Category Archives: Mary

Mary tells all…the Resurrection

My son is alive!!! Jesus is alive! So that’s what He meant by “after three days, I will rise from the dead.”[1][Mk 8:31, 9:31; Mt 17:23, 27:63; Lk 18:33] I saw Him early that Sunday morning. I had been crying, hoping, waiting, and suddenly, there He was. We hugged, and kissed and cried…and hugged. I held Him as close as I had when He was a baby, and again on Friday, when they took Him down from the Cross and laid his lifeless body in my arms…but now He was back…alive!!! I was overjoyed. He was really here. All in white, bright, dazzling white [Lk 9:29], just like the boys described Him on the mountain. But He was also just like Friday, but the wounds were somehow glorious, amazing, wonderful now.

Then, He had to go. I knew everyone was looking for Him. Even when he use to preach and teach, He was always telling the boys: Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. [Mk 1:38]

I asked Him to please see Peter. That poor boy was absolutely devastated; not only had he deserted Jesus when He said He wouldn’t [Mt 26:33,35], not only had he swore he would lay down his life for Him [Jn 13:37]; but then he denied he even knew Him three times, just as Jesus had predicted. [Mk 14:72] Peter’s been inconsolable ever since. Jesus said He knew and would see him after reassuring the other women.

Later, He appeared to the rest of the group. Even though Peter, I, Mary, and the boy’s mothers [Mt 27:56,61;28:1] told them we had seen Jesus, they kept saying the story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe us. [Lk 24:9-11] But then, suddenly, locked doors and all, He was right there and they could see Him and touch Him. I think seeing Him eat in front of them finally convince them He was for real. [Lk 24:36-43]

Of course, dear Thomas, he wasn’t there that Sunday. He refused to be convinced in spite of the fact that all of us told him. Finally, when he saw those glorious holes in my Son’s hands and that gaping gleaming wound in His side, when my Son was right there, standing and talking to him, Thomas was convinced. He even said what I had known all along from Gabriel, from the beginning, from being His mother, that my Son, my Boy, was not only their Jesus; He was also their Lord and their God! [Jn 20:28]

As usual, He is his own Man. He kept telling us that He is in each of us, even the least of these [Mt 25:40-45] Perhaps that’s why sometimes some of us didn’t recognize Him. Even Mary Magdalene who loved Him more than many, even she was fooled early that morning, thinking He was a gardener. Only when He said her name, did she know Him. [Jn 20:15-16]

The most wonderfully humorous appearance was to two of our newcomers. So fervent they were before the crucifixion, and then, when he died, they were completely devastated.[Lk 24:17] Jesus told me about it later. They didn’t recognize Him at all at first; after His Resurrection, He was different somehow…it was as though we needed to adjust our eyes to see Him. They were just so distraught that when my Son, the teaser, pretended not to know what was going on, they lit into Him as if He were a simpleton: Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?[Lk 24:18] Then they poured out their version of who He was, their great expectations of Him, what had happened to Him. They even admitted that they hadn’t believed the women from our group and some of those with us [Lk 24:22,24] that said that He was not in the tomb.

My Son is very patient. He pointed out that they needed to study the Neviʾim[2]: You are slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?[Lk 24:25-26] Well, anyway, after He enlightened them by pointing out where our prophets foretold His suffering, death and resurrection, they wanted Him to stay. So, He joined them for dinner. You must understand that my Son has a unique way of blessing the food. When He did this ritual, they finally recognized Him.

According to those two, He then disappeared. Since He came back, He does that, all of a sudden appear and then equally amazingly disappear. I think He is seeing as many people as possible since He loves them all and knows they all want to see Him. I know once, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once [1Cor 15:6].

