UNBORN WORD of the day


MARY & 2 CONTEMPORARY EVANGELICAL QUESTIONS
May 29, 2014, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Incarnation, Mary

VERKÜNDIGUNG UND HEIMSUCHUNG MARIENS Ludwigshafen

The Annunciation and Visitation of Mary

Altarflügel mit der Verkündigung und der Heimsuchung

 

  1. HAVE YOU GIVEN YOUR HEART TO JESUS?
  2. HAVE YOU ACCEPTED JESUS CHRIST AS YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR?

Many Christians consider these to be important questions concerning one’s relationship withGod. Baptism – according to the instruction of Jesus and the practice of both the early and contemporary Church –establishes a solid relationship with God. But when Mary first encountered Jesus Christ, there was no Christian baptism. Also, the Church’s teaching about Mary’s Immaculate Conception, while perhaps implied in the Gospel is not explicitly demonstrated there. So let’s look simply at the Gospel and what it tells us about Mary and these 2 questions.

  1.  Have you given your heart to Jesus?

According to the Gospel of Luke, Mary had a wonderful deep relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. When the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary he stated that she was “full of grace”, that “the Lord is with you” and that she had “found favor with God” (Lk 1:28,30). A threefold acknowledgement of Mary’s profound and faithful relationship to God. Gabriel then outlines for her the role Almighty God wants her to accept in the great Incarnation Mission of His Son. Her fiat“Let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38) – invites God into human history; immediately thereafter Christ is conceived in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. The early Church Fathers were so impressed by this definitive openness of Mary to the will of God that they would say that Mary conceived Christ in her mind and heart before she conceived Him in her womb. Hence, going back to the above question – Mary was the First person to give her heart to Jesus

2.   Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

Mary answers this question at the event we call The Visitation (celebrated on May 31st), where she visits her cousin Elizabeth (and unborn John the Baptist….and Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah). First, we see that Elizabeth is “filled with the Holy Spirit” and blesses Mary for her great faith. Then Mary responds with her famous Magnificat, which begins with the words:

 “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” (KJV translation)

 Note the two words; Lord & Savior! Mary had already accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior – according to Scripture – about a week after Unborn Jesus had been conceived in her womb (if not earlier)! Again, Mary is the First person to accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior!

Of course this wondrous relationship between Mary and her Son would continue to unfold and strengthen. She gave birth to Him (Lk 2:1-20), she flees to Egypt to protect Him from persecution (Mt 2:13-15), she raises Him with tender love, she encourages Him to perform His first miracle sign (Jn 2:1-12), she even stands at the foot of the cross as our Lord and Savior dies for us (Jn 19:25), Her Son entrusts His disciples to her maternal care from the Cross Jn 19:26-27), and she is with the early Church – praying – on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:12-15).

No wonder then, that Mary is recognized not only as the First Believer to believe in Jesus, but also as the First Christian to love Jesus.



Beautiful in the womb

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VIRGIN MARY “OF THE SIGN”, 15TH CENTURY, MEZQUITA CATHEDRAL, ANDALUSIA CORDOBA, SPAIN

In his Apostolic Exhortaion entitled Vita Consecrata (March 25, 1996) John Paul II has a thought provoking quote from St. Augustine:

“Beautiful is God, the Word with God … He is beautiful in heaven, beautiful on earth; beautiful in the womb, beautiful in his parents’ arms, beautiful in his miracles, beautiful in his sufferings; beautiful in inviting to life, beautiful in not worrying about death, beautiful in giving up his life and beautiful in taking it up again; he is beautiful on the Cross, beautiful in the tomb, beautiful in heaven. Listen to the song with understanding, and let not the weakness of the flesh distract your eyes from the splendour of his beauty.” #24



LUKE REVEALS MARY’S INNER REACTION TO THE BIRTH OF JESUS & A CHILDHOOD EVENT

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In the second chapter of Luke we are told on four different occasions how Mary (and Joseph) react and feel about words and events surrounding the birth, infancy and childhood of Jesus. Luke thus introduces us to the overlapping and harmonizing psychology and spirituality of Mary (and Joseph). This is instructive for the modern everyday Christian.

The angels appear to poor uneducated shepherds and entrust to them a proclamation for the entire world, for all time. The shepherds go down the hill and find the manger, and start recounting the words spoken to them about this Child; “all who heard it wondered”. Then the next verse, “But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart (Lk 2.19).

