The Honor of Our Lady

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 

27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 

28 And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ 

29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 

30 The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 

31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.

 

32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 

33 He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ 

34 Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ 

35 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 holy; he will be called Son of God. 

36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 

37 For nothing will be impossible with God.’ 

38 Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her. (Luke 1: 26-38)

This passage from Luke’s Gospel is very important in terms of Our Lady. It is central and the most prominent Scripture passage in terms of Our Lady. You might call it her “claim to fame.” The great renown Our Lady has in the history of salvation, among Catholics and, indeed, among all Christians, centers around this particular passage because here is revealed Our Lady’s attitude toward God. It summaries her whole spirit, which, of course, is the Christian spirit. Our Lord Himself pointed out what the spirit of His followers should be. One day a lady in the crowd praised Our Lord with a Hebrew-ism. She said, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts that fed You.” She wasn’t really praising Our Lady. She was praising Our Lord. She was saying, “How wonderful it must have been to have You as a son! What a lucky mother You have!” She was praising Our Lord. In an indirect, Jewish way it was a praise of the mother, but her statement was really a praise of the Son. It’s like saying, “How lucky that mother is to have someone like you!”

Our Lord answered that lady by deflecting praise away from Himself. Our Lord was showing His humility. He was spontaneously responding to the woman by saying, “No,

blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.” “Don’t spend time praising Me. Those who are to be praised are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” Of course, Our Lord, more than anyone else and more than anyone else ever will or ever could—Our Lord heard the word of God and kept it. He IS the Word of God! But, in His humanity, He heard that word and kept it.

Now, what does it mean to “hear the word of God and keep it”? Well, we might say, “It means to be obedient to God. It means to do God’s Will.” We pray that every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer. We pray, “Your Will be done, Your Kingdom come.” “Your Kingdom come” means the same thing as “Your Will be done.” St. Luke in his Gospel version of the Lord’s Prayer, doesn’t even have “Your Will be done.

“ He only has “Your Kingdom come.” That is enough. St. Matthew adds, “Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That is the same thing as saying “Your Kingdom come.” We are saying, “May we be obedient to You. May we consider You to be our guide. May we follow Your direction.” Whether we really mean it is another question. “May Your Kingdom come. May Your Will be done.” Lord, may YOU be the boss, not me. May YOUR Will be done,  not mine.

Whether we really mean that is another question. It is going to take me a lifetime to really mean it. It takes most of us a lifetime to really mean, “May YOUR Will be done.” In fact, once somebody asked me to pray for someone who was sick, and I said, “Oh, I will pray for their intention.

May God’s Will be done.” The person said, “Oh, no, don’t pray for that! Pray that my mother will get better!” And that attitude is very often our own. When we pray, “God’s Will be done,” we pray it very quietly. We say, “God, Your Will be done, but I hope it’s mine.” We think that saying a prayer is like wishing on a star! We say, when our prayer doesn’t come true, that God didn’t hear us. Oh, no. He heard you all right. But it wasn’t His Will.

 The attitude of Our Lady was very much akin to the attitude of Our Lord Jesus. Mary was a good Christian, a good follower of the Lord Jesus. She shows here, at the Annunciation, that she really wanted to do God’s Will. She really put herself aside and really wanted HIS Will to be done. She said that to the angel. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.” That is, the servant of the Lord. “May it be done to me according to your word.” There is a very common expression today where people say, “Whatever.” Our Lady basically said, “Whatever. Whatever God wants is fine.” That attitude is her claim to fame. That attitude is what sets Our Lady apart.

 The Feast of the Queenship of Our Lady is, in Christian terms, ironic. In a certain sense, Our Lady would shy away from this feast. I am sure that she appreciates whatever tribute we apply to her. But Our Lady was humble. She was like Our Lord. Remember one time the apostles were arguing among themselves about who among them was the greatest. This was about the same time that James and John bribed their mother to ask Jesus to give them the first places in His Kingdom. They wanted to make sure that they had the places of honor in the Kingdom, that they might be among the top authorities in the Kingdom. Our Lord corrected the disciples by saying, “I Myself have not come to be served. I have come to serve. The Son of Man has come to serve.” That is the attitude of Our Lady. “I am the  servant of the Lord. I am in God’s service.

 

I am not interested in being the boss. I’m the servant of God. I am satisfied with what God is going to do, and, after that, I don’t want any adulation for it.” Our Lord expressed this attitude one time when He said, “After you have done ALL that you were supposed to do and all that I have asked you to do, you should say, ‘I am a worthless servant. I have only done what I was supposed to do.’” We want to say “Look at all I’ve done. I deserve something. I deserve a reward, a little respect, some recognition.” Our Lord didn’t want any of us to say that. He wanted all of us to be happy to serve God. It should be enough for us. We shouldn’t look for anything else. That was Our Lady’s attitude.

If we are to focus on anything about Our Lady, it should be this great desire to be God’s servant, to do His Will, to have this humble attitude. To be of service to God. Our Lord Himself thought that there was nothing better in this world than to be at God’s service. It is so true. There is NOTHING in this world that is better than to do God’s Will, to be in God’s service. If there is any reason that Our Lady is honored, that is the reason why. All she wanted was to be of service to God.

 --Father John of the Trinity, Erem TOCarm, Queenship of Mary, 22 August 2007

© 2016 by The Confraternity of Penitents, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN USA 46803   www.penitents.org

 

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