Now He is going to leave again. He’s homesick, in a sense. Recently, he’s been saying things like I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father. [Jn 16:28] I guess it’s time for him to return to Him. He said once: I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. [Jn 6:38] He’s done that; he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Now, it’s time that God greatly exalt him. [Phil 2:8-9]

He has been warning us, telling us that he will be leaving from early on[3] but particularly recently at the Passover Supper when He said: My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you….Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?” Jesus answered [him], “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.” [Jn 13:33,36

We thought, after His crucifixion, that perhaps He was referring to persecution and death. But then, He spoke about His Father’s house…in which there were many dwelling places. He said He was going to prepare a place for us: And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where [I] am going you know the way. [Jn 14:3-4]

I recall that He said He had to go in order to send us a helper: I am going to the one who sent me…. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you….When he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. [Jn 16:5,7,13] My Son was a great one for Truth, perhaps because He got questioned so often if what He was saying was the Truth. But, as He himself said of Himself and I knew to be true from the moment I conceived Him, I am the way and the truth and the life.[Jn 14:6]

He made it very clear; He came from the Father…into the world.[Jn16:28a], the same Father, who is the Lord God, the “Most High” to whom Gabriel referred[4], the same Father to whom Jesus referred long ago in the Temple when Joseph and I found Him[5], the Father to whom He constantly referred in His teaching as being the One whose will He was carrying out[6], whose actions He was mirroring on earth[7], whose unconditional love he as here to show us[8], but now, He is leaving the world and going back to the Father. [Jn 16:28b] Even His disciples said, “Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech.[Jn 16:29]

Even though He was leaving us in the world, he was very concerned about our safety and prayed to the Father: And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to youI do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. [Jn 17:11,15]

Then it was time for Him to return to His Father. He stayed with us over a month after His death. In a sense, I think He was of two minds, His human nature wanted to stay, but His divine nature wanted to go. He always ultimately followed His divine nature; that was His lode stone, His unerring compass that always was true, was loving, always what His Father wanted and therefore He wanted. I think that he also realized that by staying, He could only be in one place at a time, with one group of people at a time. And He could not send His Spirit. By going to the Father, He then was able to dispense His Spirit everywhere.

Since His death, we travelled to Galilee and back, and now we’re here in Jerusalem again, in the same place we held the Passover. From here, he lead us out to His favorite place, the Mount of Olives near Bethany,[9] He blessed us as He usually did, reminded us to stay here in Jerusalem until He sent the Spirit[10], and that we were to baptize in the names of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sin[11] and teach everyone to do all that He commanded us.

Then He just went up into the sky until He was covered by a cloud. We were so amazed we just kept watching…and finally two angels appeared there with us and broke the spell and told us that He would come again in the same way…

They say: “Parting is such sweet sorrow,” but for us, for some reason, we were all giddy with joy. He was here. He promised to be with us always. He is coming again. We knew the Son of God, and He proved it himself. We touched Him, held Him, heard Him, ate with Him. And He taught us so much, not only by His words but more often by what He did. Some of our family thought He was mad[12], but He was just being my Son. Headstrong, focused, deliberate,…and yet loving, caring, understanding.

Well, I look forward to living in one of those “dwelling places” He mentioned. But, in the meantime, I have to look after my “new” son, John [Jn 19:26] and, of course, the “boys.” I think Jesus gave me them so I wouldn’t miss Him so much…kinda like caring after Him again, these “least ones.” Besides, I have a feeling that this Spirit Jesus is sending is going to change everything….

To be continued…..

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] The Hebrew Bible is organized into three main sections: the Torah, or “Teaching,” also called the Pentateuch or the “Five Books of Moses”; the Neviʾim, or Prophets; and the Ketuvim, or Writings. It is often referred to as the Tanakh, a word combining the first letter from the names of each of the three main divisions.

[3] I will be with you only a little while longer, and then I will go to the one who sent me. You will look for me but not find [me], and where I am you cannot come. [Jn 7:33-34] I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come. [Jn 8:21] The light will be among you only a little while. Walk while you have the light, so that darkness may not overcome you. [Jn 12:35]. See also OT predictions of his departure: Dt 4:29; Prv 1:28; Is 55:6; Hos 5:6.

[4] Lk 1:28,30,32.

[5] Lk 2:49.

[6] Jn 4:34; 5:30; 14:10, etc.

[7] Jn 5:9; 8:28.

[8] Jn 3:16,17.

[9] Acts 1:12; Lk 24:50.

[10] Lk 24:49.

[11] Mt 28:19; Lk 24:47.

[12] Mk 3:21.

