Redemptoris Mater: Part 1-Mary in the Mystery of Christ

In case you need a refresher the is Pope John Paul II’s encyclical about Mary, the past two weeks we’ve had an overview of the Encyclical and the introduction.

John Paul II begins looking at Mary in the Mystery of Christ. We begin in Paul’s letters with the universal plan of God, salvation in Christ. In fact the Father chose us before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him. This divine plan comes to action through Mary as Vatican II states “she is already prophetically foreshadowed in that promise made to our first parents after their fall into sin” this and what Isaiah’s “a Virgin will bear a son and name him Emmanuel” are the Old Testament sign posts to Mary. Mary enters into the story of Salvation History in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels with the Annunciation. At the Annunciation an Angel of the Lord appeared to Mary.

At this point we begin an analysis of the Hail Mary, taking the parts from scripture and looking at them more closely. “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Lk. 1:28) John Paul makes a great point here saying that Mary isn’t even named but the angel uses full of grace to address her. Mary isn’t the rebellious or bitter or strong water which her name means in Hebrew, but full of grace is more than the indication that Mary is with child (Jesus) it seems to indicate that Mary was chosen before the creation of the world to be the mother of God. Meditating on being full of grace leads us to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians which opened the section (1: 3-7).

Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Lk, 1:42) This comes from the Visitation Elizabeth greets Mary with this when enter Elizabeth’s house. John Paul indicates that this is more than a simple blessing for Mary but it is a blessing for all of us.  He continues saying that the most important part is what Elizabeth says next “Why is it that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?… blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lk 1:44-45) This John Paul points out links back to “full of grace” saying that both  the Annunciation and the Visitation reveal an essential Mariological content, Mary becomes present in the mystery of Christ because she believed what the angel said. That’s all the Hail Mary which comes from the Bible.

In the third section of part 1 we look at the role Mary played as a mother in the life of Christ. She is the woman who bore and fed Jesus as a child he sucked her breast. Although not much of the early life of Jesus as a boy growing up is recorded in canonical gospels except for the Finding in the Temple, we should consider that Jesus would be like most children and love their mothers growing up. By the time for the wedding at Cana, where Jesus tells Mary “the hour has not yet come”  yet Mary tells the servants to do what he tells you to do.  She knows that Jesus is meant for great things and is there to support Jesus at the beginning as his ministry grows Mary stays in Nazareth until the Passion. The Wedding feast shows us why we pray to Mary, at the feast they went to Mary saying that there was no wine and she brings the message to Jesus Mary acts as a mediator.  This is how our prayers work as well we pray to Mary so Jesus will listen to our prayers, she is the Mediatrix. This continues to the Passion where Jesus gives his mother to the beloved disciple “Women behold your son…behold your Mother” and Mary is once again present at Pentecost waiting with the disciples for the Holy Spirit to come. Jesus gave him mother to all of us at his crucifixion and we were given to his mother as well.

Next week we will be looking at Part 2= The Mother of God at the Center of the Pilgrim Church.

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