Hail Mary – the Trinity’s Love Song

Crowned statue of the virgin Mary carrying a child with a diffused vegetation background
Crowned statue of the virgin Mary carrying a child with a diffused vegetation background

The infancy narrative is the foundation for one of the great prayers of the church—the Hail Mary. The words of the first part of the prayer originate in the Trinity itself.  The Trinity’s goal for man has always been to bring them into the circle of Trinitarian love.  Here in the relationship between the Trinity and Mary you see God’s love and the perfect human response to that love. Just as the Song of Songs is a duet between the Bridegroom and the Bride.  At the beginning of the Infancy narrative you see a love duet between the Trinity and Mary.

Annunciation Mary AngelStained Glass Old Basilica Guadalupe Mexi
Annuciation Angel Gabriel Tells Mary She Will Give Birth to Jesus Stained Glass Old Basilica Guadalupe Mexico City Mexico. Also known as Templo Expiatorio a Cristo Rey. Basilica construction was started in 1531, finished in 1709. This basilica is the location where the Virgin Mary appeared to the Meixcan peasant Juan Diego. The old Basilica is where Juan Diego’s original cloak with the picture of the Virgin Mary first appeared.

The angel Gabriel who was sent from God the Father called her, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” Those words are also translated, “Hail, full of grace!”  These are words of love for Mary that originate from the Trinity, spoken to her by an angel. Mary was troubled not knowing why an angel should address her with such honor and to what purpose.  Her heart already belonged to God and her humility made her wary of personal praise. Eve’s pride left her vulnerable when Satan sought her opinion.

Next the angel Gabriel like Abraham’s servant laid out the riches of the Father before her and asked her to be the mother of God the Father’s Son. Gabriel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  Marvelous, marvelous news, but does it remind you a bit of when Satan showed Jesus all the nations of the world that could be his?  Or when the serpent promised Eve equality with God?  Mary’s heart is still ever true to God. If this greatest honor of all time involves her breaking her vow of virginity to God, she wants none of it.  “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?

Mary did not succumb to pride when honored or greed when offered incredible position.  Her relationship with God was paramount.  She was not like Eve at all.

The angel Gabriel responded a third time, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.  And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Here Mary recognized the God she loved.  The same God who made Sarah pregnant has made her cousin Elizabeth pregnant.  The same spirit that overshadowed the Ark of the Covenant and entered the Temple will enter her.  Her vow to God rendering her body sacred to Him will not be violated but be brought to its highest level of sanctity.  Now she believed what was said earlier that the child will be the Messiah who will sit on the throne of his ancestor David.  Now she understands why she was called highly favored.  She gave love’s perfect response to God–perfect submission to His will. “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”

This annunciation event of the Father wooing Mary through Gabriel is remembered in the first lines of the prayer, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.”   The next line of the prayer originated with the Holy Spirit who sang His duet with Mary through Elizabeth.

Antwerp - The Visitation of Virgin Mary to Elizabeth by Francken
ANTWERP, BELGIUM – SEPTEMBER 5, 2013: The Visitation of Virgin Mary to Elizabeth by Frans Francken (1581 – 1642) in Saint Pauls church (Paulskerk)

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting she was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave utterance. “Most blessed are you among women…”  This exclamation recalls the titles given to Judith and Jael the women warriors. “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?”  This reaffirmed that child was the Messiah the one who would take the throne of His father David.  The Holy Spirit through Elizabeth gave her the title that had belonged first to Bathsheba, the queen mother.  “For the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.”  This recalled David’s dance before the Ark of the Covenant when he brought it into Jerusalem.  The Holy Spirit affirmed her as the New Ark of the Covenant and gave her and her son the reception the world should have given them.  “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”  Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah the priest had failed in that and was mute because of it.  Under the Old Covenant, the nation of Israel represented by Zechariah had failed.  Mary was the faithful remnant of Israel, the daughter Zion who responded with faith.

Mary responded in the duet of love with the Holy Spirit. Overwhelmed by the expressions of love and honor given to her by the Holy Spirit through Elizabeth, Mary responded by declaring her nothingness without God.  Any greatness she had was because of what God had done for her. She wanted her very being to magnify God for the world. Gratitude, humility and a desire to glorify God were all blended in her heart’s response.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;

my spirit rejoices in God my savior. 

For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;

behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. 

The Mighty One had done great things for me, and holy is his name.

Mary knew that God had already won a great victory over Satan.  God had called her to be “the woman” who with her son would crush the head of Satan. She responded as Miriam did when God delivered Israel from the Egyptians, as Deborah did when God delivered Israel from Sisera, and as Judith did when God delivered Israel from Holofernes.  She sang a song of victory, but unlike them she sang her victory song in advance of the battle.  This second part of her song of love extolled the might, mercy and faithfulness of God.