Eight days later, Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the Temple. The holy man Simeon is inspired by the Holy Spirit to go to the Temple and speak to them about the Child. Luke specifically tells us that Joseph and Mary “marveled at what was said about him (the Child)” (Lk 2.33).

About twelve years later, Mary and Joseph bring the boy Jesus to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. Jesus becomes separated from them, and His parents seek “anxiously” for Him. After three days they find Him in the Temple and He was questioning and listening to the teachers. “All who heard him were amazed”. Luke then specifically says about Joseph and Mary; “And when they saw him they were astonished” (Lk 2.48).

Luke continues to recount this story about the finding of the boy Jesus in the Temple, advises that they all returned to Nazareth and Jesus was obedient to His parents, then this; “…and Mary kept all these things in her heart” (Lk 2.51).

In the 2nd chapter of Luke’s Gospel we are given a glimpse into the spiritual and devotional life of Mary. (This follows up on the 1st chapter presentation of Mary’s Magnificat, which similarly offers a window into the soul of Mary.)

In the Manger and in Nazareth Mary ponders, contemplates in the depths of her heart. In the Temple Mary is awestruck; marveling with astonishment. Mary interiorizes the remarkable truths and teachings about Jesus Christ, she will learn from them, grow in them, mature through them.

Mary lives the Gospel events as no other could, as no other did. As John Paul II says of her, she is the “memory” of the Church, and indeed she will share these events and meanings with the Church in due course.

The Litany in Honor of Mary the First Christian summarizes the scriptural recounting of the numerous Gospel events lived and uniquely experienced by Mary in her lifelong relationship with her most beloved Son Jesus Christ. mary-fst-eng-fr-large

Click here to order a free copy of Litany.



JESUS AND HIS MOTHER HAD 3 CONVERSATIONS RECORDED IN THE GOSPELS
October 7, 2012, 7:11 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Mary

Jesus among the Doctors – Duccio di Buoninsegna

When Jesus was 12 years old he and His parents went to Jerusalem for Passover. When they began their return trip to Nazareth Jesus and His parents became separated. Finally Mary and Joseph found Him in the temple; “they were astonished; and his mother said to him…”

1st Conversation (Luke 2.48-51)

Mary: “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.”

Jesus: “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Mary was distraught. But Jesus had the last word in this brief exchange. Then they left together; “And he went down with them…” Apparently they both took the conversation to heart: Jesus “was obedient to them”, and “his mother kept all these things in her heart.”

Wedding at Cana – Duccio di Buoninsegna

About 18 years later at the outset of our Lord’s public ministry they had another conversation in Cana at a wedding feast. The account starts out; “On the third day….” This is interesting because the prior conversation considered above was introduced as follows: “After three days they found him…” The wedding feast becomes remarkable because they ran out of wine, and the conversation is initiated out of concern for the newly married couple.

2nd Conversation (John 2.3-8)

Mary: “They have no wine.”

Jesus: “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”

Did Mary learn a lesson from the last conversation? She now limits herself to a mere four words. Jesus calls her “woman”; the same title that Eve was given by Adam (Gen 2.23). And again Jesus gets the last word. Or does He? They now both turn away from each other and address the servants (who represent the Church)….

Mary: “Do whatever he tells you.”

Jesus: “Fill the jars with water…..Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast.”

Remember those later miracles when Jesus instructs individuals to go to the Priest so that the healing can be officially ‘verified’? Similarly, Jesus sends the servants to the steward, and as John points out, this was “the first of his signs”. Apparently, His hour had arrived – it coincided with a marriage ceremony and prefigured His own relationship to His Bride, the Church. With four words Mary becomes a match-maker. And once again, mother and son leave together; “After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and…..” He is going out on His own, with His disciples, but we see Mary and Jesus in sync, working together, in unison.

All three conversations are associated with a feast day celebration; the first and third with Passover. When Jesus is on the cross, He sees His mother and ‘the disciple whom he loved’ standing near. This time, Mary – who is again distraught – is actually silent, but we might say that figuratively – or rather mystically – she “speaks” to her son from her heart….. perhaps through her eyes…. The scene unfolds with our Lord’s eyes, or gaze; “When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother……”

3rd Conversation (Jn 19.26-27)

Mary: …………..

