Homily for St. Mary the Virgin August 15
Father Lawrence Bausch
In the name of the one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen
As the first person to receive Christ, St Mary is for all Christians the model of discipleship. We will be looking at ways in which she exemplifies this, remembering as we do that we are a part of the Communion of Saints, the living Body of Christ, and therefore are in relationship with all the saints as we are all in Christ. This has a special relevance as we consider Mary, and this has been recognized throughout the history of the Church.
The most common prayer addressed to Mary, used by Christians since the early church era, is commonly called the Hail Mary. It begins quoting the Archangel Gabriel’s words to her during the Annunciation- “Hail (Mary), full of grace, the Lord is with thee (Luke 1:28)”. This is followed by the word of Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, during the Visitation- “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb (Jesus) (Luke 1:42)”. The prayer concludes with a petition, “Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen”.
As we have seen before, we often ask people to pray for us who understand us, and who can relate to our struggles with which we need help. When we ask Mary to pray for us, Scripture tells us that she is the ideal disciple. Therefore, it is regarding our discipleship that she may best help us. We will look at 4 aspects of discipleship with which we may need help.
First, Mary embodied humility and surrender to God’s will. Her response to the Archangel after his strange request was the ideal response: “Behold I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word (Luke 1:38)”. How often are we so completely available to what comes to us as God’s clear will? Could the struggle we face be any more difficult than what was asked of her?
Second, Mary was fearless in receiving Christ completely, overlooking the hint of scandal, the ridicule, the misunderstanding of friends and family? This courage is a further expression of trust in God, another virtue necessary for a disciple. Do we need an influx of this courage as we seek to be faithful in a frequently hostile environment?
Third, Mary was thoughtful and prayerful. Several times she is shown to reflect on God’s will and call by “pondering in her heart (cf. Luke 2:19, 51)”. The obedience called for in a disciple is not intended to be mere compliance but also as an opportunity to learn more about the God who has called us, and about his purposes. How regularly do we ponder, reflect upon, and prayerfully open ourselves up to grow in the knowledge and love of God? He calls his disciples not merely into service but into relationship.
Fourth, Mary was committed to sharing Christ with others, not keeping him to herself. She always let him go in trust, even when it led to his suffering and death. Are we willing to share Christ’s love with others, trusting in the power of his love even when it is outwardly rejected? Like Mary, we are challenged to continue to openly share him, even when the result appears to be failure.
The history of Jesus in the Gospels continues to inform our discipleship today- through the Cross of Christ we gain the Crown of Eternal Life. Our celebration of Mary’s elevation to God’s presence today provides an opportunity for us to renew our discipleship, trusting that God may well choose to assist us through his saints, among whom Mary is Queen.
O God, you have taken to yourself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of your incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen