We honor the Blessed Virgin Mary above all women who have ever lived. Because she had the great honor of carrying our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ within her very body, we celebrate her life of faith with many feasts throughout the year, including today. As she says of herself, “From this day all generations will call me blessed.”
There are many, however, who question the honor we show to Mary. They wonder if it somehow takes away from the honor that is due to God alone. By acknowledging our Blessed Mother, are we offending our Heavenly Father who alone deserves all glory and praise.
A few examples should help us understand how it is that by honoring Mary we also give honor to her Son, Jesus.
Often when we look out at the created world we cannot help but marvel at the beauty of it all. When we see the majesty of the ocean or the awesome expanse of the universe, does it not lead us to give praise to the God who created it all? Does it not cause us to wonder how great the God who brought it all forth from nothing must be? Just so, when we honor Mary’s role as mother of our Saviour and the deep faith with which she lived her life, do we not also honor our Heavenly Father who created her and endowed her with so many graces?
Another helpful example is that of an artist. If I were to praise a masterful painting, would the artist be offended? If I were to go on and on about how moving a piece of sculpture is, would the one who created it say that by doing so I was ignoring her? Of course not. The painter or sculptor would take pride in my recognition of his or her masterpiece. Just so, when we recognize the beauty of our Blessed Mother we are honoring the God who made her.
Of all her wonderful qualities, the one fact of her life that we celebrate is her “yes” in participating with God in bringing forth Jesus. Without that “yes”, our Lord and Savior could not be born. Our Heavenly Father did not coerce or force Mary to be the mother of His Son. Rather He sent an angel to invite her to play such a momentous role in our salvation. In total trust in God’s plan, she put aside her own plans and dreams. Though she may never have fully understood how it would all turn out, she stood at Jesus’ side right up to His death on the cross.
Because of her faithfulness, God rewarded her with the dignity of being assumed, body and soul, into heaven. Just as she was the first to believe, just as she was the first to say “yes” and give herself fully to God’s plan, so she is the first to enjoy the crowning achievement of salvation - the resurrection of the dead. Our Heavenly Father would not allow her sinless body to lay corrupt in the grave, but raised her up and made her Queen of Heaven.
Her life serves as an example for us. We will not serve the Kingdom of God in the same way she did. However, each of us has a part to play. Each of us must say “yes” on a daily basis to God’s will. Like Mary, we will not always understand how it will all play out. But our trust and abandonment to our Heavenly Father in faith is indispensable to bringing about the salvation of the world.
This feast in particular reminds us where our hope lies. As we recite every Sunday in the Creed, “We look forward to the resurrection of the dead.” Like Mary, we hold on to God’s promise that if we have suffered with Jesus, we will also reign with Him. The eternal life of heaven and the resurrection of our bodies awaits all of us who not only believe that Jesus is the Son of God but who stake our lives on it by living according to His teaching no matter what the cost.
We honor God, our Heavenly Father, when we reverence His most beautiful creature, the Blessed Virgin Mary. He has given her to us to be our Mother, to pray for us, to serve as an example for us and to give us hope that we too will share in the eternal life she now enjoys at the throne of her Son, Jesus. As we receive the Body of Christ, the Body that Mary carried in her womb with so much love and the Body which rose from the dead to give us the hope of everlasting life, let us say “yes” together with her to the plan of God which is still unfolding in history and which will one day culminate in the victory of Christ over sin, suffering and deat