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“One Tough Cookie”: In honor of Mary on Mother’s Day

One of the things that impresses me about Mary is the tremendous chutzpah she exhibits when dealing with God. I have imagined her as this retiring and shy country maiden who has everything done unto her according to God’s will….All her actions starting with explicit faith in God, the outcomes placed with complete trust and hope in God, and the executions humble charity expressing her love of God and her neighbor. And, indeed, this is the case, humble, obedient to God’s will, yes, but also assertive and authoritative. Retiring and shy she is not. She is one tough cookie,

The facts speak for themselves. From the beginning, when we are introduced to her as encountering Gabriel, an Archangel, no less, who stands in the presence of God, she was unphased. Gabriel must be an awesome dude. I mean, angels go through Egypt killing all the firstborn in one night, these are the seven legion guys whom Jesus could have called on in the garden, these are they who carry out God’s orders to slaughter and annihilate the unrighteous right and left in Revelation. Yet, unlike her cousin’s husband, Zacharias, who was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him[1] [Lk 1:12], she is unphased by his sight, but more concerned about what he says; she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. [Lk 1:29]. Gabriel’s Do not be afraid, Mary [Lk 1:30] was probably to calm her being startled, her trying to figure out how this guy got in here, who he was and what he wanted…as anybody would be. But she didn’t try to flee nor crumble with fear; she stood her ground and listened.

Her firm clear grasp of reality is blatantly evident in her question: How can this be, since I am a virgin? [Lk 1:34] In other words, she cuts through the highfalutin prophetical language, picks out the main point: And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus [Lk 1:31] and addresses the issue…”We have a slight problem, as far as I know, I need to have intercourse with a man to be conceive and I am betrothed but not wed, so how can this be?

Her assent to Gabriel and God was not some simple “Ok” or “You’re God, do I really have a choice?” Mary seriously considered the terms of the request and knew the ramifications, i.e.. she would be stigmatized as an adulterous woman, either stoned or outcast from her family and her village, she would bring shame on her family, she would devastate Joseph, and she would be forced to live the life of a single mother trying to support herself and her child…not happy prospects. Yet she weighed her options and assented, not just assented but embraced her role as God’s slave, His servant, she was His handmaid of the Lord. She freely chooses to relinquish control of her life and to hand herself totally over to God. If He wished to “overshadow”[2] her for His own purposes, she trusted Him explicitly. Somehow, some way, this was God’s will for her, her God with whom she had found favor; but she had always lived according to His dictates and she wasn’t going to stop now, even if she couldn’t see her way clear to a happy outcome for herself.

One might have thought that just absorbing the implications of this heavenly visit, let alone this announcement which encapsulated the entire salvific history and prophecy of her people would have been so overwhelming that she would have just walked around in a daze for a while. Not Mary. She had things to do, places to go, people to see! She had picked up on the fact that Elizabeth, her aged cousin was “with child”. To Mary, that implied just one thing: that she needed her help. And so off she goes, no thought of the discomfort, the dust, the distance, let alone, the dangers, the possibility of being captured, raped, sold into slavery. Off she goes…120 miles if she skirted Samaria. At least a five day journey by foot, four by caravan going down to Jerusalem, then cutting across the hill country of Judah.

When Mary arrives, miracles happen: When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “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 believethat what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled. [Lk 1 41-45] John leaps, Elizabeth experiences Pentecost and, kazaam, becomes a prophetess.

One might think that Mary would have been completely dumbfounded, totally taken aback by all this…Instead, Mary, true to form in her handmaid’s role, praises God for all that He has done for her and all who fear Him, the lowly, the hungry, Israel His servant, Abraham and his descendents forever. While exegetes question whether she actually sang this song of praise or whether it was “a Jewish Christian hymn that Luke found appropriate at this point in his story,”[3] it is evident that both Luke and his Inspirer, the Holy Spirit, wished to emphasize that Mary was not just a flighty, little teenager. She had a firm grasp of her heritage. On her journey south, she had time to ponder with the Holy Spirit the implications and ramifications of what had happened to her not just for herself but for her people. So she lays it out for us…”pay attention, this is what is happening!”

