Our Lady, Mother and Queen

Commentary on the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Readings for the Memorial: Isaiah 9:1-7; Psalm 112; Luke 1:26-38

Today’s celebration occurs on the octave day of the Assumption of Our Lady. In that feast we celebrate the reunion of Mary with her Son on the day of her death. She is the first to join Jesus in eternal glory on the basis that she is the only person, apart from her Son, who was totally free from sin all her life. As the first of the human race in rank before God’s presence and as the Mother of Christ our King, she is given the title of Queen.

The Gospel reading is the account of the Annunciation taken from Luke’s gospel. Just prior to this passage is the story of the announcement of the conception of John the Baptist to Elizabeth, who was, in the normal course of things, beyond child-bearing age. Now, six months into Elizabeth’s pregnancy we are told that the angel Gabriel came on a special mission to a young girl in the obscure town of Nazareth in Galilee. She was not yet married, but was betrothed to a man named Joseph. Betrothal meant that she was fully committed to marriage, but not yet living with her future husband.

The angel greeted Mary:

Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.

Mary is quite alarmed by this greeting. She is not aware of being in any way special. The angel then goes on to tell her that she is specially favoured by God. Because of this she will conceive and bear a son, who is to be called Jesus (whose name means ‘God saves’).

This Son will be very special. He will be great, he will be called the Son of God, and he will inherit the throne of his ancestor David. He will become the ruler of the House of Jacob (that is, of Israel), but his kingdom will never end.

Mary is deeply puzzled. How can this happen to her because she is not yet married and has no relations with any man? The angel replies that all this will happen through the special intervention of God. The child she bears will be no ordinary child; he will be the Son of God, that is, his Father is God through the power of the Holy Spirit. And, as a confirmation that what seems impossible can happen, she is told of the pregnancy of her cousin Elizabeth, something which in the normal course of events should not be possible.

Mary then bows her head and submits unconditionally to the words of Gabriel:

Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.

This is the high point of human history as we Christians understand it. With that unconditional acceptance of God’s will for her, in that moment, the new life began in the womb of Mary. It is the moment of Incarnation, the moment of God’s enfleshment, of his becoming a member of the human family and making God visible in a special way in our world.

Mary gave her unconditional ‘Yes’ to God’s request and that is her glory. But it does not stop there because it is clear that Mary never for a moment took back that ‘Yes’. She implemented it through all the experiences she would have in the years to come, some of them difficult and painful. And, most painful of all, she stood at the foot of the Cross faithful to her Son to the very end. She still had no idea of the joy to come.

Last week we celebrated her Assumption into God’s glory to be with her Son immediately after her death. Today we honour her not just as the Mother of God’s Son but, because he is now Christ the King, she, as the mother of a king, is a Queen. This we remember each time we pray the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary.

Mary, as Queen, is also Jesus’ First Disciple, having given herself totally and unconditionally to God’s will for her. Let us ask her to help us to follow in her footsteps that we may live up to our own calling to be Priests, Prophets and Kings/Queens in Christ’s Mystical Body.

The First Reading is from the prophet Isaiah. It is a text used by Matthew (chap 4) for the beginning of Jesus’ public life. It refers to the coming of a Prince of Peace, who brings light into a dark world. He brings joy and rejoicing and removes the burdens from people’s shoulders.

The second part of the reading tells how this happens. It is because:

…a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders, and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

These titles were majestically put to music by Handel in his ‘Messiah’ oratorio.

The reading’s relevance to today’s celebration is, of course, that it was through the cooperation of Mary, that this Prince of Peace came to be born. Her role in the great event of the Incarnation was crucial.

Jesus needs to be reborn in each one of us so that his message can continue to be heard. Let us ask Mary to help us in carrying out God’s will in our daily lives and part of that will is that we share our knowledge of Jesus’ Way with those who have not had the opportunity to hear it.

Mary, Queen of Heaven, pray for us!

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