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Knowing Mary

Jesus Christ is the infinite perfection of humility. The Almighty God humbly took on our human form in order to be one with us in every way: birth, hunger, friendships, fear, joys, sorrow, anger, confusion, love, longing, suffering and death – but he never sinned. He won for us the grace to be cleansed of Original Sin, and to never sin after that, but unfortunately most of us do sin. I say most of us, because preborn babies and infants are unable to sin; but most adults do sin, except for the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was spotless, pure in body and soul. She never sinned, not even the smallest venial sin, but she too experienced every human emotion we do.

It is for this reason the Church heralds her as the perfect disciple, the honor of our human race. Since 1954, every August 22, the Church throughout the Catholic world celebrates the Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Since we celebrate that God assumed her into heaven, body and soul, which we celebrated on Mon. Aug. 15 (but this year this date landed on a Monday so it was not a holy day of obligation), we also celebrate that she is the Queen Mother of Christ, the King of kings, and shares in his governance of heaven and earth.

The salient Scripture passages that point to Mary‘s exultant role are:

When the God sent the Archangel Gabriel to her and declared, ―Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.‖ (Lk. 1:28) The angel told Mary she was to be the Mother of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

When Mary proclaimed her Magnificat, ―My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid‘s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.‖ Lk. 1:46b-48. In this case Mary calls God her savior be-cause God helped her overcome every temptation with his grace, and so she never sinned. Hopefully we too have experienced God saving us when we overcome temptation. Yet, we also call God our savior when he pulls us from the mire of sin after we succumb to temptation, fall into sin and call out for his mercy to be forgiven.

―While they were there (in Bethlehem), the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her first-born son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger…‖ Lk. 2:6-7

―Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother‘s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‗Woman, behold, your son.‘ The he said to the disciple, ‗Behold, your mother.‘ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.‖ Jn. 19:25-27.

40 days after Jesus had risen from the dead, we find Mary in the upper room (where Jesus and his 12 apostles had the Last Supper) with many other disciples praying for 9 days, the first novena, until Pentecost: ―All these de-voted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his

brothers.‖ Act. 2:13-14.

The most beautiful and dramatic scripture passage that points to Mary‘s royalty is found in the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation: ―A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, … [who] stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne. The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God…

―Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did no prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it… When the dragon saw that it had been thrown down to the earth, it pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly to her place in the desert…The serpent,… spewed a torrent of water out of his mouth after the woman to sweep her away with the current. But the earth helped the woman and opened its mouth and swallowed the flood…The dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus.‖ (My emphasis)

No doubt the woman and her child are a reference to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ. No wonder it is sometimes difficult to be Catholic, yet still rewardingly possible. But praise God that the offspring of Mary, we who follow her humility, courage, and tenacity, by following God‘s commandments and giving witness to Jesus Christ (especially by celebrating his mercy in the Sacrament of Confession), will be brought to the eternal reward of heaven!

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Thomas McCabe

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