When she returns to Nazareth three months later, three months pregnant and showing, Joseph freaks. But what does Mary do? Nothing. No “I’m so ashamed,” no “I’m sorry,” no “Hey, I’m the pregnant one here.”   She has rock-solid faith in God; God started this, and she had faith in God that He would take care of her and her child. Even when she gets the news from Joseph, that since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame,[he had] decided to divorce her quietly, [Mt 1:19] she didn’t flinch.

Not to say that she wasn’t affected. She, like her Son, was human in every way but sin…so she was certainly terribly saddened by the anguish and disappointment of her parents and the reviling by her neighbors, and perhaps prayed to God as her Son did later, My God, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will. [Mt 26:39] And her prayer was answered; Joseph was shown the light; after a visit from another angel, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. [Mt 1:24]

Tune in tomorrow for “One Tough Cookie Continued.” In the meantime, a blessed Mother’s Day to you all.

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] ἐπισκιάζω, to “shadow over,” is the same word used by all the Synoptics to describe the theophanies or “appearance” of the “Most High” at the Baptism and Transfiguration. [Mt 17:5; Mk 9:7; Lk 9:34]

[3] NABRE note on Luke 1:46–55. The note also points to the fact that “a few Old Latin manuscripts identify the speaker of the hymn as Elizabeth, even though the overwhelming textual evidence makes Mary the speaker.”

A Decade a Day, Life Mary’s Way

In my Sept 3, 2014 blog here, “The Father And The Rosary,” I explained the rosary as an act of worship of the Father, each decade being an occurrence that begins with the Father’s will, is known and planned from all eternity, and, after examining it in detail for the length of ten Hail Mary’s, an appropriate vehicle since Mary is human, like us, and, like her, we need time to ponder these treasures in our heart, as they come to a close, we respond to God’s wisdom, power and love by joining with all creation in giving Him Glory, to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Today, I would like to go one step farther and propose that the decade of the rosary may be used as a template for my day. Each day in each of our lives is a day which has been filed from eternity in the providence of God and today is brought out into the light, unveiled for the first time to all creation. Thus, while it may seem to be a “normal” day to me, to the Father it is as sacred and holy as the first day of Creation, the day of the Annunciation, of the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Ascension and Pentecost. Blasphemy? Exaggeration? Spiritual hyperbole…and fantasy, at that?

But consider, this is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.[1] [Ps 118:24] There was never one like it and there never will be another. Some of his children will be born, some will die, some will get married, some will find God,…and all will be given another chance to listen to Him, to do His will, to refuse the apple and to walk in the Garden with Him. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. [2Pet 3:9] God wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. [1Tim 2:4] And today is a gift, another chance.

You protest? This is simply another day, an ordinary day? Well, neither are all the “mysteries” of the Rosary are momentous miracles, e.g. the finding in the Temple, the announcement of the kingdom, and, at least from the perspective of the human condition of Jesus [though such separation of the natures can be dicey] all of the Sorrowful Mysteries. But the Church looks at them as “mysteries.” Why? Because, though they may seem to be “normal” in human terms on the surface, since they involve the Son of God, Jesus, our Christ, there are infinite layers of substrata awaiting our spiritual archeological investigation, exploration and ultimately, adoration.

And the same is true of every day. It is a “hidden” miracle waiting to be revealed, explored, and its Creator, He who has gifted us with this infinitely precious prize, awaits our recognition, our love, our appreciation and our adoration. So looking at today as a “mystery” to unfold in God’s providence is our ultimate reality.

Unfortunately, because it’s a miracle that “hidden in plain sight,” we can allow ourselves to be blind to its beauty, its uniqueness, its overwhelming simplicity. Our nonchalant attitude is because we do not see in the blazing up of the sun, the transfiguration of the Son. We overlook, ignore, or even sometimes recognize but refuse to take into account the miracle of the morrow.

But today, let’s take it into account. Let’s start with the Our Father as our acknowledgement of His control of my life, of the obedience I owe him, of His total and unconditional love of me, of His eternal plans for my greatest happiness. And today, just today, let me hold His name holy, let me work for His Kingdom, let me do His will with the alacrity, joy and enthusiasm that the saints and angels do it in heaven…and, on His part, He will give me today not just daily but eternal Bread from heaven, He will forgive me my sins in the measure with which I measure, and still more will be given to me. [See Mk 4:24]. Just today, I beg Him not to lead me into the desert to be tempted, for I am weak and fickle and easily swayed. But in particular, I pray that He not have me confront Evil, for it rules the kingdoms of the earth until His Son’s second coming.

