UNBORN WORD of the day


MARY’S EYES – THE MATERNAL EYES OF GOD
July 19, 2010, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Mary

D11 The return of the explorers from the promised land.  The people try to stone Moses, Caleb and Joshua.

In Numbers 13 the Lord instructed Moses to send spies into the land of Canaan to scope out the land and the people and the various fortifications around their cities. The spies went into Canaan and spent forty days there as the eyes of the Lord. They returned, but most of them were weak in their faith and gave pessimistic anxious reports of what they saw. Joshua and Caleb however, were true faith-filled spies and saw things more optimistically – they had a more inspired interpretation of the land, its inhabitants and God’s designs for Canaan and the chosen people.

Eyes, apparently are not enough to see clearly. The eyes function in unison with the intellect and the heart. Joshua and Caleb saw things as God wanted things to be seen and understood.

In a unique and singular sense, as the time for the Incarnation of the Son of God approached, – God’s radical invasion of our world – and then later during those initial months and years of the Incarnation, the Virgin Mary’s eyes were God’s eyes in Israel. Her outlook was dependable. As the angel Gabriel said to her: “…you have found favor with God” (Lk1:30). But more, for that particular time in the history of the world, God wanted maternal eyes scoping out the land and the people and sheltering His only-begotten Son.

Mary’s maternal eyes – and her maternal heart – were key to the Incarnation of the Son of God. She could see the will of God – she could understand the will of God as well as any human heart could fathom it. She became during those days – as Joshua and Caleb did in their own time – a Faith Leader for the people of God!

In our own time, we look to Mary and we must see in her this continuing role of Faith Leader for the Church. And more, as the Mother of Jesus Christ, she becomes a mystical Faith Leader for each member of the Mystical Body of Christ. She helps each member of the Church to see the Presence of God in His Church, she helps each one to see the unfolding designs of God for His Church, she encourages each one in following the Will of God. We can say that she understands the Incarnation and the Plan of Salvation and helps interpret these mysteries for us, in our individual lives.

When Mary reports to you what she has seen in God’s plan for your life  – listen to her! She is only human, but 2000 years ago God specially equipped her for her role then and now in these latter times, God has specially equipped her for her new ongoing role within the Church, for now and for ever.



CAESAR AUGUSTUS & THE PROPHET MICAH SHOW MARY GOD’S PLAN
August 10, 2009, 12:18 am
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Incarnation, Mary, Unborn Jesus

statue of Vierge enceinte seul reste

Statue de la Vierge enceinte, seul reste de cette L’abbaye des Allois (moniales bénédictines

This is our sixth post in a series exploring the Creed of Christian faith being revealed to Mary during her pregnancy, trimester by trimester, event by event. We now come to the third trimester. Lk 2:1-7 explains that Caesar has inadvertently determined the place for the Christ Child to be born. According to the census (enrollment) ordered by Caesar, Joseph would have to travel to Bethlehem to fulfill his obligation. Mary (and Unborn Jesus) would accompany him.

Micah the prophet had prophesied this eventuality (see Micah 5:2, Mt 2:4-6):

“And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will govern my people Israel.” Mt 2:6

Before hearing of the enrollment, Mary probably did not know for certain where her Son would be born. This news from Rome was like a piece of a puzzle, which enabled Mary to connect the dots and it is very possible she related the above text from Micah to her specific travel itinerary, and praised God. The verse not only identifies the place of the birth, but states that her Son will be “a ruler who will govern my people Israel”. Mary can now add this information to all of the prior information she had been receiving from angels (Gabriel and the angel of the Lord), remnant Saints (Elizabeth, Zechariah, Joseph) and the Holy Spirit. Now politicians and prophets are enlightening her concerning the Will of God and the mystery of the Incarnation.

It is worth noting also that during these nine months Mary clearly would have ascribed other Old Testament prophecies to her Son (and herself) and would have been thereby further enlightened. One example should suffice: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa 7:14). If nothing else, she could derive from this verse the fact that she as virgin Mother held a Messianic office and the prophets through the centuries were preparing the people for this great dawning of the Messianic Age.

The third trimester ends when the child leaves the womb and is born. So we still have another third trimester event to consider. Mary and Unborn Jesus, along with Joseph, were turned away at the Inn “because there was no place for them”. Here is a profound message for Mary about the difficulty and rejection in store for her Son. Like many of the prophets before Him, her son would no doubt meet with some rejection. (Mary may have even gone so far as to possibly relate the Messianic Psalm 22 to her Son even now, before He had even been born: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”; verse 1).