Judith Shows the Head of Holofernes

 

His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.

  He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. 

He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. 

The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.

 He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy,

 according to his promise to our fathers,

to Abraham and to his descendants forever. Amen.

In Song of Songs the bride and bridegroom extolled the physical characteristics of their beloved.  Here Mary and the Trinity extol the character and spiritual beauty of each other.  A soul that seeks God alone delights the Lord, the way a bride’s beauty ravishes her bridegroom’s heart. All of this duet between Mary and the Spirit is referenced in the second line of the Hail Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.”

At the center of the prayer is “Jesus”.  He was at the center of her life and devotion.  It was He that made her holy, set apart for God alone. The Father was truly Jesus’ Father. Jesus was truly the Son of God, but Jesus was also truly the son of Mary.  The title Mother of God encapsulates the mystery of the perfect unity of Jesus’ humanity and divinity.  He became our brother in the flesh, so we might become His siblings in the spirit.  He did this through His mother.  The next phrases of the Hail Mary refer to the mystery of Christ’s incarnation.

Holy Mary, Mother of God

The Queen Mothers of the courts of Judah were advocates and intercessors for the people.  If you remember how Bathsheba and Esther had to enter the king’s presence with trembling, and they were their wives, then for an ordinary person to approach the king would be terrifying indeed.  The queen mother was different. She could speak freely to the king and he would listen to her.  People could approach her.

We do not have to fear to approach God because Jesus our brother has sanctified us. But if we were to truly see him as He is, and truly see our sinfulness, we would faint like John in Revelations, or bid Him depart from us because we are sinful men like Peter.  The Holy Spirit led Elizabeth to proclaim that she is “the mother of my Lord” because God wanted her to act as mother not only for her son but for the other members of the Kingdom of God as well.  The Trinity is weaving us into a family with God as our Father, Jesus as our brother, and Mary as our mother.  This honor is encapsulated in the last words of the Hail Mary. Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen

Ruth declares her love for her mother-in-law

Just as Mary was there for Jesus during His suffering on the cross, and she was there for Elizabeth during her labor, I believe that no Christian is alone during their hour as they are born into heaven.  Stephan looked up to heaven and saw Christ in his glory.  Joseph was surrounded by Mary and Jesus when he died.  He is the patron saint of a happy death because of it.  I believe that in a special way Mary is present at the hour of a Christian’s death just as she was at her son’s.

Why would God so honor a human being in this way?  For the same reason God honors us by calling us brother or sister.  The love of God is beyond reason in its generosity towards humanity.  By giving Mary this position Jesus is fulfilling the commandment.

“Honor your father and your mother, that you may have long life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”[1]

For those afraid to pray the Hail Mary lest they offend God, the Trinity should not be offended by us echoing the Spirit’s own words of praise and offering our own Amen to them.  Nor should God be offended in our asking for her prayers.  For Jesus said,

Again, [amen] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.[2]

The Hail Mary is a celebration of the Trinity and celebrates the Incarnation of Jesus.

[1] Ex. 20:12

[2] Matt. 18:19-20

#trcot #Hail Mary #Mary #Trinity #Rosary #tcot

 

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The Miracle of the Incarnation Occurs Every Day at Mass

GRANADA, SPAIN - MAY 29, 2015: The baroque paint of Annunication in Iglesia de San Anton by unknown artist.

If you were to see the miracle of the Incarnation from Jesus’s perspective, You would see Him take His Soul and Divinity and place it within a single ovum in Mary’s body.  That single cell would grow and divide until it came to look like the adult Jesus. All this was accomplished through the Holy Spirit. Does that single cell remind you visually of anything?

The Eucharist!  It is the same miracle, only the physical matter being changed is different. If God could do it with an ovum, He can do it with bread and wine.  Both that first cell and the Eucharist contain the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Both are accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit with the co-operation of mankind.

When the Eucharistic minister stands before you holding the host, he stands in the place of Gabriel.  Both asked, “Will you take the Son of God into your body and let Him dwell there?”

Next time you go to Mass put into practice the lessons of this week so far.  Prepare the soil of your heart so that it is spiritually like the virginal womb, free from sin.  Ponder the ramifications of what God is asking of you. Let your Amen be a “thy will be done.”  Such a seed as the Eucharist planted into the fertile soil of a prepared heart and a willing spirit can change the world.  Receive prayerfully, mindfully, often and over the course of your lifetime.

#Advent #Eucharist #Annunciation

The Overshadowing of Mary –Pentecost

Trinity Stained Glass

After Mary had yielded her will to God, she was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit.  She was then able to conceive the inconceivable. The creature begot the Creator. God became man and dwelt among us! The Holy Spirit is what makes the impossible possible.