Jesus: “Woman, behold, your son!”

Jesus again calls her “woman”; this time it certainly seems to be like a title, because it takes on the semblance of a “last will and testament”. And Jesus has the last word. From the cross, now close to death, He draws the Church into His personal conversation with His mother. “Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’” In their ‘2nd conversation’ it was Mary who drew the Church into the conversation with her son. This time Jesus draws the Church into the conversation. The account ends with these words: “And from that hour the disciple took her (Mary) to his own home.” So Mary (“woman”) becomes Mother to the Church, as Eve (“woman”) was “the mother of all living” (Gen 3.20).

Jesus dies, and according to tradition, He is placed in His mother’s arms, so once again they ‘leave’ together at the conclusion of the conversation. Unlike the prior two conversations, that were preceded by ‘three days’, this conversation signals the beginning of the ‘three days’ until His resurrection.

But in a way, Christ’s entire life was like an intimate conversation with humanity: “And the Word became flesh…” within Mary’s womb. As the Word of God, Jesus Christ had been conversing with His Mother from that very first day, and their conversation continues even now, and as the Church, we too are invited to join in – through prayer and love – as servants, as beloved disciples. We are especially invited to join in the ‘dialogue of the Church with her Lord’ in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass which recalls Passover, and in all the other sacraments such as Holy Matrimony.



AUGUST 22 – THE QUEENSHIP OF MARY FEAST DAY
August 25, 2012, 9:45 am
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Evangelium Vitae, Mary

Maria Gravida

For me personally, The Queenship of Mary is one of my favorite feast days of the 365 day Liturgical Year. I also like watching the Olympics. Let me explain.

Greece is the birthplace of the Olympics. Their origins go back before the time of Christ, and St. Paul, an educated Roman citizen knew that. So when Paul was writing to the Greek Christians in Corinth about the challenge of Christian living he felt it appropriate to speak about athletic competition:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly… (I Cor 9.24-26)

Years later, near the end of his life in a letter to Timothy, he stays with his athletic analogy, but the wreath is now a crown, and there is no longer just one winner:

“An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules…… I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” ( II Tim 2.5, 4.7-8) Who loved the Lord’s “appearing” more than his mother? Like Paul she “fought the good fight…finished the race…kept the faith”!

The early Church knew very well that the Christian faith was demanding:

“Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…” (Heb 12.1)

“Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1.12)

“And when the chief Shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory.” (I Pet 5.4)

The crown awaiting each Christian is “imperishable”, a “crown of righteousness”, a “crown of life”, an “unfading crown of glory”. Mary’s crown is all this and more: “a crown of twelve stars…” (Rev 12.1). A tradition of Saints and scholars (including John Paul II; The Gospel of Life, #104) tells us it is Mary who is crowned in Revelations 12.

But every Christian crown will be gained by virtue of the Kingship of Jesus Christ. “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” the three wise men asked? What charge did Pilate bring against Jesus and have inscribed on the cross? “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.” The archangel Gabriel spoke to Mary about the kingship of her son. In the Book of Revelations we find references to Christ as King, and to His reign. Many Christians mistakenly think that Jesus is a king only in a symbolic sense, since he is not a political figure and we have evolved beyond monarchies. The Kingship of Jesus Christ is a spiritual truth which enlightens, a wonderful reality which we will enjoy in heaven.

We know a Queen through her ancestry and relationships, and we recognize her by her crown. As the Mother of Jesus Christ, Mary comes to her queenship supernaturally by the Will of God; as Mother. The “race” she ran is unparalleled in all human experience, and she excelled in every respect. For a succinct biblical presentation of her life see; Litany in Honor of Mary the First Christian.



HOW ARE WE TO HONOR UNBORN JESUS (AND ALL UNBORN BABIES MADE IN HIS IMAGE AND LIKENESS)? – CONSIDER THE MAGI

The Vision of the Magi oil on panel, Rogier van der Weyden 1399/1400 – 1464

The 3 wise men honored Unborn Jesus from afar by seeking Him and searching for Him, passionately and diligently, and by rejoicing in anticipation (Mt 2:1-10).

