December 22, 2015

Dec. 22

December 22, 2015:  Tuesday, 4th week, Advent

Find 11 connections with today?
Legend at bottom

Listen

Canticle of Hannah (1st reading)
Magnificat (gospel)
Mary in the Mystery of Christ and of the Church:  Fr. Cantalamessa's 3rd Advent sermon, continued from Sunday

An Ecumenical Perspective on Mary as the Mother of Believers
Vatican II's Mariology helps bring Catholics and Protestants closer on the issue of devotion to Mary.  If Mary is positioned as a part of the Church, then biblical categories and affirmations about human beings shed light on her.  For example, to understand her mediation in the work of salvation, it helps to start with her mediation as a creature, as with the mediation of Abraham, the apostles, and the sacraments, rather than from Christ as mediator between God and people.  The greatest gap is not between Mary and the rest of the Church but between creatures and Creator:  Mary and the Church on one side, and Christ and the Trinity on the other.  So if Abraham merited the title “father of us all,” we can better understand why the Church calls Mary “mother of us all.”  Is it a simple title of honor, or more?  Here we see the possibility of an ecumenical discussion about Mary.  Calvin interprets the text in which God said to Abraham, “By you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves” to mean that “Abram would be not only an example but a cause of blessing”; modern Protestant exegete Jacob agrees.  Abraham receives the role of a mediator in God’s saving plan, for “all families of the earth.”  This helps us understand how tradition says Mary is not only an example of blessing but also a cause of salvation—in a way that depends on grace and God’s will.  "Mary, by yielding obedience, become the cause of salvation, both to herself and for the whole human race” (Irenaeus).
The initiators of the Reform recognized Mary in as our mother and the mother of salvation.  “Mary is the rightful mother [of every person], Christ their brother, and God their father.  If you believe, then you'll rest in Mary's lap and be her child (Luther).  Zwingli calls Mary “the ever Virgin Mother of our salvation” and says that in regard to her he “never thought, still less taught, or declared publicly, anything... which could be considered dishonorable, impious, unworthy, or evil.”  Then how are some Protestants now are so uneasy about Mary that they almost belittle her, attack Catholics about her, and skip over what the Bible says about her?  We Catholics have made Mary unacceptable to them by honoring her in exaggerated ways, not within the biblical framework that declares her role as subordinate to God's Word, the Spirit, and Jesus.  We've invented new titles and devotions.  Vatican II reacted by recommending that we “refrain from whatever might... lead [people] into error” and reminding us that “true devotion consists neither in transitory feeling nor empty credulity.”  I believe the Protestants can acknowledge the negative influence of both anti-Catholic polemic and of rationalism on their attitude toward Mary.  Mary is a woman, not an idea to be theorized about.  As icon of God’s simplicity in a rationalism-dominated environment, she had to be eliminated.
Mother Basilea Schlink, foundress of the Lutheran “Sisters of Mary,” wrote, "Reading the words of Luther, who revered Mary, observed her festivals, and sang the Magnificat daily, we sense how far most of us have drifted from the proper attitude towards her....  Because rationalism accepted only what could be explained rationally, everything reminiscent of Mary was done away with in the Protestant Church.  All biblical relationship to Mary was lost, and we're still suffering.  When Luther bids us to praise Mary, declaring she can never be praised enough as, after Christ, the fairest gem in Christendom, I must confess I had not, although Scripture says all generations would call her blessed."  All this allows us to hope that, not long from now, Catholics and Protestants might be united about Mary in shared veneration, perhaps differing in form but agreeing in recognizing her as Mother of God and Mother of believers.  I've spoken about Mary to Protestant audiences and noted not only acceptance but also the deep emotion of rediscovery of something precious and healing of memories. [to be continued]
Read
    Hannah presents Samuel to Eli
    Hannah presents Samuel to Eli
    (Topham)
  • 1 Sm 1:24-28  Hannah presented Samuel at the temple:  “I prayed for this child, and you granted my request.  Now I give him to you; he'll be dedicated to the Lord all his life.”  She left Samuel there.
  • 1 Sm 2:1, 4-8abcd  "My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior."  “The bows of the mighty are broken, while the weak gain strength.  The well-fed go hungry, while the hungry are satisfied.  The barren wife bears sons, while the mother of many languishes.  The Lord puts to death and gives life, casts down and raises up, makes poor and rich, humbles and exalts, raises the needy and poor.”
  • Lk 1:46-56  Mary:  “I proclaim the Lord's greatness, for he looked upon his lowly servant.  All will call me blessed:  the Almighty has done great things for me.  He has mercy on those who fear him, showed strength, scattered the proud, cast down the mighty, lifted up the lowly, filled the hungry, sent away the rich.  He helped Israel, remembering his promise of mercy.”  She stayed with Elizabeth then returned home.
Reflect
    • Today's O Antiphon:  O Rex Gentium, O King of All Nations and Keystone of the Church;  come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!
      • Creighton:  Today we sing with Hannah and Mary about God’s grace in their lives:  life, salvation, hope.  Hannah’s heart was breaking as she listened to Peninnah’s taunts, but God reversed her fortune.  She offered Samuel, who would be central in God’s saving plan.  She exults God, whose power strengthens the weak, exalts the lowly, fills the hungry with good things, lifts up the poor, and gives children to barren women.  Mary’s song reflects hers:  God, coming in a weak child, will overthrow the powerful; his deeds will reverse fortunes.  God showed favor to Mary; she calls him “Savior.”  She gives birth to Jesus, God-made-man, savior.  Hope has come for the lost, the last, and the least, not for those "with no need."  What song of joy shall I share with others today?

