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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He was Called Jesus (Part One)

Baptism of Jesus

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Jesus means “God saves”. Jesus was not the first person in the Bible to have that name.  Joshua is spelled the same way in Hebrew.  Joshua’s story is very interesting when compared to Jesus’ life.

Joshua was a loyal aide to Moses. He was sent to reconnoiter the Promised Land with eleven other scouts. Only he and Caleb had the necessary faith in God to encourage the people to enter the Promised Land.  The other ten spies filled the Israelites with fear and doubt about God’s intentions toward them.  As a result, the people refused to enter the Promised Land. So, they were sentenced to 40 years of wandering in the desert. Only Joshua and Caleb were allowed to enter the Promised Land because of their faith.

Moses was also barred from entering the Promised Land because of a small sin that is debated as to what it was exactly.  The underlying reason I believe is that Moses represented the Law and the Old Covenant.  Following it would not be sufficient for entering the Promised Land of heaven.  For entering the physical land the people needed Joshua; for entering the True Promised Land of Heaven we need Jesus.

When it came time for the people to enter the Promised Land, Joshua had the priests bring the Ark of the Covenant into the waters of the Jordan.  When they did this the waters stopped and were backed up as far as the town of Adam.  The people crossed over on dry land just like at the Red Sea.

Centuries later, Jesus stood in that same place with John the Baptist.  John was a direct descendant of Aaron the High Priest.  John baptized Jesus in these same waters and the heavens (the Promised Land) opened. The effect of Christ’s sacrifice had an impact all the way back to Adam, the first sinner.

In Joshua’s day, all of the Israelites had to pass through the Jordan to reach the Promised Land.  Christians enter Heaven through the waters of Baptism.

#trcot #tcot #Jesus #Joshua #Baptism

Referenced Scriptures: Luke2:21, Numbers 13-14, Joshua 3, Luke 3:21-22

Immanuel – God with Us

Traditional orthodox icon of Mother Mary
The Icon a Mother of God (Mary) and child (Jesus Christ)

The Fall not only separated us from God, but God from us.  The Creator and the created lived in harmony in Eden for a time.  Then our first parents chose to walk away from God. They rejected the light and in doing so found themselves in the land of darkness.

The Old Testament is a walk through God’s efforts to reconnect with us, but He was always outside of us.  So God used nature and physical realities to speak to His people of spiritual matters yet to come.  He wrote His law on tablets of stone. His Ark was made of wood and gold.  His people’s spiritual battles played out in flesh and blood.

First, God spoke to one man Abraham, then through Moses, then through His law.  The Tabernacle went from outside the camp to the middle of the camp.  Finally, God’s house, the Temple, was built in the center of Jerusalem.  God was among His people yet still separated by physical barriers because of our sin.  Eventually, the people ended up defiling the Temple with false gods, and God’s spirit left the Temple and the Ark of the Covenant was lost. Our ancestors had fallen again.

Isaiah spoke of the coming of Immanuel which means God with us.  Jesus was God in the flesh.  No longer speaking through plagues and laws written on stone.  Jesus was the Word of God in the flesh and He spoke directly to us.  Mary’s body was the Ark of the Covenant made in flesh.  God was with us, walking among us.  Teaching us directly. Healing us. Delivering us from the Evil One.  But still there was this separation.  Jesus could only sit beside two people at a time.

There was a greater level of intimacy that God desired.  At the Last Supper Jesus spoke of the coming of Holy Spirit.  How we could be one with Him and He with us.  The coming of the Holy Spirit was God within us! God’s word is written on our hearts! St. Paul says that our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. We fight not against flesh and blood  but against spiritual hosts of wickedness!  Now there is no more waiting in the hot son for hours for the hope of catching a glimpse of Jesus.  He dwells within us.  Yet there is still a separation.

Everything in the Bible progresses toward the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, where there will be no more separation.  The “God within us” stage will yield to “Unity with God”. This week we sing “O Come, O Come, Immanuel” but in our hearts and spirits is the Revelations cry, “Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus Come.”

#trcot #tcot #Immanuel #Maranatha

Related scripture: Isaiah 7:14, 1 Cor. 6:19, Eph. 6:12

Joseph – Most Chaste Spouse

Wooden Statue of Saint Joseph
HAACHT, BELGIUM – MAY 30, 2015: Wooden Statue of Saint Joseph in the Church of Haacht, Belgium.

Not many people know why St. Joseph is always shown with a flowering branch in his hand.  It ties into his marriage to Mary, and to a couple of Old Testament stories.

Back when the Israelites were in the desert, a rebellion arose among the people.  They thought that Moses, Aaron and the Levites were lording it over everybody. The other tribes had as much a right to lead and to tend to the Ark of the Covenant as Moses and Erin did.  Everybody was holy!  It led to the earth opening up and swallowing the rebels.

The Lord told Moses to have the princes of all the tribes bring their rods with their names carved on it and place them before the tabernacle.  The next morning Aaron’s rod had not only blossomed but had produced nuts.  This rod was then kept in the Ark of the Covenant as a sign of Aaron’s high priesthood.