So they end up in a manger, in humility, and she senses the meekness of God’s Plan for her Son, even now before He is born. She intuitively senses here in this manger, the order of Creation, and perceives that her Son has come indeed to restore a proper order to all things; from the animal kingdom to the angelic realms. She will no longer be heavy with child, but her heart will remain full of Incarnation truths and mysteries, both lived and believed.

The Expectant Madonna with Saint Joseph, 15th century French, National Gallery of Art, Samuel H. Kress Collection

The Expectant Madonna with Saint Joseph, 15th century French, National Gallery of Art, Samuel H. Kress Collection



AN ANGEL SPEAKS TO JOSEPH – MARY IS THE FIRST PERSON HE TELLS!
August 7, 2009, 12:06 am
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Mary, Unborn Jesus

Artist . Brother Claude Lane, O.S.B Title The Dream of Joseph Location Mt. Angel Abbey, Oregon On  one side Joseph is pictured as a traveler, his feet still in movement, and carrying a knapsack. The Angel is pictured on the other side.

Artist . Brother Claude Lane, O.S.B Title The Dream of Joseph Location Mt. Angel Abbey, Oregon On one side Joseph is pictured as a traveler, his feet still in movement, and carrying a knapsack. The Angel is pictured on the other side.

We all know of Joseph’s dilemma. But when did this occur? Mary (and Unborn Jesus) probably returned to Nazareth after visiting Elizabeth (unborn/newborn John) and Zechariah, just as the second trimester of Mary’s pregnancy was getting underway. The first page of the New Testament presents this huge problem and holy solution: somehow Mary “was found to be with child” (Mt 1:19). An angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream:

“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins”.

Joseph does as the angel instructs him. And he tells Mary what he was told by God’s messenger. This is the pattern, each person drawn into the Messianic Mission shares his or her inspiration or spiritual experience with Mary (or she in fact witnesses it) and as John Paul II says “Mary is the contemplative “memory” of the Church…” Message for 77th World Mission Day #3. She cherishes the revealed information within her heart and memory. Let’s consider four points from the angel’s instruction.

Son of David” – this is how the angel addresses Joseph. It is as if Joseph is given a “Messianic office” while he will faithfully do the will of God, parenting the true Son of God. Mary can see in this the supernatural dignity of Joseph’s role as adoptive father of her son. Her relationship with Joseph is solidified and they will act as a team, in harmony with God who is closely watching over their lives. Thirty years hence, Joseph’s son will be called by the same title on many occasions (Mt 9:27, 12:23, 21:9, Mk 10:48). This title then is shared between father and son; perhaps Mary sensed that this would be one of her son’s titles.

Holy Spirit” – this reference to God is a New Testament term, and here it is on the very first page of the New Testament, revealed for the world to hear, by the angel of the Lord to Joseph. But the same term, “Holy Spirit”, had already been spoken to Mary in the same context, by Gabriel. For Mary this is not a coincidence, not even a mere confirmation, it is a holy revelation of the first order – it was fitting that it was revealed to Joseph not by human lips, but by the breath of an angel, commissioned to deliver the message for the glory of God and for the particular good of Mary and her Unborn Son. The angel’s words to Joseph were a sign for him, a sign for Mary and a timeless sign for the universal Church.

Jesus” – we spoke earlier about this name. Mary sees here the intimate detail revealed to her alone thus far, now being shared by God with one other special person. The family of three is now complete, built up around this Name, this Person; “Jesus”.

He will save his people from their sins” – finally, here is the reason for the Incarnation, the reason for this Messianic Mission! This is a supernatural remedy for the fallen condition of humanity. Adam and Eve’s misdeeds will be undone by this Savior. Mary is given a ringing proclamation to ponder, a motto for her life which will always give  perspective to every event, every question, every hope. Mary can read between the lines here and see one word loud and clear: MERCY. Her Son, as Savior, will embody God’s Mercy.

The early Creed of Christianity, in its embryonic statement is taking shape within the heart of Mary, encounter by encounter, methodically, trimester by trimester. But one other sign came to Mary during this second trimester, not mentioned in the bible, but mentioned by every woman who has ever carried an unborn baby to term; the Unborn Son of God poked her, pushed at her, prodded her – with His hands, His feet, even His elbows – what did she think of that?



