Thursday, December 1, 2016

Mediating Upon The Blessed Virgin Mary

Christmas time is coming.  Growing up, it was one of my favorite times of the year, where my siblings and I would tease one another, "I know what I got you," and we would play endless guessing game on what we got for one another.  It was a time of laughter, family gathering together, and as I got older, that magic about Christmas became replaced with grumpiness, cynicism, and forgotten that Christmas is more than shopping for gifts for loved ones, volunteerism, and traveling to be with the family.

It is a celebration about one of the greatest gifts ever given to the world, the birth of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  It is at this point I would like to direct my attention to one of the central figures of the Gospels and the Christmas Story, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It is truly tragic that a great number of Christians have moved away from honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary, and insist on making it all about Jesus.  There is no doubt that Jesus will always figure to be the central figure of the story, but this article is mediation upon how God has repeatedly partnered with His creation to participate in His redemption plan.

Ever since God uttered the oracle to Eve:

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.  Genesis 3:15
He set in motion His plan to redeem mankind from the curse of disobedience Eve wrought upon the human race.  It is true that Adam bears the brunt of responsibility for bringing death into the world (Romans 5:12), it is often overlooked that Eve was the initiation of that.  After all, the crafty serpent deceived Eve into eating the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The great saint, St. Irenaeus, in his volumnious Against Heresies built on top of the foundation laid by St. Paul the Apostle.  Recall how St. Paul said that through Adam's disobedience, death entered through the world, Christ came into the world so that God could, through Christ's death, condemn sins, St. Irenaeus gave the Church another pillar of truth to glean from.

That the Lord then was manifestly coming to His own things, and was sustaining them by means of that creation which is supported by Himself, and was making a recapitulation of that disobedience which had occurred in connection with a tree, through the obedience which was [exhibited by Himself when He hung] upon a tree, [the effects] also of that deception being done away with, by which that virgin Eve, who was already espoused to a man, was unhappily misled, --was happily announced, through means of the truth [spoken] by the angel to the Virgin Mary, who was [also espoused] to a man.  For just as the former was led astray by the word of an angel, so that she fled from God when she had transgressed His word; so did the latter, by an angelic communication, receive the glad tidings that she should sustain (portaret) God, being obedient to His word.  And if the former did disobey God, yet the latter was persuaded to be obedient to God, in order that the Virgin Mary might become the patroness (advocata) of the virgin Eve.  And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin, so is it rescued by a virgin; virginal disobedience having been balanced in the opposite scale by virginal obedience.  For the in the same way the sin of the first created man (protoplasti) receives amendment by the correction of the First-begotten, and the coming of the serpent is conquered by the harmlessness of the dove, those bonds being unloosed by which we had been fast bound to death.  Against Heresies (Book V, Chapter 19)
In one knockout punch, St. Irenaeus demonstrated a deeper understanding of how both, Adam and Eve, caused mankind to be under sins, and how it was Mary and Christ who freed mankind from sins.

As the saint was saying, just as both Adam and Eve being yet virgins disobeyed God direct command to not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Mary obeyed the command of God to be the bearer of Christ, and Christ also obeyed God to the point of the cross, even surrendering His life as a ransom to be paid for our sins.

It is why throughout the Church Mary has been given a tremendous amount of honor and praise in order for God the Father to be glorified!  After all, Mary after being given a blessing by her cousin, Elizabeth, turn and praised God, saying, "My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior," Luke 1:46, 47.

Again, throughout the Scriptures, God has often partnered with mankind to fulfill His will in His redemption plan. This is no small matter and shows the power, majestic, and humility of our God.

Furthermore, in the apocalyptic vision, John saw a wonderful sign that demonstrated the highest honor the Virgin Mary received:

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon was under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.  Revelation 12:1, 2
Mary gave birth to the redeemer as in verse 5, "And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne."  The male child is none other than Christ as a fulfillment of Psalm 2:

 "I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD:  He said to Me, 'You are My son, Today I have begotten You.  Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession.  You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them with earthenware.'"

Mary is seen as crowned with twelve stars.  She is given a royal crown and a great honor.  This is no small matter as another vision was given to an ancient figure in the Old Testament.

In Genesis 37, Joseph had two dream, and it is the second dream which is of great interest:

Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, "Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing to me."

Did Joseph not eventually become the second most powerful in the land of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh?  Thus, why should there be a controversy that Mary is the second most powerful, second only to Christ?

If Adam called Eve "because she was the mother of all living," (Genesis 3:22), then it wouldn't be a stretch of imagination to understand that Mary is the Mother of the Church!

Even more important, Mary is also the Mother of God! Let the record shows that Mary is regarded as the Mother of God:

Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!  And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?  Luke 1:41, 42

Since Jesus is God, and Jesus is Mary's Son, therefore, Mary is the Mother of God.  It is not difficult to understand.

Just as another ancient queen was selected by God to protect the Jews while they were in captive in the land of Babylon, God also selected a lowly woman to become the Mother of God, and heaven's queen, to bring forth the Redeemer of the world.  It does not demonstrate that God is impotent to partner with mankind, especially with women, but again, to demonstrate His power, majestic and humility.

No other gods I know that entered the world as a baby, to grow up and experience all there is to be as a human being, and to surrender One's life as a ransom for many.

May we join with Mary in our salutation of Christ, "My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in the God my Savior."

Hail Mary, the Lord is with you!
Blessed are you among women!
Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus!
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of death, amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end!  Amen.