“Why did the Magi set off from afar to go to Bethlehem? The answer has to do with the mystery of the “star” which they saw “in the East” and which they recognized as the star of the “King of the Jews”, that is to say, the sign of the birth of the Messiah (cf. Mt 2: 2).” Pope Benedict XVI, Friday, 19 August 2005

“What amazes us each time when we listen to these words of the Magi is that they prostrated themselves before a simple baby in his mother’s arms, not in the setting of a royal palace but, on the contrary, in the poverty of a stable in Bethlehem (cf. Mt 2: 11).” Pope Benedict XVI, Saturday, 6 January 2007

Like the Magi, let us recognize that Christ came into the world as an unborn baby and a child.  The Vatican Council in Gaudium et Spes points out  “For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man”.  We honor our unborn and child King when we teach respect for each unborn child and pregnant mother by our example. As they fell down and worshipped – we should approach these little ones and their mothers with awe and respect no matter where we find them. As they offered gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ child, we should offer our love, support, and financial assistance as needed.



HOW ARE WE TO HONOR UNBORN JESUS (AND ALL UNBORN BABIES MADE IN HIS IMAGE AND LIKENESS)? – CONSIDER ELIZABETH AND ZECHARIAH

Mary in the House of Elizabeth , Robert Anning Bell 1863-1933

Elizabeth honored Unborn Jesus by recognizing Him and then blessing Him and His mother (Lk 1:42-43,45). Zechariah honored Unborn Jesus by blessing Him, testifying to Him and rejoicing in His mission of Salvation (Lk 1:67-79). Elizabeth & Zechariah together honored Unborn Jesus by welcoming Him and His mother into their home for three months (Lk 1:56).

 “…We know nothing of what went on during those three months, but we may presume that things continued as they began. It is not likely that Elizabeth said her ‘Ave’ only once, and only once spoke of the honour she considered it to have the Mother of God in her house…. ”

“…And we must not forget the head of the household, Zachary. He, at any rate after the birth of his son, knew the secret too, for he spoke in his song of praise of the “Orient from on High (which) hath visited us.” (St Luke i. 78.) He had been ‘unable to speak,’ but Mary with her Son had been sojourning in his house, with the result that his doubts had all disappeared, and that he under stood already something of the ‘joy and gladness’ which Gabriel had promised should be his…”

From Mater Christi : meditations on Our Lady (1920). Mother St. Paul

We like Elizabeth and Zechariah should welcome Unborn Jesus with joy and faith – opening our hearts to the graces he wishes to give us. Our attitude towards all mothers and their unborn babies should also be open and joyous – we should welcome them into our lives and help them in their needs.

Mary in the House of Elizabeth , Robert Anning Bell 1863-1933



The Archangel Gabriel – HOW ARE WE TO HONOR UNBORN JESUS (AND ALL UNBORN BABIES MADE IN HIS IMAGE AND LIKENESS)?

The Annunciation by Nicolas Poussin

How did the Archangel Gabriel honor unborn Jesus:

The Archangel Gabriel honors Unborn Jesus through the profound reverence with which he announces His entrance into the world (Lk 1:5-17, 26-38).

Gabriel was sent to a nobody, who had next to nothing, and who lived in the middle of nowhere. Or so it would seem. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” Why would an angel show such reverence towards a human being? Why would Gabriel, whom the bible tells us stands “in the presence of God” (Lk.1:19), speak in this way? He himself answers the question: because she had “found favor with God” (Lk.1:30).

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He also honors Unborn Jesus by the respect and adoration he shows the Unborn Word of God.

 “Mary said: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to Thy word.” What happened at that moment? The Holy Ghost overshadowed her, the Body of Our Lord was formed from her pure blood, God created the human Soul to dwell in it, and by the act of the Incarnation that Soul and Body became the Soul and Body of the Word, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity ; Mary became the Mother of God and Gabriel worshipped before the Tabernacle of the Word made flesh.” Ortus ChristiMother St. Paul

 

Like Gabriel we too can worship the Unborn Christ Child and show great reverence to his mother. We can also honor Unborn Jesus by the respect and reverence we give to each unborn baby made in His image and likeness and by the love and support we give to their mothers.



How are we to honor Unborn Jesus (and all unborn babies made in his image and likeness)?

Meeting of Mary and Elisabeth by Marx Reichlich, Austrian painter (b. 1460, Salzburg, d. 1520, Salzburg) Alte Pinakothek, Munich

Sunday was the feast of the birth of St. John the Baptist. In honor of St. John we are posting a short series entitled:

How are we to honor Unborn Jesus (and all unborn babies made in his image and likeness)?