GOD USES ZECHARIAH TO INSTRUCT MARY
July 26, 2009, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Mary, Unborn Jesus

salimbeni-mary-and-elisabeth-meet-zachariah-2263-mid

Mary and Elisabeth Meet Zachariah   Lorenzo Salimbeni

Luke 1:56 tells us that Mary (and Unborn Jesus) stayed with Elizabeth (and unborn John) and Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah for three months. Most spiritual writers through the centuries have understood this to mean that Mary was present for John’s birth (and for the circumcision and naming of John eight days later). In fact, many believe that it was Mary who told Luke the details of these various events – or if not Mary directly, that Luke learned of them through a Marian tradition.

The priest Zechariah was the first representative of Israel to be informed of the immediate coming of the Messiah. See Lk 1:5-25. When Gabriel appeared to Zechariah he received but a lukewarm reception. Gabriel was not impressed and struck Zechariah silent, unable to speak. Nonetheless, Zechariah would have relayed the words and events in a written form to his wife Elizabeth and also to his guest and relative Mary (especially since Mary was the mother of the Messiah).

Mary would have been immensely interested in every word that Gabriel spoke. While most of the angelic message was actually about the son Elizabeth would bear, there were multiple references to the Lord (v. 15, 16, 17). Curiously, and in light of Gabriel’s next visit to a representative of Israel – that is, Mary in Nazareth – each of these references to “the Lord” could be understood also as references to Jesus. (Recall Elizabeth’s later comment when Mary arrived: “And why is this granted me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” v.43)

All of these references to “the Lord” revealed that there would be a period of preparation during which John would have a tremendous ministry to the people of Israel. One reason this is significant is because it indirectly predicts the early success of “Christianity” within Israel (for example on Pentecost and following). At any rate, this was an optimistic message from the angel about what was to come, albeit, within an indefinite time frame.

Not only was Gabriel’s message to Zechariah very optimistic, but Gabriel even described it in a telling phrase: “I was sent…to bring you this good news” (v. 19). This characterization by God’s messenger of what is coming, confirms in Mary’s mind that God’s Mercy is at work and is a wondrous force for good and blessing. But perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of Gabriel’s message was when he said of Elizabeth’s son: “he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (v. 15). This explains the mystery of John leaping for joy when the Unborn Christ approaches him and Mary greets Elizabeth. Would Mary remember that spectacular event more than thirty years later when she was in the Upper Room with the early Church on Pentecost Day when the Holy Spirit would fill each member of the Church? (see Acts 1:13-14, 2:1-4).

Finally after the baby’s birth, when Zechariah obediently names his son John – according to Gabriel’s instructions –  Zechariah is now filled with the Holy Spirit and speaks! He proclaims what we now call the Benedictus (Lk 1:67-79). Zechariah points to the mystery of Salvation that is dawning upon Israel. He speaks of Christ as “a horn of salvation” raised up by God Most High. Mary is nearby with this “horn of salvation”, the Christ, growing within her womb (unbeknownst to the neighbors gathered around for the blessed ceremonies). Zechariah confirms that all of this is “as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old” – a phrase reminiscent of the Nicene Creed reference: “We believe in the Holy Spirit…He has spoken through the prophets”.

So once again, Mary is the recipient of all of this Divinely inspired information about the Messiah, His mission, the meaning of it, the supporting characters involved and so on. Mary’s heart is like a holy depository of sacred Messianic information. Mary – because God has called her to this function, as part of her “office” as the mother of “the Son of God” – is now the filter, the arbiter of the message of salvation, carrying it within her heart, to deliver at the appropriate time (while she carries the Christ within her, to be delivered after nine months).



MARY’S MAGNIFICAT IS A GLIMPSE INTO THE CREED TAKING HOLD IN HER HEART
July 23, 2009, 12:58 am
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Mary, Unborn Jesus

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This post is the 3rd in our series on the Creed developing within Mary’s Intellect and Heart as the Christ Child develops within her womb. We turn now to the Visitation: Lk 1:39-55.

The Holy Spirit is extremely active during the various exchanges and actions when Mary (and Unborn Jesus) arrive at the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth and specifically when Mary greets Elizabeth (and Unborn John) and when Elizabeth responds. Luke tells us that “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.’” So, Elizabeth refers to Mary’s unborn child (about one week after conception) as “my Lord”. This is revelatory! Elizabeth has identified Unborn Jesus as Messiah and Lord, and Mary as the Messiah’s mother. Elizabeth states that it is a privilege to have the mother of the Messiah and Lord visit her.