      • One Bread, One Body:  "The Revolutionary War":  Hannah prophesied that the bows of the mighty would be broken and the Lord would lift up the poor.  Mary's prophecy is more revolutionary:  she proclaimed the proud would be confused and the mighty deposed; the lowly will displace the powerful. Mary's prophecy was fulfilled in her Son.  Herod understood the meaning of Christmas better than most, realizing Jesus' birth would be his own downfall, so he tried to kill him.  Christmas is revolutionary, colored with the red of martyrdom.  May we join the Christmas-revolution and live for Jesus' kingdom.
      • Passionist:  Today we consider two extraordinary women of faith and action:  Hannah, who praises God for the gift of her son after years of waiting, presents her son to the Lord in Eli's care; Mary bursts into God’s praises as Elizabeth acknowledges her as “Mother of my Lord.”  Each has lived in a deep relationship with God.  has persisted in their petitions, and has listened to him.  They recognize God’s loving action, offer themselves in service to him, and praise God who loved them.  They accept God’s blessings in the persons of their sons and rear them to have faith and serve God.  Hannah brings Samuel to his apprenticeship with Eli; Mary accepts God’s Word into her womb, then goes to see Elizabeth.  We may think of Christmas as a time of peace, comfort, and happiness and sit back with contentment, but these two women invite us to Christmas of action, generosity, compassion, kindness, fence mending, reaching out, and spending time with the sick and with family.  May God’s blessings enliven us to greater joyful action in living our faith.
      • DailyScripture.net:  "Joyful Expectation of the Messiah":  Those who hunger for the Lord won't be disappointed; he'll fill them with peace, joy, and righteousness.  As events leading to Jesus' birth unfold, we see Old Testament prophecies, promises and prayers being fulfilled.  When Elizabeth and Mary greeted each other, they were filled with the Spirit and joyful anticipation of the fulfillment of God's promise of a Savior.  John the Baptist, even in the womb, pointed to his coming and leapt for joy as the Spirit revealed the King's presence to him.  God reigns in us through the Spirit, who enables us to know and experience God's presence and power.  Mary accepted her mission with faith and obedience and acted with trust and faith because she believed God would fulfill his word.  Her Magnificat echoes Hannah's song and proclaims God's favor.  Hannah had also been without child, and God gave her a son, whom she dedicated to the service of the Lord.  May we renew our faith and hope in God and his promises and deepen our love for God and neighbor.
      Dress legend
      • 'Wheat' pin:  "The well-fed hire themselves out for bread" (canticle); an ephah of flour... (1st reading)
      • Purple suspenders:  ...and a skin of wine (1st reading); Advent season
      • 'Girl with heart' pin:  "My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior" (canticle); "He has mercy on every generation" (gospel)
      • 'Crowns' tie:  O King of Nations (today's O Antiphon)
      • 'Angel with horn' tie pin:  "My horn is exalted in my God" (canticle)
      • 'Magnificat' pin:  Mary's Magnificat canticle (gospel)
      • 'Eyeball' pin:  The Lord has looked on his servant (gospel)
      • "Blessed Mother blue" shirt
      • 'Bull' pin (not shown; sadly still in need of repair; see here):  Hannah brought Samuel and a 3-year-old bull with her... (1st reading)