Jesus Hears His Mother


On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and His disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect Me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever He tells you.”   John 2:1-5  

In this final installment of Mary as our Mother, I wanted to look at her interaction with her Son, Jesus.

First we notice, Mary is told of, or at least sees a need. She takes that need to Jesus, and He meets that need. This is the prime example that we, as Catholics, use to teach Mary’s intersession for us. Of course there is the Old testament example as well.

Without getting “to” historical, here’s  a brief history of what is known as “the Queen Mother”.

In the ancient near East, most nations were monarchies ruled by a king; most of these cultures practiced polygamy, so a king may have had several wives. Problems arose from this like, who should be honored as queen, and whose son should recieve the right succession to the throne? So in most of these cultures, these two birds were killed by one stone. The woman ordinarily honored as queen was not the kings wife, but the kings mother!

Israel begged Samuel to give them a king “that we may be like all the nations” (I Sam. 8:19-20). God grants their request, making Israel’s monarchy a foreshadowing of the Kingdom of God.

We see the Queen Mother from David’s first successor Solomon, and his mother Bathsheba through the fall of Jerusalem to the Babyloian empire with King Jehoiachin and his mother Nehushta (2 Kings 24:8-15, Jer.13:18).

Read the story in I Kings 2:12-22, of Solomon and Bathsheba. This example is how we understand the mystery of the miracle at Cana. Mary approaches Jesus her son to intercede for the people-like Bathsheba intercedes for Adonijah to Solomon-Mary brings Jesus the need and tells the servers,”Do whatever He tells you.” She looks for obedience to Him, not herself. Jesus speaks to His mother as her superior, yet deferring to her request.

I hope this has helped in your understanding of Mary’s role in salvation history. If I’ve missed anything, let me know and I’ll do my best to find it! It’s very helpful to know that we are not alone in this world. It is also very helpful to know that on the other side, in heaven, there is a “cloud of witnesses” praying for us and cheering us on to victory, to finish the race. Our spiritual Queen Mother Mary, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and Christ Jesus Himself. Waiting to say to us, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

The Magnificat: Mary Praises God


And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For He has look upon His handmaids lowliness; behold, from now on will all generations call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear Him. He has shown might with His arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry He has filled with good things; the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped Israel His servant, remembering His mercy, according to His promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” Mary remained with her [Elizabeth] about three months and then returned to her home.   Luke 1:46-56 

I include Mary’s song here for a simple reason. For us to see her humility. She knew exactly who she was before God. She magnifies (proclaims) the Lord’s greatness, rejoicing in God as her Savior. How He’s done great things for her. His mercy, His might, dispersing the arrogant. Throwing down rulers, lifting up the lowly, filling the hungry and sending the rich away empty. And lastly; remembering His promises.

She does say something interesting toward the beginning though; behold, from now on will all generations call me blessed.

When and why did we stop honoring this part of scripture? Isn’t this the infallible, inerrant Word of God? Yet we treat (at least I used to) this part, like it doesn’t exist.

The Jews referred to Abraham as their father and Jesus didn’t say, “You can’t say that, you can’t honor Abraham in that way, that’s idolatry!” What He actually said was, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham.” (John 8:39)

If we are God’s children, shouldn’t we be doing God’s work? Doing the work of Jesus? How many times have I copped out on that by saying, “Well, I ain’t Jesus.” Because we know that even though Jesus was man, He was God,too. But Mary, she was all human, and submitted perfectly to the will of God, from the beginning.

Go to Jesus in prayer and ask Him yourself how to honor His mother, our mother. That’s what I did.

Poll: big shift among practicing and non-practicing Catholics after papal visit


New Haven, CT – New polling data released by the Knights of Columbus shows that Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States in April produced a sharp jump in the proportion of American Catholics with a more positive view of the pope following his trip. 

 

The new information provides data specifically about Catholics, and is a companion to the analysis released last week about the views of Americans generally.  The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion interviewed 1,013 adults nationwide, and the survey results issued today are from an oversample of an additional 502 Catholics nationwide, and are statistically significant at ±4.4%.  All polling was done between April 22 and April 29, 2008, immediately following the pope’s return to Rome.

 

Of particular interest are data showing much more positive views among both practicing and non-practicing Catholics.  For example, the proportion of practicing Catholics describing Benedict positively as a spiritual leader went from 70% before the visit to 82% afterward, a 12% jump.  Among non-practicing Catholics, the proportion went from 62% before the visit to 79% afterward, a 17% jump.

 

A majority of Catholics, 54%, said they were more in touch with their spiritual values as a result of the pope’s visit, and 41% said they were more likely to vote in the November elections as a result.  Sixty-four percent of Catholics said they better understand the Catholic Church’s position on important issues as a result of the trip.

 

Among the other key findings:

 

·         88% of practicing Catholic, and 73% of non-practicing Catholics say the trip met or exceeded their expectations.