What does Mary learn from Elizabeth’s inspired words? First, let it be said that everything about God is extremely personal. God is NOT distant, obtuse, detached from His Creation and creatures! He has become Incarnate. He has fulfilled what He promised. A week ago Gabriel said that Mary had “found favor with God” (Lk 1:30). Now Elizabeth is acknowledging that Mary has a special relationship with God and is blessed for believing “that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her”. This highlights Mary’s personal relationship with God. It is a beautiful relationship; alive in trust, bursting with expectation! Mary is being rewarded for obeying God and believing in the words spoken to her. This is God’s way of thanking Mary for accepting this motherhood of a Divine Person; the Son of God. So Mary sees and tastes the Goodness of God in the words of Elizabeth. This is living the Creed. The Creed in Mary’s heart says that “God is All Good, God is Most Faithful”. This belief drove her onward to Bethlehem, to Egypt, to Cana, to the foot of the cross, to the Upper Room and to Heaven.

But most of all, Mary hears her unborn child called “Lord”! She hears herself called “mother of (the) Lord”. These are titles, and offices. Elizabeth is testifying – albeit, indirectly – that Mary has been given a singular office by Almighty God; ‘mother of the Lord’. This is a sacred duty and obligation in service to the Mission of her Son (see prior post for Gabriel’s description of her Son). With the leaping of unborn John in his mother’s womb (caused by Unborn Jesus) and Elizabeth’s comments, Mary has now seen that her Son’s mission has already begun. She knows from firsthand experience that God is acting here and now, and that the Son of the Most High is the focal point of everything – she is her Son’s handmaiden.

The next 10 verses are Mary’s famous inspired response and are called the Magnificat for the opening line: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” Note the two words “Lord” and “Savior”. Incredibly, Mary is perceiving that these two titles, which she would have used in the past to describe the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, can now also be used to describe her (unborn) Son. This is a fundamental unfolding Revelation of the first order. Elizabeth used the word “Lord” and Mary responds using the same term. But she says “my soul magnifies the Lord” because He is within her, and she is reflective of His Presence as Elizabeth stated. Mary is inspired to use the term ‘Savior’ also. Mary is in a unique position, for when she speaks of God, she is speaking not only of her Creator Yahweh, but also of that Son growing within her. She is associating her Son with the term ‘Savior’, now pointing to the redemptive reality that is dawning upon Israel, twice referencing God’s mercy.

Mary’s Magnificat is centered upon the reality of God; referring at least 18 times to God (he, his, him, and so on). The last verse of the Magnificat recalls God’s relationship with Abraham. Mary is showing the continuity of God’s personal redemptive relationship with the people of Israel, and her Magnificat seems to recapitulate that historical relationship. Abraham was the Father of their faith – now Mary is the Mother of their Savior. She is discovering these truths of the Incarnation as she is living them (and she was inspired by the Holy Spirit as she gave voice to these truths). Her Magnificat offers a holy glimpse into the Creed that is taking hold of her heart, a unique Creed, a mixture of faith, hope, love and maternity – a tender personal Creed especially due to this fourth mentioned element; maternity. Every Christian can learn of this palpable Creed by sharing in Mary’s intimate perspective on her unborn Savior Son!

Our next post will consider the three months Mary (and Unborn Jesus) spent with Zechariah, Elizabeth (and unborn, then newborn John).



THE GERMINATING CHRISTIAN CREED WAS REVEALED TO MARY INCREMENTALLY DURING HER PREGNANCY
July 20, 2009, 10:44 am
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Mary, Unborn Jesus

Annunciazione

In our last post we listed the extraordinary events and Revelations which unfolded in the life of Mary (and Unborn Jesus) during the nine months of her pregnancy. Our list was presented trimester-by-trimester and relied upon the Gospels of Luke and Matthew for scriptural facts. Today’s post is part of a series of upcoming posts reflecting upon the content of the Revelations given to Mary, trimester-by-trimester; the meaning and significance of these Revelations will be discussed.

FIRST TRIMESTER:

Luke 1:28, 30: The initial mystery of her favored relationship to God is revealed to Mary by Gabriel.

Lk 1:31-33 The miraculous nature of her impending pregnancy is revealed to Mary. That her child will be a male, and will be “called the Son of the Most High”, that He will be given the throne of David, will reign forever and there will be no end to His kingdom. This means that her Son will be a King, not just an earthly King by an eternal King, with subjects. Many Christians think of Christ’s kingship as symbolic, but it is not merely symbolic – it is a real and true kingship, in fact Christ is the true measure of all Kings (and Queens) throughout history. There is an incredibly personal and poignant word given to Mary also about this pregnancy, this Son: “you shall call his name Jesus”. Here begins the magnificent Christian devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. It was a name she would embrace in prayer, a name to whisper, a name to marvel at, a name like no other name – a name she discovered by the hour, a name sent down from Heaven upon the head of her baby.

