Friday, March 18, 2011

Why am I Catholic? (Part IV: Mary)

On a personal note, it is very hard for me to be rational when it comes to Mary the mother of God. I must admit that I am overly biased toward her, and completely in love with her that I am not qualified to make a logical argument on her God given role toward humanity. What credibility has a son in defending his mother? Having confessed that, my argument about being Catholic would not be complete without a few words on Mary the mother of Jesus, yet what I begin here is only the start.

I say Mary, because she is the perfect example of a true Christian who says 'yes' to God in how she lived her life. She is rarely mentioned in Holy Scriptures because of her humility, but what is said about her is enough, to those who trust God. Some will say that if she was mentioned more in the Bible that would have given her more credibility. I say not true, for the presence of Christ in the Eucharist is mentioned over and over again and just as at the time of Jesus people refused to believe, today many do the same.

Tell me who recounted to Luke and Matthew the infancy stories? Who was there with Mary when the angel Gabriel called her "full of grace" (Luke 1:28)? Who else heard the Angel Gabriel who “stands before God”(Luke 1:19) tell her: “the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35)? Who heard her reply to the Angel of God: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38)?

Who among us after an encounter with an Angel informing us that we are to be the mother of “the Most High” (Luke 1:32), the mother of the “holy Son of God” (Luke 1:35), would pack and travel to serve an elderly pregnant cousin and her husband, washing their cloths, mopping their floors, cooking and cleaning for them? Why else did you think she went to visit Elizabeth while she herself was pregnant? Did she not receive Christ and immediately took his spirit of service to others. Did he not say later: “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45)?

Did you remember the words of Elizabeth to her while filled with the Holy Spirit: “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:42-45). What did Mary say? “My soul proclaim 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 …” (Luke 1:46-48f)

These are not words simply placed here by Luke to complete a story. They are rather inspired by the Holy Spirit and willed by God to be in our Holy Scriptures so that they may teach us the truth once we humble ourselves to accept it. No one can truly believe how God has elevated Mary and at the same time deny Christ humanity and divinity. Without these words and others like them the early Church would not have been able to call her "the mother of God", and seal the unity of Christ as fully human and fully divine.

No one knew Jesus more than his mother. Who carried the Lord God in her womb for nine months? Who suffered most at his birth? Who suffered most at his death? Are you aware of the suffering of a mother seeing her innocent son brutally killed in front of her own eyes? Who kept him warm and safe? Who nourished him with her milk? Who changed his diaper? Who wiped his tears when he was sad? Who laughed with him when he was being funny? Who taught him how to pray? Who spoke to him about life and suffering and joy as he got older? Who prepared his meals and spoke with him way into the night? Who spent thirty years taking care of him? Who pondered about his life’s mysteries and “kept all these things reflecting on them in her heart” (Luke 2:19; 2:51)?

Who was with him at his first public miracle and who told him his hour has come. (John 2:4)? Which one of us was told by an angel that her son will be "The Son of the Most High, ... and of his kingdom there will be no end" (Luke 1:32-33) only to see him thirty-three years later suffering death on a cross? Who was present both when he was incarnated and when he gave up his soul? Which one of us suffered the most when he was dying on the cross? Which one of us was made the mother of all whom Jesus loved (John 19:26). The answer to all these questions is the new woman Mary, God’s new creation for his Son.
I am well aware that there is only one Triune God and Mary knows that even more than I do. Her role in humanity is to point us to Christ. She brought Christ to Elizabeth, she brought him to Joseph, she brought him to the shepherds and to the Magi, she brought him to Simeon and Anna, she brought him to the teachers in the temple, she brought him to Cana. Today she brings him to us. If our hearts are humbled like hers, the Holy Spirit will overshadow us and give birth to Christ in our heart.

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