Sermons

Summary: Let’s imagine that Mary is a contestant on something like “the Price is Right” or some other TV game show, and the announcer is announcing what she will win when she chooses the correct door.

Feast of Mary, Mother of the Church 2020

Today we heard the familiar stories of the fall of humanity, and the redemption of humanity. The first concerns the first Adam and the first Eve, who disobeyed the Lord and lost original innocence. The second involves the second Adam, Jesus, God and man, and the second Eve, His mother, Mary. On Calvary the Church was born from the opened heart of Our Savior, and there we received our mother with St. John. Today we celebrate, in the wake of Pentecost, Mary, Mother of the Church.

The story we do not hear today, from St. Luke’s Gospel, is the one that ties the two narratives together. It is the also familiar tale of the angel Gabriel coming to Mary, to announce God’s plan to make her the mother of the Messiah. Let me remind you of what the angel declared: “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 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 father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

I’d like to make an analogy here that might help us understand how the Blessed Virgin might have heard the angel’s message if she had been a modern American with some experience with daytime television. You see, she knew the mother of the Messiah would be the mother of the king of Israel, despite the fact that Israel was no longer a kingdom, but a ruled territory of the Roman empire. And in the kingdom of Israel, the mother of the King was the Queen Mother, and sat on a throne next to her royal son.

So let’s imagine that Mary is a contestant on something like “the Price is Right” or some other TV game show, and the announcer is announcing what she will win when she chooses the correct door.

“So, Mary, let me tell you about the incredible prizes that lie behind the right door, and all you need to do is give the right answer: YOU WILL BE MOTHER OF THE MESSIAH. And not only that, THE QUEEN OF ISRAEL. You will have fabulous garments; in fact you will be clothed with the sun. Your every petition will be answered as you wish, and millions will turn to you for aid. You will be called Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Our Lady of Grace, Mother of Mercy, and uncounted other titles. You will rule with your son over a renewed heaven and a renewed earth, renowned for all eternity.

“But if you choose the other door, you will be called Our Lady of Sorrows. Your pregnancy will be marred by the gossip of neighbors until your betrothed, Joseph, takes you into his home. And you will not ever know the joys of the marriage bed, but will remain a virgin. You will not give birth at home or in a great hospital, but in a stable a hundred miles from home. When you are presented in the Temple with your son, a prophet will tell you that seven swords will figuratively pierce your heart, that you will flee with Joseph and your son to Egypt and have to live there as an exile. When your son matures He will have three years of fame and miraculous service, but pursued by many enemies, who eventually will have Him arrested, imprisoned, tortured and crucified. Oh, and you will have to watch Him die, abandoned by everyone except yourself and one of His followers.

“But, Mary, there is more. It does not matter which door you choose. Both of them are marked ‘yes’ as you can see. So you get all these prizes behind both doors when you answer ‘yes.’ If you don’t you get nothing, and will fade from the historical record, and evil will continue to rule the world.”

We all know that Mary said ‘yes’ and got all the pleasures and pains implied by her decision. We rejoice that she was given to us as our mother, the true mother of all the living, in that awful, wonderful moment on Calvary. She is called by all those marvelous titles and more because she says, and challenges us to say, “Behold the servant of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.”

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