There is a traditional story about Mary. When girls who were pledged to the temple approached womanhood they were to be given in marriage.  They could not continue to serve because a woman’s monthly cycle would render her unclean and the priests did not want the Temple to be accidentally defiled.  Mary objected to being married because she said that she had made a vow to God of perpetual virginity. So the priests of the Temple asked the descendants of David if anyone would be willing to be her betrothed protector. A number of men including Joseph agreed and they were asked to give their rods.  Joseph’s rod bloomed and a dove flew from it.  So Joseph became the betrothed of Mary.

This story is found no where in the gospel nor is it necessary to believe it to be true. However, it is interesting that the author was tying Joseph to the protector of the original Ark of the Covenant.  That Ark was considered so sacred to God that even the priests were not allowed to touch it.  There were rings on the side of it through which poles were placed. It was then carried by those poles from place to place.

There came a time during the time of Samuel, when men lost respect for the Ark and it was taken from Israel.  Later it was miraculously returned!  David had his soldiers try to bring it to Jerusalem on an oxcart but it started to tip.  Uzzah reached out his hand to steady it and died because he had touched the Sacred Ark.  David was afraid and said, “How can the Ark of the Lord come to me?” The Ark stayed for three months in the house of Obed-e-dom in the hill country around Jerusalem. The household was blessed, so David thought that it was safe to try again. This time he brought the priests who carried it and offered sacrifices every few steps.  David danced before the Ark and praised God mightily.

Many have compared that scene to Mary visiting the house of Elizabeth and Zechariah in the hill country around Jerusalem for three months.  Elizabeth’s exclamation and John’s reaction also correlated with David’s behavior.

Mary’s body is more sacred than the original Ark because she held the actual member of the Trinity not just symbols of Him. She was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit not just the glory of the Lord. What is sacred to the Lord belongs entirely to Him. To treat something sacred as ordinary would profane it.  Joseph was like Aaron of old–the guardian and protector of the Ark and the Glory of God within.

Jesus’ discourse at the Last Supper was in many ways marital.  I am in you and you are in me. He spoke of oneness with Him.  Joseph and Mary’s marriage can be compared our own walk with Jesus on this earth.  It is close, personal, and with a deep level of unity. Yet, it remains in many ways unconsummated until we reach the glory of heaven and achieve perfect unity with God. When we take within ourselves His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist, it is as close to a marital act with God as we get in this life. Yet, it is a pale shadow of the joys to come in heaven.

#trcot #tcot #Joseph Most Chaste Spouse #Perpetual Virginity #Mary #Ark of the Covenant

Reference scriptures Numbers 16 & 17, 2 Samuel 6, Luke 1:39-56 John 14:20

Was the Visitation Part of God’s Plan to Restore Israel?

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)

What had made Israel a holy nation during the rule of Kings David and Solomon were four things: the Ark of the Covenant, the Temple, the Aaronic priesthood, and the kingly line of David. By the time Jesus was conceived, the Ark of the Covenant had been lost around the time of the Exile, the Temple had been destroyed, rebuilt, and then desecrated by the Greeks and later Pompeii. The high priesthood had become a political appointment and King Herod who wasn’t even Jewish ruled Israel for the Romans.

When the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary, God restored the Ark of the Covenant to Israel.  Instead of the Ten Commandments, Mary held within her the Word of God made flesh.  Instead of manna, she had the Bread of Life, and instead of the Aaron’s rod, she held the Eternal High Priest.

When Mary went to the house of Zechariah, she was visiting the priestly descendants of Aaron.  Both Zechariah and Elizabeth had descended from him.  Then the Holy Spirit fell upon John.  He would fulfill the role of his forefather Aaron by assisting Jesus, the new Moses, in freeing Israel from its slavery to sin.  The Visitation restored the Aaronic priesthood to Israel.

The Nativity restored the kingship of David and the Presentation returned the presence of God to the Temple. Before Jesus was even two months old, He had restored everything to Israel that made it holy.

When Jesus died the high priests had offered up the spotless lamb fulfilling their duties while betraying their God.  They had rejected the Son of David as King over Israel instead naming Caesar as their king.  The temple of Christ’s body was destroyed and the new ark of the covenant was a tomb.

Then came the Resurrection and the tomb was opened. The two angels that had adorned the top of the original one were now real and sitting on either end of the slab.  Their news was that the one you are seeking is not here but has risen from the dead.  The Ark was empty. Now, there are no containers separating us from our God!

Next, Jesus sent Mary Magdalene, not a pure virgin but a redeemed sinner, to the priests of the New Covenant–the Apostles.  The Ascension restored the eternal kingship of the Son of David and Pentecost created the new Temple using believers as living stones.  Jesus restored all things, fulfilled all things, then brought them to their eternal purposes.

#Visitation #Mary #Ark of the Covenant #Ark of the New Covenant #High Priesthood #Temple #trcot #tcot