Lk 1:35 This has to be the most fantastic truth ever revealed to a human being!!! The Archangel Gabriel explains how the Incarnation will take place. The child “will be called holy, the Son of God” because the child will be conceived, as the Nicene Creed says, “by the power of the Holy Spirit” and as Gabriel says “ The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…” Virtually the entire first half of the Nicene Creed is embedded here in the cumulative words of Gabriel to Mary! Mary represents the Church and Gabriel is the messenger of  God “Most High”. He is revealing the first mystical kernel of the Christian Creed to Mary and she will embrace it body and soul – she will live the Creed. The Church’s belief in the Incarnation will be rooted in this evangelical exchange. Mary will tell the Church what she was told and the Church will cling to this holy revelation, her martyrs will cling to it with their dying breaths!

Lk 1:36-37 Gabriel tells Mary about the pregnancy of Elizabeth, putting everything into perspective: “For with God nothing will be impossible”. (Approximately a week later, when Mary sees with her own eyes that Elizabeth is, in fact, six months pregnant, she will understand all the more emphatically, the power in the words revealed to her.)

Lk 1:38 Mary’s response to this litany of heavenly revelations has calmed Christians for two thousand years: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” In her heart she now has the key to human history, the hope of humanity, the revelation of all God’s promises in one Word. As the Fathers of the Church would say, she conceives in her heart before conceiving in her womb.

She immediately conceives in her womb – now Christ is physically growing within her womb and the Christian Creed is mystically growing within her intellect and heart. The Creed – in embryonic state – is taking root in a human heart.

Our next post will consider the Visitation (Lk 1:39-45, 46-55).



IN HER WOMB A DEVELOPING CHILD, IN HER HEART A DEVELOPING CREED – SHE EMBRACES BOTH!
July 15, 2009, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Incarnation, Mary

Lippi_Annunciazione_Doria

Mary’s pregnancy was unique for dozens of reasons. One aspect of her pregnancy that has been neglected is the corresponding Revelations she received regularly throughout the pregnancy which are explicitly referenced in the Gospels but almost universally overlooked. God wanted her to be illuminated in her intellect and heart while she was nurturing within her womb the growing mystery of salvation; the Incarnate Son of God.

Let’s do a quick review of these Revelations by trimester (approximated). Note that each Revelation is either directly given to her by an angel of God or by the Holy Spirit or by persons who were directly instructed by angels or inspired by the Holy Spirit. (And all of these direct Revelations presuppose a profound and holy grasp of her foundational Israelite faith, including a superior knowledge of Hebrew scripture).

FIRST TRIMESTER: Luke 1:26-38 (this Revelation was given in conjunction with the conception of Christ), Lk 1:39-45, Lk 1:46-55 (these two occurred about one week later). Mary stayed with Elizabeth and Zechariah for three months and the following Revelations were given her: Lk 1:5-25, Lk 1:57-79. (We are assuming that Mary who experienced these events or had them relayed to her firsthand, passed them on to Luke.)

SECOND TRIMESTER: Matthew 1:20-24 (cross reference Isaiah 7:14). Joseph is instructed by an angel and no doubt revealed to Mary exactly what he had been told.

THIRD TRIMESTER: Luke 2:1-7 (cross reference Micah 5:2).

FOURTH TRIMESTER ? – REVELATIONS IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING

THE NATIVITY: Luke 2:8-20, Lk 2:21, Lk 2:22-38, Matthew 2:1-11, Mt 2:12-18.

Mary is tutored by God throughout her pregnancy and immediately following the birth of Jesus. As she was living God’s Plan of Salvation, minute-by-minute, experiencing these grace-charged events, she was also being given Revealed teachings from God (directly and indirectly). We have listed a sequence of both events and Revelations above. In our next post, we will reflect upon the “Revealed teachings” given to Mary during these months, in part to prepare and strengthen her as she embraced her role as an intimate supporting collaborator in the Incarnation Mission of Jesus Christ.

As Mary flees for Egypt, her womb is now empty, but her intellect is full, her heart even fuller…with love for the child in her arms.

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El Greco (1541-1614) St. Luke (detail)