Monday, August 15, 2016

“Catholics are frequently criticized because of the prominence and respect given to the Virgin Mary while simultaneously condemned for not giving enough prominence and respect to women.”

Gospel Text: (LK 1:39-56)
Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.

Why was Mary’s body taken into Heaven along with her soul? Mary is the type of person that all of us were originally supposed to be, but didn’t become because of Original Sin. If Adam and Eve, and all of us in turn, had never sinned, then every one of us would rise body and soul into Heaven at the end of our lives. Death as we know it (including the separation of body and soul) only exists because of human sin.

Yet Mary was given a special gift by God, since God knew from eternity that she would accept His calling to be the Mother of Christ. This gift was the privilege given at the first moment of Mary’s existence, the privilege of her Immaculate Conception. That she was conceived by her mother, St. Anne, without Original Sin, meant that her whole life was a special grace from God. It was still filled with struggles and pain, but at the end of her life on this earth, Mary became a sign of hope for us.

Because Mary was never touched by the effects of original sin, she didn’t suffer the corruption of her body.

Mary is the perfect example of what it means to take the gifts given by God and use them completely for good. Because Mary accepted the great gift of being the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of God, and because she always stood faithful to Christ, even as he hung on the Cross, she was protected by God from the most powerful effect of original sin: that body and soul should be separated at the time of death.

So when the end of Mary’s life came, she became the sign that shows all of us our own destiny as disciples of Christ. When we die, our souls and bodies will be separated for quite some time: until the end of time, in fact. Nonetheless, if you and I follow Christ even when it means embracing the Cross — if we are always willing to use the gifts God has given us for good and not evil — then when Christ comes a second time (at the end of time), your body and my body will be raised by Christ, and with our Blessed Mother in Heaven we will all thank God for the gift of life. We shouldn’t forget that we celebrate this in our Creed when we pray, “We believe in the resurrection of the body.”

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