Homily preached by Frank Tuchols, Pastoral Associate
St. Paul’s on the Green, Norwalk, CT
The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost – The Feast of St. Mary the Virgin (transferred) – August 19, 2012
As we celebrate this ancient feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary I would like to focus our attention on the relationship that Mary shared with her son. We believe that Jesus was both human and divine and one cannot help but wonder what their relationship was like as Jesus developed into what we have come to believe the God-Man. Did Jesus require discipline. Most likely, all the developmental stages of his growing up were experienced within the holy family and Mary must have played a special parental role in who he came to be.
In considering what we have come to know about Mary from scripture, there is not a whole lot we can say. Carroll Stuhlueller, a scripture scholar who has written about Mary in his book on Marian Studies, first and foremost notes that Mary was a deep and reflective person. We’re told that Mary “pondered” on her life. This is certainly important for us here living in a world that at times drowns out our ability to reflect on who we are and where we’re going. At times we find it difficult to give ourselves quiet moments when we’re alone with ourselves away from all the media connections of contemporary existence. With Mary I encourage you to try and give yourself a period of absolute silence and see what that is like and what you learn about yourself.
Mary also displayed some prophetic resistance to the message of the angel that something special was going to happen to her. Scripture says she was “troubled” by the message and she questioned how this could happen to her. It is important to note that it is OK to question what God gives us. To even wrestle with the meaning of what we are given. Questioning will only purify the message and can certainly deepen its meaning.
It’s also important to remember that Mary was a Semite women. This means she was not accustomed to thinking in contemporary categories. All she may have been aware of was that something different and possibly special was happening in her life. I’m sure mystery filled her life as she followed the journey of her son. But most importantly she did not run away or withdraw. She remained true to her call even though it was difficult to understand. That is significant because the mystery of our lives and mystery in religion is not something we can’t understand but rather mystery that we never stop understanding more of as we continue to acknowledge it and immerse ourselves in it. Mary did that in a very special manner.
Most of all, Mary was there at the birth of her son and she was there at the cross when he gave up his spirit. Mary was there from beginning to end. Mary continued with the early Christian community and continued to deepen her understanding of the special place and happening she shared with her son.
Today as we celebrate Mary, may she continue to be a model for us the Church. A model in her depth and ability to reflect on her life and wrestle with the mysteries that surrounded her. May we too continue to live into the mysteries of who we are, strengthening and deepening who we are in our relationship with Jesus the God-Man and our Risen Lord.