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.”

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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.

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.

Jesus Chooses His Mother: Part II


“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom therewill be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her,”The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also concieved a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God, nothing will be impossible.” And Mary said,” Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.   Luke 1:32-38   

Mary asked, “How can this be…?” She isn’t questioning God’s ability to give her a son, but inquiring as to how. “Since I have no husband,” in the Greek reads “I do not know man” referring to her virginal status. Her concern is not that she is unmarried but that she is a virgin and intending to remain one. She wonders aloud to the angel, how God will bless her with a son and at the same time preserve her virginal purity. Nothing in Gabriel’s announcement should have puzzled her, she was already engaged to Joseph, unless she intended to abstain from ordinary sexual relations even as a married woman. Early Church Fathers like St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Augustine teach, Mary had previously taken a vow of lifelong virginity.

The expression used by the Angel Gabriel “overshadow you” is the same expression used in the Greek version of Exodus 40:35; it describes how the Lord God “overshadowed” the Tabernacle, making it His dwelling place in Israel (episkiasei – to cast a shade upon, envelop in a haze of brilliancy, to invest with preternatural influence, overshadow). This is why many Church Fathers compare her or, type her as the “Ark of the New Covenant.” Within the Ark of the Old Covenant was manna, the rod of Aaron and the tablets of the Law, written by the finger of God. Within Mary was contained, “The Bread from Heaven”, The Great High Priest, and the Word of God made flesh.

Marys response to all this was, “I am the handmaid (servant) of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word.” Mary knew who she was in God’s sight and freely chose to submit to His plan. She is the first great example of faith in Christ in the New Testament. An example we would all do well to follow.

“…let it be to me according to Your word.”

Jesus Chooses His Mother: Part I


In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her he said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.”  Luke 1:26-31

Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.  

The greeting of the angel Gabriel to Mary is of great importance to understand in the context of salvation history. Let’s look at this section of sacred scripture to see how.

First the  Hail” or, as it is also translated “Rejoice” would’ve for Mary, and should for us, call to mind the Old Testament passages that refer to “Daughter Zion” and her “faithful children” rejoicing in the coming Messianic age. For God has chosen to dwell in their midst (Joel 2:23-24; Zeph. 3:14-17; Zech. 9:9).

 

 Chosen to be the virgin mother of the Messiah, Mary is greeted with this word, for she would indeed become the “daughter” who would bring God’s Messiah to the faithful “children”.

Next, the word “full of grace” happens to be one word in the Greek text (kecharitomene) which has a very different expression of the same words Luke uses of Stephen in Acts 6:8 (pleres charitos). Kecharitomene indicates that God has already graced Mary previous to this point, making her a vessel who, has been and is now, filled with the Divine Life.

Different translations such as, “favored one” or “highly favored” are possible but fall short in meaning, because of the special and unique role that Mary accepts at this hinge-point of salvation history. Since God endowed Mary with an abundance of grace, preparing her for this call to divine motherhood, the best translation should be the more exalted one.

This better explains the reaction of Mary after the greeting. But she was greatly troubled at the saying and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.

I mean, look at the text, Gabriel had not mentioned anything to her at this point, of God’s plan for her. So why would she become greatly troubled by the saying and the greeting? It only makes sense in this context.

Again, this is no call to “worship” Mary. Mary calls us to worship her Son, Jesus.

Jesus Gives Us His Mother: Part II


For Adam was formed first, then Eve. Further, Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed.   I Tim. 2: 13-14    

  To understand Mary’s role in salvation history, we must start “in the beginning…”

  

God created male and female in His image. He placed man in the garden with a list of do’s and don’ts. He forms the woman from a rib from the man’s side. Then we read that the woman being deceived by the serpent, took and ate with her husband the forbidden fruit. After the curse of the Fall, Scripture tells us in Gen. 3:20, The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living.  

 

As we’ve always looked to Adam and Eve in perpetuating the physical human existence, the many teachings of the early Church Fathers apply this foreshadowing to Jesus (the New Adam) and Mary (the New Eve) in the spiritual realm.

 

Saint Irenaeus, who was a second-generation disciple of John the Apostle, taught of creation’s recapitulation (recapitulate: to repeat in concise form) in Christ. Building on the image that Saint Paul used of Jesus as the New Adam: “[Jesus] became incarnate and was made man, He recapitulated in Himself the long history of man, summing up and giving us salvation in order that we might receive again in Christ Jesus what we had lost in Adam – that is, the image of God.” He also recognized the place of the New Eve in this process. “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. The knot which the virgin Eve tied by her unbelief, the Virgin Mary opened by her belief.”

 

Saint Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Saint Augustine, Saint John Damascene and Saint Thomas Aquinas are just a few to teach Mary as the New Eve. As the first Eve was the mother of all the living, the New Eve is the Mother of all the truly living.

 

Our Mother looks to lead us to her Son, “the Son of the Most High”, who from the first moment believed what the Angel had told her (making her the first Christian, right) saying, “be it done to me according to your word.”

 

Mary asked questions, she pondered things in her heart but she moved forward in her faith.

 

Her mission (like ours) is a partnership with God in His work of redemption. Her call was to first, give flesh to the Word of God. Our call is to share the word of the Word made flesh.

 

So when we ask our Mother to intercede to her Son for us, we know she will for she loves all those who love her Son. She wants the best for them and prays for us according to the will of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 

 And she will always reply to her children, Do whatever He tells you. John 2:5  

Amen.