Feast of St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord 2011 Listen

Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2011
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17 August Anno + Domini 2011 (Observed)
Luke 1:39-55 (Is. 61:7-11; Gal. 4:4-7)

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Seven centuries before the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, came down from heaven and was conceived by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, the prophet Isaiah prophesied:  "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exalt in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  For as the earth brings for its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.” 

And "when the fullness of time had come and God sent forth His Son to be born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons,” the woman to whom He was born, the Blessed Virgin Mary, declared, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant.”  Thus, is Isaiah's prophecy here, and indeed all of his prophesies about the coming, Virgin-Born Savior of the world, fulfilled.

Dear friends, we set aside this day on our calendar to remember and honor the Blessed Mother of our Lord Jesus, whom we rightly confess to be the Theotokos, the "God-bearer” or "Mother of God.”  We do so not so much to honor St. Mary in and of herself, but to honor the grace with which she was filled and the faith which was given to her by the Holy Spirit who overshadowed her and led her to proclaim, "Let it be done to me according to Your Word.”  For that grace and faith took up residence within her and has a Name:  The Holy One of God, Jesus the Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Thus, in honoring St. Mary, we honor her Son, our Lord, as she herself does, teaching us to do the same in the beautiful words of her Magnificat. 

St. Mary magnifies the Lord and her spirit rejoices in her Son, her God and Savior, for she knows that He has come to save her and all humanity.  It is for that reason that all generations will call her blessed, for she is the chosen vessel through which the salvation of the world would be poured out.  For the Son she bears has come to do great things for her and for all, and Holy is His Name.

What are the great things the Mighty One has come to do for her?  He looks on the humble estate of His servant.  That is, He regards her with kindness and favor.  He takes on flesh and blood from her in order to offer that flesh and blood back to His Father in perfect, unfailing obedience - even to death on a cross.  That's how He's her Savior and yours, too.  He is the God who has mercy. The One who does not stand aloof from us in our humanity, in our messes, in our pain.  He comes down to us.  How far down?  All the way down to being fetal matter in His mother's womb, his tiny heart beating beneath her own, and being flesh and blood nailed for you to Calvary's tree!  This is the God who has mercy and remembers to keep His promises.

But note that His mercy is for the lowly, the weak, the despised, the hungry.  Mercy isn't wanted by those who are proud, strong, famous and full.  They think there's nothing more that they need.  They can't imagine going begging before God - praying, Kyrie eleison, Lord, have mercy.

But St. Mary's not of that sort. And that's a miracle right there.  The Mother of God, you would think she'd give herself airs, wouldn't you?  I mean, wouldn't YOU, if YOU were so chosen?  But she remains a person who confesses herself of no-account, among the weak, the looked-down-on, and the hungering.  

Rather than proud, she becomes a model of humility for us.  We too have been blessed by her Son with blessings that could easily cause us to be filled with pride.  He has made us His sisters and brothers via the waters of Baptism.  He has adopted us as sons and daughters, brought us into His Divine Family, and given us the promise of sharing in His eternal Kingdom.  We have a place set for us at the Table on the day of the Great Feast and receive into ourselves already now the guarantee of that in His body and blood.  It would be exactly wrong for us to look at all the Lord's blessings to us and conclude:  "I must be something special then, mustn't I?”  Instead, with the Mother of our Lord we look at the huge size of the gift given and we shake our head in astonishment and awe that He would do that for the likes of us?  The outrageous size of the gift given leads not to pride, but to humility and awe.  Even to tears.  We are so unworthy of such love - how could we ever deserve it?  Never in a million years.  Yet there it is.

St. Mary invites us today into such marveling.  She would say to us:  "He has loved you with a love everlasting, deep, divine.  And so He took on flesh in me.  That's how He came to us who could not come to Him.  He came to bring us mercy because He remembered His promise to Abraham.  He came to pour out the blood that He took from me to blot out all this world's sin.  He came to offer His body to the Father so that we could have a way back home to the Father's house.  He came to pour out His Spirit into us so that we could be His temples.  He came to take everything that was ours by nature and give us everything that is His by grace; to clothe us with the garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness, with His very own perfectly holy and righteous self.  Who are we that He should love us so?  But He has!  He has!  Let us glorify Him together, for He who is mighty has done great things for us all and holy is His name."

"Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus!”  

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.