

While she would have known the joys of being our Lord and Savior's mother, as His life and ministry unfolded, and He was loved and received by many, how grievous it must have been for her to watch as He was also "despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief”! (Isaiah 53:3) He taught with divine authority and wisdom, and loved, miraculously healed, and fed people. He drove out demons. What consternation it must have brought, especially as she saw respected religious leaders denounce Him! Even some among His own family rejected Him.

She stood at the foot of the cross, and watched her Son crucified as a criminal, set up by the same religious leaders in league with the state, as a traitor to Rome, as they mockingly called Him the King of the Jews. Did she comprehend what that moment actually was? (Do any of us really?) Even then, in His love, in His agony, from the cross, not thinking of Himself, with His dying breath, He placed her into the care of John (the only disciple who followed Him to the cross). His last concern was for His mother, even as He accomplished Redemption for all mankind. 

What joy must have filled and healed her pain pierced, grief stricken heart when she beheld Him raised from the dead three days later! 

And there she was, also in that upper room on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14) - to be filled with the Holy Spirit, along with about 120 other disciples, who were devoting themselves to prayer and waiting there, as they were told. She essentially vanishes from the Scripture canon thereafter. 

Martin Luther had some amazing things to say about Mary: "She is the highest woman and the noblest gem in Christianity after Christ . . . She is nobility, wisdom, and holiness personified. We can never honor her enough. Still honor and praise must be given to her in such a way as to injure neither Christ nor the Scriptures." (Sermon, Christmas, 1531) 

What an outstanding and magnificent exemplar Mary is for all women to emulate in the Church - the very essence of selflessness, purity, humility, and unconditional surrender to God. She is someone with whom especially the young women of today would do well to become acquainted and to study her attitude and way of life. 

She truly embodies being a servant of all, as she bore within her own body the One Who truly is the Servant of us all - in His incarnation and life and teachings, in His death, His Resurrection, and His ascension - as even now He is seated at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for sinners, having been given all authority in Heaven and on Earth.

Would it be an appropriate stretch of the imagination - when receiving the Lord’s Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist - to recall His precious Mother, and give thanks for her, without whom our Holy Savior would never have been given to us who receive Him?

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