·         72% of Catholics have a more positive view of the Church as a result of the visit, including 82% of practicing Catholics and 56% of non-practicing Catholics.

·         81% of Catholics – practicing and non-practicing – have a positive view of Pope Benedict, compared to 63% before the visit.

·         72% have a more positive view of the Catholic Church, including 82% of practicing and 56% of non-practicing Catholics.

·         82% of American Catholics view Pope Benedict positively as a world leader

 

Also important, half (50%) say they are more likely to lead a moral life and make family a bigger part of their lives, while nearly 40% say they are more likely to become more active in their community or church.

 

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said that the poll results “show clearly that Pope Benedict has presented the Catholics of the United States with a tremendous opportunity.  Americans are a religious people, and they responded very positively to the message of faith, hope and love that the Holy Father delivered throughout his visit.  It is now up to all of us in the Catholic community to walk through the door he has opened for us, and work together to build a civilization of love.”

Jesus Indwells His Mother


And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the child leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting touched my ears, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”   Luke 1:41-45    

Along with drawing on the tradition of 2 Samuel, Luke also draws on the tradition of Chronicles. He now introduces us to a highly significant expression once connected with the Ark. This expression is found in verse 42, when Elizabeth “exclaimed” at Mary’s arrival. The expression seems ordinary enough, but it is rarely used in the Bible. Actually, this is the only place it’s found in the New Testament. In the Greek Old Testament, it only appears 5 times. You might think, “So! What’s the big deal about that?” Well, every-time that expression is used in the Greek O.T., it forms part of the stories surrounding the Ark of the Covenant. In particular, it refers to the chanting, singing and music made by the Levitical singers and musicians when they glorified the Lord in song, as David carried it in procession to Jerusalem (I Chron. 15:28, 16:4-5). It is also used as Solomon transferred the Ark to it’s final resting place in the Temple.

Now, let’s look at what Elizabeth actually said.

Blessed are you recalls words spoken long ago to Jael and Judith in the O.T. [Judg. 5:24-27, Jud. 13:18] they were blessed for their heroic faith and courage in warding off enemy armies hostile to Israel. Both these ladies assured Israel’s victory by assassinating the opposing military commander with mortal blows to the head. Mary follows in their footsteps. In her case though, the victory won and the enemy destroyed are much greater! She will bear the Savior who crushes the head of the serpent, sin and death underfoot!  [Gen. 3:15, I John 3:8].

Now,  the mother of my Lord title reveals the twin mysteries of Jesus’ divinity and Mary’s divine maternity (CCC 449, 495). Note that all occurrences of the word “Lord” in this context, as well as in the surrounding context, refer to God [v. 28, 32, 38, 46, 58, 68]. Mary’s divine motherhood was the first Marian doctrine set forth at the Council of Ephesus. She was given the title, Theotokos– bearer of God, to show that Jesus had one nature that was fully human and fully divine! This is where the phrase, “Mother of God” comes from, right here in sacred scripture. Jesus being fully God and fully man is born of a woman (Gal. 4:4) who gives birth to the Divine Son.

As stated last time, these definitions of Mary do not imply that she is divine, only that her Son is. And as God found her worthy to be the mother of His only begotten Son, may we find in our hearts a place for honoring her, too.

Next: The Magnificat.

Jesus Leads His Mother


In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the child leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting touched my ears, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”……….And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.     Luke 1:39-45, 56  

Compare St. Luke’s telling of the “Visitation” and David’s efforts to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem found in 2 Samuel 6. St. Luke tells of Mary as she “arose and went” into the hill country to a city in Judah, reminding us of how David “arose and went” into the same region centuries earlier to retrieve the Ark (2 Sam. 6:2). Elizabeth, at the arrival of Mary, is struck by the same sense of awe and unworthiness before her that David felt standing before the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sam. 6:9). St. Luke goes on to show the joy Mary’s greeting caused in the infant John as he leapt with excitement, much as David’s excitement caused him to leap and dance before the Ark of the Lord (2 Sam. 6:16). As the Visitation draws to a close, St. Luke adds that Mary stayed in the “house of Zechariah” for “three months”, recalling how the Ark had remained in the “house of Obed-edom” for a period of “three months”(2 Sam. 6:11).

As we see St. Luke drawing on the tradition of 2 Samuel, he’s revealing to us Mary’s role in salvation history. Like that holy gold and wooden chest of long ago, Mary is a sacred vessel where the Lord’s presence dwells intimately with His people.

I am convinced that this is more than coincidence. I’ve been led by the Holy Spirit and the scriptures, and the teachings of the early Church Fathers that indeed the Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament and the New is concealed in the Old. They’ve been taught that way since the beginning.

You will find as you study these things objectively, that these teachings are less about who Mary is, and more about who Jesus is.