This reflection is taken from the Sunday Mass Readings of Nov. 16, 2014:
Even though Mary is not actually mentioned once in today’s readings, I can see quite a few things in them that pertain to her.
In the first reading, we hear that “The woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” This is certainly attributable to Mary; were it not for her consent, Our Lord would not have been born, and salvation may have been thwarted. Seeing how fearful the idea of such an unexpected, important pregnancy like Mary’s would be, she obviously “feared” (respected) God a lot to place her faith in Him at such a time. “She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.” A biblical example of Mary doing this can be seen in her visit to Elizabeth when she was expecting John the Baptist, even though Mary herself was also pregnant. The Book of Proverbs says of such a woman in today’s reading, “Give her a reward for her labors.” God has certainly followed His own advice.
Mary, the New Eve, is sinless. It was necessary, for justice’s sake, for a sinless woman to aid a sinless man in salvation–just as a woman assisted a man in committing Original Sin. (Additionally, she was marked as eternally holy by the fact that she was to conceive Jesus; it is said that, through this, Jesus preserved His Mother from Original Sin in the first place.) Jesus, in His part, made atonement for Adam; Mary, in her part, made atonement for Eve. In order to fully do this, however, Mary had to pass the test that Eve failed. For Eve herself was also created sinless, but she fell.
Jesus’s ultimate sacrifice made reparation for the sin of Adam. It was the only offering that could. Jesus’s human nature can essentially be said to have been “conceived without sin,” as was Adam; but Jesus resisted the temptation of the Devil, as Adam did not (see Mt 4:1-11). Jesus made atonement for Adam, but Adam still had a partner in crime.
Eve was also created without Original Sin. Therefore, someone–namely, Mary–should, in accordance with God’s perfect plan, individually make up for Eve’s part in the fall of mankind. Mary herself does not–cannot–redeem mankind; but in the same way, Eve on her own did not cause the fall of all mankind. She couldn’t; she wasn’t the head of humanity. That was Adam, as I believe Scott Hahn called him (and is now Jesus, the New Adam).
Look at the reasoning: Jesus, through His Passion, makes up for man’s part in Original sin–the main part, the sin itself; whereas Mary was an instrument in salvation just as a woman was originally an instrument in humanity’s fall. Remember that it was Eve who was persuaded by Satan to eat the forbidden fruit. God perfectly counteracts Original Sin by eradicating it in exactly the same way that it came about: in a man, through a woman. (Scott Hahn, on page 514 of his book _Understanding the Scriptures: A Complete Course on Bible Study_, discusses Jesus and Mary’s counteracting of Adam and Eve’s evil as the “the undoing of sin itself.”)
In the parable of the talents given in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us: “To one [the man] gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–each according to his ability.” Later on in the parable, we see the results. The master rewards his servants, not based on what they were given, but on what they did with what they were given. The final servant was not condemned because he had little, but because he didn’t do anything with what little he had. The others were both actually accorded the same thing, based on the fact that they did as well as they could, considering the talents given them and their ability to use them.
God endows everyone with certain capabilities; but the “talent” of being able to go through life completely free from sin, from conception to death, is on an entirely higher level than any other. God obviously has big plans for someone whom he allows to be conceived without Original Sin. If people with ordinary “talents” are given “great responsibility,” as the parable says, then what “greater responsibility” is to be given to such a person as the sinless Spouse of the Holy Spirit and Mother of Jesus Christ?
One answer is given in the Gospel of John: “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘behold your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:27). Now John often refers to himself in his Gospel as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” In this case, however, the title could technically apply to any “disciple whom Jesus loved.”* Bestowed upon us by Jesus Himself, Mary really is meant to be the Mother of all of Jesus’s beloved disciples (which would be all of His disciples). We are meant to follow John’s example, accepting Mary as our Mother and welcoming her under the roofs of our beings–in other words, welcoming her into our hearts.
Many Christians do not understand Mary. They are wary of giving her the respect she is due, fearing that it will take away from God Himself; but nothing is further from the truth. Does a king wish to see his wife–his queen–disrespected? No, of course not. If one of his children were to disrespect the queen (the child’s mother), the child would likely be reprimanded. And Mary is so much more to God than is an ordinary queen to an ordinary king. She is His helper in salvation and is holier than any other human being. Having been allotted such an extraordinary role in His plan of salvation, there is no reason to believe that her job would end the moment she was assumed–body and soul–into Heaven.
“Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine, in the recesses of your home.” God’s words through the Psalmist are certainly proving true for the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Through her perfect example of faith and morals, and her incredible apparitions and miracles, the Queen of the Apostles has certainly been using–in both her worldly life and her Heavenly life–her excellence, power, and goodness (the three aspects of Mary’s virtues represented in the “Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin” prayer) for the furthering of God’s will. Mary’s sole role–and only goal–is to further Our Lord’s plan for salvation.
“Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate” (Mt 19:6). In the same way that man must not try to separate a bride from her husband, he should never try to diminish the importance of the union of Mary and the Holy Spirit.
Today as much as ever, we need to give our Blessed Mother the reverence she is due, and accept the hand she is offering us to lead us closer to her Son; in other words, we need to let her bring us to Him, just as she brought Him to us. A good way to do this is by following Jesus’s own command: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” We need to keep in mind the special love He showed to Mary, in humbling Himself to allow her to raise Him from a child, so that we can better imitate Him by letting her do the same for us. We should always strive to view all things as God views them, and to love all people as God loves them. Mary is no exception.
Blessed be the Great Mother of God, Mary Most Holy!
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
by Cameron Daly
*At the time I wrote this, I’m not entirely sure if I came to that conclusion on my own (I may have, but in retrospect, I want to make sure I didn’t commit plagiarism), or if I derived it from Tim Staples’s book Behold Your Mother, where he points out that “‘the beloved disciple’ stands in for all Christians.”