As we proceed with our day, just as we contemplated the mystery of the Rosary with the murmuring of Hail Marys in the background, so having an ongoing conversation with our heavenly mother is not only a prudent way to keep us heading towards the narrow gate, but is a radar to warn us against incoming temptations, whether of our own making or generated from the evil in God’s wonderful world around us.

Finally, from the perspective of the rosary decade as a template of life, each decade, whether it extend for a literal decade of years, of days, of hours, of minutes, is enclosed, encapsulated by the love and understanding of God who sets it out on its course, His ruah hovers over it intently [Gen 1:2; Jn 3:8] as it wends its way through our life, and brings it to a successful conclusion, for, as we know from the Cross, success in God’s terms may seem like total meaningless failure in human terms. For this reason, at the end of each day, God deserves all credit, honor, praise and glory be given to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning of all Creation, is at this very conclusion of this moment in time, and will continue to be forever and ever. Amen. Alleluia!!!

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.”

The Father and the Rosary

I don’t know about you, but in the back of my mind, I have always wondered why the Rosary is structured the way it is…I mean, it is obviously not random but seems a bit odd…one Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, a Glory be, and the O My Jesus…very odd.

But the Holy Spirit, designer par excellence, of course knew and knew that I wanted to know and the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will. [Rom 8:28] [1] And so, just as in macro Salvation History, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption, [Gal 4:4-5] so when the fullness of time had come, the Holy Spirit let me in on the rationale behind His design.

Just as in Jesus life, everything is centered around the Father, I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me [Jn 6:38], so the Rosary is actually a huge prayer in honor of the Father and the Trinity.

We start out with its sign, the sign of the Cross, doing all in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The Apostles Creed summarizes the workings of the Trinity in Salvation History. Then the initial Our Father acknowledges that all comes from and flows back to the Father. The three Hail Mary’s acknowledge our way to the Father following Mary in her humility who, throughout her life live out her initial Fiat: Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. [Lk 1:38] We break it down a bit so that we can better realize the entire import of her great “Unto.” We ask in humility for faith, for hope, for true charity which is done, not for my glory, but for the Glory of God, a sentiment about which we remind ourselves by reciting the Glory be at then end of the triplet.

And then on to the real stuff: note the five or fifteen or twenty, depending on your rosary, decades are all structured exactly the same way…for a purpose. We start with the Our Father to remind us that the Father is behind, in front of, over and in everything. What is about to be recalled, He planned and knew from eternity, every minute detail was providentially worked out, not for elegance, though it has that, not for magnificence, though it has that, but for me, for you, for each and every human being that ever was, is or will be on the face of this earth and elsewhere. He did it because He loves us and what we are about to witness again in memory is that love written in our history, our nitty-gritty day-to-day on-going history, to remind us that every moment of existence is a moment of Salvation History and we’re a part of it…so let’s get on with it!

The memorial drama then unfolds through the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries, each portraying a selected moment in the life, death and resurrection of the God-Man, Jesus, our Christ. We need the time of 10 Hail Mary’s to explore, examine and appreciate this facet of the jewel of God’s love. We need Mary to remind us that she kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart;[Lk 2:19] that we won’t get it in one or one thousand recitations, but we can keep them and reflect on them forever.

Fittingly, at the end of each decade, we come back up for air, and realize again that all that we have seen, all that we have heard, all that has been done unto us is due to and gives Glory “to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen.”

Finally, following Mary’s request at Fatima, we pray: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy. Amen,” a testimony to the validity of Tradition, of the sensus fidei, of the ongoing care and concern God reveals to us, of the reality of the memories in our life, in the never-ending until eternity drama of Salvation History worked out in me and in you, of the horrific reality of the stakes and of my inability to save myself, and of my constant and critical need to cast myself upon the mercy of the Father, for only by His continual love and forgiveness manifested this day will the rest of the Rosary make any sense. Amen. Alleluia!!!

 [1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.