Summary: The self-gift of Mary of Bethany echoes the lifelong gift of Mary of Nazareth, who was associated with Jesus, her Son, in all His mysteries, especially His sacrificial death.

April 6, 2009

Sacramentum Caritatis

Eucharist and the Mother of God

The Blessed Virgin Mary, too, is the servant of the Lord. In fact, her assent to the angelic messenger and her only hymn in Luke proclaim her self-identity: handmaid of the Lord. The contrast between Mary of Bethany, the one who certainly gave her life savings for a single anointing of the Lord, and Judas of Kerioth, for whom any expenditure was too much, helps us see the beautiful devotion of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who would even give up her only Son, her only child, for your salvation and mine.

The Holy Father looks to Mary and the Blessed Eucharist and tells us that though we are all still journeying towards the complete fulfilment of our hope, and that for us the Bread of Life is a wayfarers bread, we also know that God’s gifts to us have found their perfect fulfilment already in the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Our Mother. Mary is assumed body and soul into heaven, and that is our hope, because that is our destiny, the eschatological goal of which the sacrament of the Eucharist enables us even now to have a foretaste.

Mary’s life is a kind of sacrament, in which God comes down to meet his creatures and to involve them in his saving work. All through her life, Mary’s freedom is completely open to God’s will. She was conceived without original sin in virtue of her Son’s redemptive death, and that state of constant grace is revealed. . .in her unconditional acceptance of God’s word. Moment by moment she shows the obedient faith of a daughter of God, not a slave. She lives in complete harmony with His will; she treasures in her heart the words that come to her from God. Like a master artisan, piecing them together like a mosaic, she learns to understand them more deeply. The great spiritual masters teach us that she was “associated with Christ in all His mysteries,” particularly his passion and death. Though suffering herself the anguish of a mother whose Son is being unjustly executed, she lovingly consented to the immolation of the divine victim. And that gift to us became a gift of us, as Jesus said to her on the cross, of John and all the Church: Woman, behold your son; son, behold your mother. So as we take the Body and Blood of the Lord, we also turn to her, who, by her complete fidelity, received Christ’s sacrifice for the whole Church. May she help us, too, accept God’s will without condition.

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