22 Aug, Monday, The Queenship of Mary (Memorial)
Is 9:1-6. Promise of joy for those who sat in darkness.
Lk 1:26-38. The Annunciation; the promise to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.”
How this Feast arose
Eight days ago, we were celebrating the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Today, we are commemorating another beautiful Marian Feast, that of the Queenship of Mary. This special Liturgical Feast was proclaimed by Pope Pius XII on October 11, 1954 through his Encyclical Letter “Ad Caeli Reginam.”
The Catholic Church made this proclamation in view of the fact that throughout its history, whether in time of peace or in time of war, the faithful have continuously addressed prayers of petition and hymns of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven. Following the tremendous destruction that occurred during World War II and considering the reality that the threat of a similar catastrophe filled the faithful with a great anguish, the Church turned its eyes towards Mary, the Heavenly Queen, in the hope of her protection.
Keeping in mind that worldwide devotion to Mary continued to be very popular, including in Fatima, to bring the Year of Mary to a happy and beneficial conclusion, and in response to petitions that were received in Rome from all over the world, the Church considered that it was appropriate to institute the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen. Through this proclamation, it was not the intent of the Church to proclaim a new truth.
“From early times Christians have believed, and not without reason, that she of whom was born the Son of the Most High received privileges of grace above all other beings created by God. He ‘will reign in the house of Jacob forever,’ [Lk. 1:32] ‘the Prince of Peace,’ [Is. 9:6] the ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords.’ [Rev. 19:16] And when Christians reflected upon the intimate connection that obtains between a mother and a son, they readily acknowledged the supreme royal dignity of the Mother of God.” (Ad Caeli Reginam; 8)
“Hence it is not surprising that the early writers of the Church called Mary ‘the Mother of the King’ and ‘the Mother of the Lord,’ basing their stand on the words of St Gabriel the archangel, who foretold that the Son of Mary would reign forever, [Lk. 1:32-3] and on the words of Elizabeth who greeted her with reverence and called her ‘the Mother of my Lord.’ [Lk. 1:43] Thereby they clearly signified that she derived a certain eminence and exalted station from the royal dignity of her Son.” (Ad Caeli Reginam; 9)
According to ancient tradition and the sacred liturgy the main principle on which the royal dignity of Mary rests is without doubt her Divine Motherhood. In Holy Writ, concerning the Son whom Mary will conceive, we read this sentence: ‘He shall be called the Son of the most High, and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end,’ [Lk. 1:32-3] and in addition Mary is called ‘Mother of the Lord’; [Lk. 1:43] from this it is easily concluded that she is a Queen, since she bore a son who, at the very moment of His conception, because of the hypostatic union of the human nature with the Word, was also as man King and Lord of all things. So with complete justice St John Damascene could write: ‘When she became Mother of the Creator, she truly became Queen of every creature.’ [S. Ioannes Damascenus, De fide orthodoxa, 1. IV, c. 14; PL XCIV, 1158 s. B.] Likewise, it can be said that the heavenly voice of the Archangel Gabriel was the first to proclaim Mary’s royal office.” (Ad Caeli Reginam; 34)
To understand the Queenship (queen mother) of Mary as the mother of Jesus as the eternal King, it is necessary to know Jewish history. First of all, it must be shown that Jesus was born of royal family. This proof is found in the following Biblical passages. “And Jesse the father of King David. And David was the father of Solomon.” [Mt. 1:6] “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generation.” [mt. 1:17] “Jesus was the son (as was thought) of Joseph son of Heli, [Lk. 3:23] son of David, [Lk. 3:31] son of Adam…”[Lk. 3:38] “These are the words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David.” [Rev. 3:7] “Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered…” [Rev. 5:5] “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, ‘King of kings and Lord of lords.'” [Rev. 19:16] “I am the root and descendant of David.” [Rev. 22:16]
Reviewing Jewish history, it is learned that the institution of the “queen mother” was established during the reign of King Solomon. In the Old Testament, we find the following words, “King Solomon had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat on his right.” [1 Kgs 2:19] Many of the kings who succeeded King Solomon kept this practice. The mother of the king, through who the king received his throne, was trusted as a confident and advisor. So important was the function of the queen mothers in the days of the Old Testament that their names were listed in the succession records of the kings of Judah. [1 Kgs 14:21, 15:13; 2 Kgs. 12:1, 14:2, 15:2, etc…] In one instance of the Jewish history, we find that when the king died, the queen mother ruled for a time. [2 Kgs. 11:1-3]
Considering the fact that Jesus was a descendant of the House of David in which it was the practice of the mother of the king to sit at the right hand of the king as the Queen mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, being the mother of Jesus, is entitled by tradition to sit at the right hand of the Lord Jesus in His eternal Kingdom, she rightfully having inherited the honour and title of Queen Mother as the mother of Jesus who is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
First Reading: Isaiah 9:1-6
There will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. For 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.
