quod pro nobis traditum est

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Now Blessed in Heaven; on a Marian Feast

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Our eyes are lifted up toward heaven with today’s celebration that Mary, the Mother of Our Lord, is in heaven. Since Jesus was born to save mankind we remember her whom God chose to bring Jesus into the world. The Gospel lesson on the church’s calendar for today brings us Elizabeth’s Spirit-filled announcement to Mary of the blessedness of the fruit of her womb and Mary’s blessedness among women. Elizabeth calls the Blessed Virgin, the “mother of my Lord.” Mary confesses “from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” The Lord has regarded her low estate. He has done great things to her. She who was chosen and blessed to be the Mother of God, blessed to be remembered for all generations on earth, is now blessed to be in eternal glory with God.

Since early on the Church has recognized the importance of remembering and honoring Mary at her birth and then again at her passing from this life to life in heaven, however that passing is understood. As an example for all future generations, she humbly fulfilled the Word of God according to His will. “When the fulness of the time was come” she was made by God to be the means through which God’s Son was sent forth to redeem those under the law. Such that, through her seed, “we might receive the adoption of sons.” Through her seed the enemy’s head is crushed. Although the devil still prowls around seeking whom he may devour he is powerless before the second Adam whose death on the tree conquered forever the power of the devil, and sin and death over us. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Ghost, spoke out with a loud voice to Mary, “Blessed art thou among women, blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”

In Christ, in the miraculous birth of baptism, God sent forth the same Spirit, the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father.” So by God’s Spirit we, who are sinners from birth, are made sons and heirs of God through Christ. Christ is the blessed fruit of Mary’s womb. Through Mary and her blessed fruit we are blessed to be sons of God. We, who are in Christ, become blessed fruit of Mary’s womb. So it is not hard to see how scholars of Holy Scripture make the connection that the Church begins with Mary and her Son is the Church’s Head. St. Augustine said as much in a homily to catechumens on the Creed. He said, “But ye begin to have him for your Father, when you have been born by the church as your Mother.”

By nature we run away from all of these things. Sin cannot comprehend or accept the things of God, let alone the ongoing life of Christ’s Church on earth. When our eyes are lifted up to heaven by God’s Spirit we can see the need for the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church on earth. We need to be nourished and fed, strengthened in our faith, while we are on earth, if we are to join with Mary and all of the saints in the promise of eternal glory. Our eyes are lifted up to heaven only because God has looked mercifully down upon us. His Son was lifted up on the tree that we, and all who believe, might be drawn to Him. Jesus, born of Mary, suffered, died and rose again on the third day. He ascended into heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father governing His Church in heaven and on earth. As we kneel humbly before the Lord He lifts up our eyes to heaven through the precious gifts of His Body and Blood. At the Holy Supper, our sins are forgiven and we are one with the angels and archangels, with the Church in heaven and on earth. With God as our Father in heaven we are sent forth into the world as His sons and with His peace, made possible through His Son.

If Christ is not raised from the dead then we are still lost in our sins. If Mary is not in heaven then we can no longer be called sons of God. Rather the blessing that God bestowed on Mary, and which was recognized and confessed by Elizabeth is the blessedness that is ours in her Son, our Lord and God. He has done mighty and merciful things to Mary and to us through Him. Each week as we participate in the heavenly things of hearing and keeping the Word of God and receiving the Holy Eucharist let us not forget how indeed we are blessed to be part of the life that God gave to mankind through Mary and salvation through Her Son. We learn from her humble example. We receive the blessing of being incorporated into the Church with the promise of being made heirs of God through Christ. We rejoice with the angels and archangels that she is in heaven with her Son and that we live in the same promise by the same Spirit. And we rejoice that we share in the mercy that is on us and on all generations that fear God. We follow Mary and all the saints in confessing, “Holy is His Name.” Amen.

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

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