Thursday, August 22, 2013

Your Plan for Us

Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary 

The Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah.  Judges 11:29
[W]hen the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.  He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’  But he was reduced to silence.  Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’  Many are invited, but few are chosen.”  Matthew 22:11-14


We have set our trust and security in many places.  Social Security.  Transportation Security.  National Security.  Insurance Companies.  Financial Security.  Food Security.  None of these are where the Psalmist advises us to place set our security.  How do we strike the right balance in today’s world between rendering to the Lord what He asks of us and meeting the practical considerations of protection in a dangerous place?


Today’s lessons drive home the reason for the Coronation of Mary.  This final mystery in the Rosary is not a scriptural based but inferred.  The maiden from Nazareth – in her humility and obedience to the will of God – was the perfect follower.  So based upon “Queenship” as a sign of respect, traditions grew up in the church starting with some great art in the 13th century.
The Catholic teaching on this subject is expressed in the encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam (To the Queen of Heaven), issued by Pope Pius XII in 1954, less than 60 years ago – long after the Renaissance artwork started using this image. His letter teaches that Mary has the title Queen of Heaven because her son is the biblical king of Israel and heavenly king of the universe. Because it is not an actual scene in sacred scripture but more a sacred tradition, all churches do not share this ideal and veneration.  For example, the Eastern Orthodox Churches do not share the Catholic dogma, but still maintain a rich liturgical history in honor of Mary.
Whether or not Mary was crowned with jewels or a dove or a halo upon entering heaven is not for us to know.  What we do know is the attitude and disposition which she displayed that causes us to honor her in this fashion.


In honor of all the feasts that we have to celebrate Mary, consider how you can bring more humility into your life. 
Yesterday, I had a chance to hear a short talk by Chaplain Jerry Pitts from the United States Air Force.  Among the many points he made in his talk, is how one shift in attitude can make all the difference.  He asked us to imagine an office in which we all asked NOT “What’s in it for me?” but rather, “What’s in it for you?”  He was not telling us to think less of ourselves, just to think more of others.
I think that Mary would agree with this. Chaplain Pitts suggested that rather than trying to outshine each other, what if we concentrated on trying to “out-humble” each other? “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (Luke 14:11). 

Maybe we come into church with our wedding garment stained by the sins of our week.  However, we can place those frailties at the foot of the altar, turn away from our desires and start each day and each week anew.  We, too, can ascend Jacob’s ladder of humility. 

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