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel as sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Or the Ferial Reading:
1 Thess 1:2ff. Paul praises this church for its tested faith, labour of love and constancy of hope.
Matt 23:13ff. Jesus condemns the blind guides for their legalistic distinctions that destroy the purpose of the law.
Genuineness versus Hypocrisy
The Thessalonians live and act in such a way as to “prove” their faith; the blind guides in the gospel destroy faith by legalistic hairsplitting. Compared to the Scribes and Pharisees, the Thessalonian Christians possessed only elementary training in their religion. The fact that they would easily misunderstand Paul’s words about the second coming of Jesus shows that they had gone no further than the ABCs of the faith. This problem will show up again in next week’s readings). Still other problems surfaced at Thessalonica according to Acts 17:1-15.
While the Scribes and Pharisees quoted Scripture much more eloquently and precisely and were much more successful in gaining converts to Judaism than the Thessalonians to Christianity, nonetheless, the latter were proving their faith more effectively. No one proves faith by logical words pondered by the mind or even by miraculous actions seen by the eye. Even the Egyptian magicians could match Moses’ actions, and the devil can quote Scripture for evil purposes. Faith is proved by intuitions of the spirit and by manifestations of the spirit. Its supernatural language is spoken through acts of love and fidelity: By this shall everyone know that you are my disciples, if you have love, one for another (John 13:35). Intuitions of the spirit are communicated through the vibrations of sincerity, honesty, humility and other fruits of the spirit (Gal 5:22).
In this spirit Paul had come to Thessalonica, preaching the gospel “not merely in words” but out of complete conviction. In the same spirit the church he founded there lived the faith so vibrantly that reports of their faith spread to other places too. They confidently awaited from heaven the Son whom God raised from the dead, “Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.” Faith was much more than a recital of past events, for it looked to the future too, awaiting the messianic kingdom. This expectation should not make us dreamers, overlooking the basic needs of our neighbour. Rather, it prompts us to be “labouring in love.” The reading from the 2 Thessalonians joins the two ideas clearly: as faith grows so mutual love increases, and results in a spirit of “constancy.”
The gospel refers to the faith seen among the Scribes and Pharisees. When Jesus declares that their actions are “few,” he means actions worthy of imitation. He goes on to say that their works were performed to be seen. Their religious practices were to enhance their reputation; converts were trophies to be displayed. By using a refined legalism they justified doing what the law prohibits. Jesus’ words here are so severe that we almost wonder if he was being guided by the charity which ought to direct all words and actions? The liturgy does not include other lines which help to put the entire speech into a perspective of love and compassion, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, murderer of prophets and stoner of those who were sent to you. How I have yearned to gather your children, as a mother bird gathers her young under her wings, but you refused me.”
First Reading: 1Th1:1-5, 8-10
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake.
For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.
Gospel: Matthew 23:13-22
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.’ How blind you are! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; and whoever swears by the sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwells in it; and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon it.