Reflections on the Readings
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - July 5, 2009, Year B
The Fifth Sunday After Pentecost
By Dennis Hankins
"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?"
To the hometown folks, Jesus was just another member of the family. Although the son of Mary, they saw him in the context of his nieces, nephews, and cousins. Remember, the term in Scripture for brothers and sisters, is a common Semitic term that applied not only to children of the same parentage, but to other close relatives. Although filled with astonishment at the gracious words and works of this hometown boy, to them he still was only a carpenter, the kid that grew up among them, Mary's boy.
Now the folks back home knew Mary's secret. They only talked about the events of thirty years ago behind closed doors. So when Jesus came back home to preach in the synagogue of his youth, they listened politely. Still uncomfortable with his divinity, they could only see his humanity, and thus, he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them.
The son of Mary. For two millennia the Church has believed that Mary was Immaculately conceived, that she was free from sin from her conception and remained a Virgin. This was not even disputed by the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. Neither Luther, Calvin or Zwingli had any qualms about the Immaculate Conception of Mary and her perpetual virginity. It wasn't until subsequent leaders of the Reformation that resistance to this universally held truth began to emerge. This resistance is alive and well today.
Consider this. It is this high view, this veneration of Mary, that gave the Church its understanding of the Incarnation. Early Church Councils deliberated about the person of Jesus, whether he was divine only, or human only, or human and divine. It was Mary, and her obedient yes, which gave the Church her understanding of the Incarnation. Seeing her as the New Ark of the New Covenant, they recognized that as no human hands were allowed to even steady the Ark of the Old Covenant,(1 Chronicles 13) neither Joseph would reach out to touch Mary the way a husband would normally touch his wife.
In an email dated November 30, 2007, our son, Timothy shared some thoughts about this. I share them with you now in his own words: "I was thinking about this and thought you might enjoy my conclusions...First, Mary is the recipient of the first fruits of Grace through Jesus Christ, not by her own merit, but through the providential election of God the Father. It is only through Grace that she claims the title, Queen of Heaven. In honoring Mary, we are, in fact, honoring and acknowledging the Grace of God through Salvation in Jesus Christ. Second, Because she is the recipient of the first fruits of Grace, Mary becomes a microcosmic representation of the Church. The Marian dogma proclaims this: in Immaculate Conception, she foreshadows the salvation of all mankind; in the Assumption, she experiences the fulfillment of the promise of the Resurrection of the Body. Just wanted to share this with you."
Thank you sonshine! I couldn't have said it better!
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, it was through Mary, a true handmaiden, you revealed to the whole world, the Word made flesh, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.