After the Ascension, the apostles and disciples were still not spreading the Good News to every corner of the earth.  They lacked both courage and capability. The task was beyond them. Then the Holy Spirit descended upon them, and the Body of Christ was once again formed.  Immediately, the impossible became possible.  They became fearless and acquired language capabilities where anything they preached was understood in all the diverse languages of the multitudes there for the Jewish feast of Pentecost. It was only through the Holy Spirt that the Gospel was spread to the ends of the earth.

The life of a Christian is often filled with trials.  This is by God’s design.  The only way we can accomplish even the smallest of spiritual works is by the Holy Spirit.  We learn to rely on God in situations beyond our control. Sometimes we think that God expects the impossible of us, but what He wants is for us to expect the impossible from Him.

#Mary #Holy Spirit #Pentecost #trcot #tcot

Mary’s Fiat –Jesus’ “Thy Will Be Done”

Annunciation Mary AngelStained Glass Old Basilica Guadalupe Mexi
Annunciation Angel Gabriel Tells Mary She Will Give Birth to Jesus Stained Glass Old Basilica Guadalupe Mexico City Mexico.

Prior to the Annunciation, Mary’s life was a series of small choices for God, but there came a point when He “popped the question”.  God wasn’t asking for small sacrifices and prayers.  He wanted her life, her body and her future.  Any plans she had made would be turned upside down.  There was a chance of death by stoning.  She was faced with the choice, “Do I give God everything, even my life if need be? ”

Mary, like us, could only see so far. Little did she know that a year later she would be a refugee in Egypt after fleeing an unthinkably horrible massacre.  For the saints, the words “they lived happily ever after” have no meaning until their deaths.

Mary also could not know the unspeakable joy of having Love itself dwell within her womb and suckle at her breast, but this she could imagine.  All she did know was that God was offering to her blessings and position beyond anything a mortal could deserve. As a reward, she lived each day in intimate union with the Holy Spirit and the Son of God.

After a lifetime of perfect obedience, the Father popped the question to Jesus. He unlike us, did know exactly what He was being called to give.  He knew all the suffering it would entail and it distressed Him so much He sweat blood.  He had lived in constant union with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Now, He would feel that separation from God in His flesh, although He could never be anything but One in His deity. The Father’s cup held suffering which no other human could withstand.

Jesus also knew intimately all those who would be saved through His sacrifice. For love of us, and the glory set before Him, He endured the Cross.  The weight of all humanity was literally resting on His shoulders.  He like His mother before Him gave His total commitment to the Father.

Many Christians are like Mary before the Annunciation. We lead lives of small sacrifices and prayers to God but we are called to be saints! God will ask us the question.  “Will you bring the light of Christ to the world like Mary?” and “Will you pick up your cross and follow Jesus, to your death if need be?”

We don’t know the unity with God we will experience nor do we know the level of suffering that we will encounter.  What we do know are the promises of Christ and the testimony of the saints who have gone before us.  St. Paul tells us, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with glory that is to be revealed to us”  Jesus compared His suffering to labor pains that while intense are quickly forgotten when the birth comes. He also tells us that He will not leave us orphaned. The Holy Spirit will come to guide us and support us.

God is happy with any small sacrifice or prayer that you give Him, and it will not be without its reward. But God is not satisfied and until you have totally surrendered yourself to Him.

Scriptures referenced: Luke 1, Luke 22:39-46  , Romans 8:18, John 14

#trcot #trot #Advent #Annunciation #Mary

Gabriel and the angels of the Ascension

GRANADA, SPAIN - MAY 29, 2015: The baroque paint of Annunication in Iglesia de San Anton by unknown artist.
GRANADA, SPAIN – MAY 29, 2015: The baroque paint of Annunication in Iglesia de San Anton by unknown artist.

There is a connection between the Archangel Gabriel’s message to Mary before the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry and that of the angels of the Ascension after the end of it.  It goes to the very heart of Advent and our walk as faithful believers.

Gabriel announced that the long-awaited Messiah, the Son of David was here.  The people of the Old Testament had waited for centuries for this wonderful news. Gabriel’s message was summed up by Zephaniah.

“Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! 

The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has cast out your enemies. 

The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear evil no more.

The angels of the Ascension told the apostles: This Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.

Here we have the heart of the Advent.  Christ is here, and He is coming again! We rejoice as New Testament people that Jesus is within us by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Yet, we like those of the Old Testament have waited expectantly for ages for His coming again. Gabriel’s message tells us, our wait is not in vain. The angels of the Ascension spoke truly.  He is coming again!

Scriptures cited: Luke 1: 26-38, Acts 1:6-11, Zephaniah 3:14-15

#trcot #trot #Advent #Annuciation #Ascension #Gabriel