There are countless ways to honor Christ Unborn. But one way to consider this question is to reflect on the eight people and one angel mentioned in the Gospels as particularly honoring Jesus during His 9 months in the womb. These 9 are: the Archangel Gabriel, Mary, Unborn John the Baptist, Elizabeth and Zechariah (John’s parents), Joseph and finally the 3 wise men.

We would like to start with 2 quotes about unborn John who stands in the place of all unborn babies – who in a sense is every unborn baby.

Cardinal Bérulle (1575 – 1629) wrote extensively on the Unborn Christ Child. Here he reflects on the Visitation when the unborn John the Baptist leaps with joy:

God has become a child, and so he wants first to be known and adored by a child, and this is one of the first emanations of the childhood of God, manifesting himself to the universe. God is a child, the world ignores, heaven adores, and a child is the first person in the universe to recognize and adore him, and he does so by the homage and secret operation of God himself, who wants to act upon children. He wants to honor himself as child by giving the first knowledge of himself to a child in the world, making him his prophet in the universe. Thus the Infant-God is recognized and manifested, not by and angel, but by a child. So his first prophet is a child, just as shortly his first martyrs will be children.”

Bishop Austin Vaughan (1927-2000), Auxiliary Bishop of New York, who was arrested many times for peacefully praying and protesting in front of abortion facilities, wrote an article called  “The Catholic Duty to be Pro-Life” in which he reflected:

“It is not an accident, I think, that in the Scriptures the first person, after Mary, who adored Jesus when he came into the world was St. John the Baptist…The second person who ever worshipped Jesus after Mary was an unborn baby and I think God made it that way to tell us in our day and age the worth and importance of every individual right from the very beginning of life.”



St. Anthony and the Christ Child
June 12, 2012, 5:34 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Quotes from Great Christians, Saints

El Greco (Doménikos Theotokópoulos), Saint Anthony of Padua, c. 1586, oil on canvas.  Museo nacional del Prado, Madrid

There is a story that St. Anthony was seen holding the Christ Child in his arms. Many images and statues of St. Anthony depict him holding the Christ Child. One variation of these images is of St. Anthony holding a Bible with the Christ Child on it. The most unusual one is El Greco’s St. Anthony. Here are 2 other images in this tradition.

 Perhaps this is because St. Anthony was also known as a great preacher – and especially for his knowledge of scripture. Following are 2 quotes from St. Anthony’s sermons which pertain to the Christ Child.

“The fruit of the bee is the Son of the Virgin. Blessed is the fruit of thy womb [Lk 1.42], it says; and Canticles 2: His fruit was sweet to my palate [Cant 2.3]. This fruit is sweet in its beginning, middle and end. It was sweet in the womb, sweet in the crib, sweet in the temple, sweet in Egypt, sweet in his Baptism, sweet in the desert, sweet in word, sweet in miracles, sweet on the ass, sweet in the scourging, sweet on the Cross, sweet in the tomb, sweet in hell and sweet in heaven. O sweet Jesus, what is more sweet than you are? ‘Jesu- the very thought is sweet…sweeter than honey far.’ ”

The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Anthony of Padua

Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son: and his name shall be called Emmanuel. [Is 7.14]

“…that is, God-with-us. This God is made a little child for us, is born for us today. There are many reasons why Christ is called a little child; and for briefness’ sake here is just one: if you hurt a child, make him cry… but then show him a flower, a rose or something like that, and after showing it give it to him- then he will not remember the hurt, he will put away his indignation and run to embrace you. In the same way, if you offend Christ by mortal sin, or inflict any kind of injury on him, but then offer him the flower of contrition or the rose of tearful confession (“Tears are the soul’s blood”), then he will not remember your offences, he will take away your guilt and run to embrace and kiss you.

 The Nativity of the Lord,  St. Anthony of Padua



THE 2ND WOMAN, THE 2ND MOTHER, THE 2ND EVE
May 13, 2012, 6:16 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Mary, Mother of the Lord

Apokalypse Maria-Ekklesia Neubirnau am Bodensee,Presbyterium,Deckenfresko von Gottfried Bernhard Goz,  1749/50

Gen 2.23:

Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman…”

Gen 3.14-15:

The Lord God said to the serpent….“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heal.”

Gen 3.20:

The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

Jn 2.4:

And Jesus said to her, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”

Jn 19.26-27:

When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, He said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!”  And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

Rev 12.1-17:

And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun…she was with child…And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child…she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron……and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God…And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had borne the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle…The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman…But the earth came to the help of the woman… and swallowed the river…Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.



The Visitation and Evangelization
April 30, 2012, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Unborn Jesus

Nördlingen. Stadtmuseum. Hochaltar, li. Flügel: Heimsuchun

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has  an interesting article entitled Three stories of Evangelization from the Gospels:

The scenes they choose to look at are  1. Mary Visits Elizabeth. (Lk 1: 39 – 56)  2. Jesus’ First Disciples (Jn 1: 19 – 50)  and  3. Jesus talks with a Samaritan Woman (Jn 4: 1 – 42)

Here is what they say about the Visitation:

In the story of the Visitation, Church tradition often refers to Mary as “the first missionary”. In this scripture, Mary has only just discovered that she is miraculously pregnant with a child who is the Son of God, and who will be the saviour king that her people have been waiting for. She visits Elizabeth, who is also expecting a child: the future John the Baptist. When Mary greets Elizabeth, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, and her unborn child leaps for joy because Jesus is present.

Mary brought with her the unborn Jesus, and the Good News that God had finally sent the Saviour. In a similar way, an evangelist brings with them something very precious: the good news of God’s love, an invitation to come to know Jesus personally, and the testimony of the saving power of Jesus. Just as Elizabeth and John the Baptist were filled with the Spirit and joy in the presence of Jesus, the Good News of Jesus Christ is the source of deep joy when it is received into the heart.

To read the whole article click here.



He has shown the strength of His Arm
April 12, 2012, 4:11 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

Unborn Christ with His arm outstretched

“But what is the meaning of the words (in the Magnificat) “He has shown the strength of His Arm”…Among the works of God, some are attributed to His hands and fingers, like the Heavens, “The Heavens are the works of thy hands” “I will behold the Heavens, the works of thy fingers.” Others are attributed to one of His fingers, “This is the finger of God,” like the wonders that He performed through Moses in Egypt. But the incomparable work of the Incarnation is attributed neither to the hands or fingers of God; it belongs to the arm of His divine might because it incomparably surpasses all the other works of His adorable majesty.”  The Admirable Heart of Mary by  St. John Eudes

So, Mother St. Paul reflects on Isaiah’s words: “A little Child shall lead them” (Isa 11:6), then she prays to the Unborn Lord: “Oh! Come, little Saviour, come and redeem us by Thy outstretched Arm!”

How humanly weak that unborn arm, yet how powerful its redemptive blessings. We too can turn to the Unborn Christ Child and beg Him to outstretch His tiny arm and work pro-life miracles in our own day.

15th Century Visitation sculpture from Passau. As is customary in later representations of the Visitation, Mary and Elizabeth embrace, appearing as mirror images of one another, their unborn children, Christ and John the Baptist, can be seen in the mandoria-shaped hollows of their mother’s wombs. (see detail of Christ in the womb above)



Mary’s 2nd Annunciation: “Woman Behold Your Son”
April 6, 2012, 7:33 am
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, John Paul II, Mary, The Incarnation

Painting of Virgin Mary, Croatia, Dalmatia, Dubrovnik, Rector’s Palace

The angel Gabriel’s words in Nazareth: “Hail, full of grace” (Lk 1,28) also cast light on the scene at Calvary. The Annunciation comes at the beginning, the Cross signals the fulfillment.

At the Annunciation, Mary gives human nature to the Son of God within her womb; at the foot of the Cross, she welcomes the whole of humanity within her heart in the person of John. She was Mother of God from the first moments of the Incarnation, and she became the Mother of humanity during the final moments of the life of her Son Jesus on earth.

She, who was without sin, on Calvary “experienced” within her own being the suffering of sin that her Son had taken upon himself to save humankind. At the foot of the Cross on which was dying the One whom she had conceived at the moment of her “yes” at the Annunciation, Mary received, as it were, a “second annunciation”: “Woman, behold, your son!” (Jn 19,26).

Message of the Holy Father John Paul II for the 18th World Youth Day (April 13, 2003)



The Incarnation – Gift to Humanity
November 14, 2011, 12:06 am
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Evangelium Vitae, Incarnation, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

Meister des Marienlebens Annunciation

Sometimes words such as ‘gift’ and ‘giving’ – like the word ‘love’ – seem over-used, employed too often and too superficially, thus inclined to have their true meaning and intent eroded. But to call the Incarnation a ‘gift from God’ is not only appropriate, it is almost understatement. Consider this observation by John Paul II:

“The conception and birth of Jesus Christ are in fact the greatest work accomplished by the Holy Spirit in the history of creation and salvation: the supreme grace – “the grace of union,” source of every other grace, as St. Thomas explains.” (# 50 The Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and the World)

Here is a very rough paraphrase: The Incarnation of Jesus Christ is the supreme gift – given by God to humanity.

John Paul goes on to say of the Incarnation that it is the “source of every other grace” – and every other Divine gift. Later in the same document, John Paul elaborates on this concept further:

“Creation is thus completed by the Incarnation and since that moment is permeated by the powers of the Redemption, powers which fill humanity and all creation.” #52 

 As we approach Thanksgiving Day, we know that it is a day to thank God for His plenteous and overflowing gifts. What better place to begin our thanksgiving recollection than in Nazareth?

In the time of Christ there was a rather dismissive popular expression: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (Jn 1:46)

“Yes” we might respond, “All Good – ‘the supreme grace’ of God, the true ‘powers of the Redemption’ filling humanity to overflowing, ‘grace upon grace’, and enduring hope!”

Meister des Marienlebens Annunciation (Detail with Unborn Jesus)



“WE ARE PEOPLE OF LIFE AND FOR LIFE” – ARCHBISHOP GOMEZ

(The following column by Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez appeared in the Friday, Oct. 7, issue of the archdiocesan newspaper The Tidings)

Blessed John Paul II said that as Christians we are called to be people of life and for life.

Our religion, in a beautiful and mysterious way, is deeply identified with human life. What other world religion remembers the time when its founder was in his mother’s womb?

Yet in our sacred Scriptures, we preserve the story of Jesus’ conception, his birth, and even some events from his early childhood. We retell these stories in our worship, year after year — at Christmas time, in feasts like the Annunciation. We remember the name of Jesus’ mother in our confession of faith, when we say Jesus was “born of the Virgin Mary.”

Biblical religion is a religion in which family and children, and the promise of children, plays a big role.

Think of the stories of Abraham and Sarah and God’s promise to give them a son. Think of God’s words to the prophet Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”

Again and again in the salvation history we read in the Bible, God’s plan is enacted through a woman who is with child. “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son …”

God loved us so much that he entered into this world as each one of us did — through the womb of a mother.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to love the Gospel story of the Visitation. She always pointed to this detail — how St. John the Baptist leapt in St. Elizabeth’s womb when Mary walked into the room.

She said: “Something very beautiful, something very wonderful happened. The first human being to recognize the presence of Jesus was the little one in the womb of his mother — who leaped with joy. It is so beautiful to think that God gave that little unborn child the greatness of proclaiming the presence of Jesus on earth.”

Click here to read the rest of his statement.



The Queenship of Mary Explained
August 21, 2011, 2:40 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Mother of the Lord, Papal Quotes

Today, August 22 we celebrate the feast day of The Queenship of Mary. This special Liturgical Feast was proclaimed by Pope Pius XII on October 11, 1954 through his Encyclical Letter  Ad Caeli Reginam.

The following is a quote from this Encyclical Letter.

“As We have already mentioned, Venerable Brothers, according to ancient tradition and the sacred liturgy the main principle on which the royal dignity of Mary rests is without doubt her Divine Motherhood.

In Holy Writ, concerning the Son whom Mary will conceive, We read this sentence: “He shall be called the Son of the most High, and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end,”[Luke 1:32,33] and in addition Mary is called “Mother of the Lord”;[Luke 1:43] from this it is easily concluded that she is a Queen, since she bore a son who, at the very moment of His conception, because of the hypostatic union of the human nature with the Word, was also as man King and Lord of all things.

So with complete justice St. John Damascene could write: “When she became Mother of the Creator, she truly became Queen of every creature.” Likewise, it can be said that the heavenly voice of the Archangel Gabriel was the first to proclaim Mary’s royal office.”

AD CAELI REGINAM, ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XII ON PROCLAIMING THE QUEENSHIP OF MARY, # 34