Monday, May 16, 2011

Mary Coremptrix - Part 7

Luke 1:26-38 – Mary Says “Yes” to Her Role as Coredemptrix at the Annunication

          God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary to announce the impending birth of the Savior, the Messiah, the One Who would rule on David’s throne, “over the house of Jacob forever,” in an everlasting kingdom. (55) Mary asked Gabriel how she could possible give birth to a child since she was a virgin. The angel explained, “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 called holy, the Son of God.” (56) After listening to Gabriel’s reply, Mary humbly and simply said “yes” to God’s invitation to become the Mother of His Son, and Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, became incarnate in her womb. With her simple “yes,” Mary gave the Redeemer the tool He would use to redeem humanity, namely, His human body (see Hebrews 10:10). (57) The process of Redemption had begun and so had Mary’s role as Coredemptrix. (58) Did Mary know this? Did she know what she had just agreed to? Did she know the implications her “yes” would have for humanity, for herself? Many theologians answer affirmatively. For instance, Rev. Stefano Maria Manelli explains that Mary gave her consent to the “objective Redemption” with a “fully conscious faith.” (59) She knew the prophecies concerning the Messiah. She knew that He would be the “Suffering Servant” predicted by Isaiah. She knew that her Son was to be this Messiah, this Suffering Servant, and still she said, “yes.” She fully understood what her answer would entail, what her agreement would bring; she was perfectly aware of the mission her Son would undertake and fulfill, and still she said, “yes.” (60) What is more, she did so with a “joyful desire,” shown by the optative mood of the words she used and St. Luke preserved. (61) At the Annunciation, then, with her humble fiat, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word,” Mary, with full knowledge, gave the Word of God His human body and, in doing so, consented to and began her role as Coredemptrix of the human race. (62)

Luke 2:22:38 – The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

          In obedience to the Law of the Old Testament, Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple forty days after His birth. Mary herself was ritually “purified” at the same time. Before their arrival at the Temple, the holy couple probably had no idea of the significance these common religious acts were to have in their lives and the life of their Son. Simeon, an old man guided by the Holy Spirit, met them in the Temple’s outer courts, took the Baby in his arms, and allowed the Spirit to speak through him a prophecy that would bring Mary both joy and suffering. Hearing little Jesus called the salvation of God, “prepared in the sight of all the peoples”; a “light for revelation to the Gentiles”; and the glory of Israel must have thrilled Mary, causing her heart to nearly burst with joy. (63) A few moments later, though, that joy was replaced with pain as Simeon continued his prophecy, announcing, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will piece) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (64) How Mary’s heart must have already felt the sword when she heard those words! She knew the mission her Son was to fulfill, but to hear it said right out loud must have caused her great suffering, especially since the message included a reminder that more intense suffering was to follow. (65) Pope John Paul II comments on this scene in his Encyclical Redemptoris Mater #16. He notes that Simeon both confirmed “the truth of the Annunciation” and offered a “second Annunciation to Mary,” telling her “the actual historical situation in which the Son is to accomplish His mission, namely, in misunderstanding and sorrow. (66) Mary’s motherhood, he continues, “will be mysterious and sorrowful,” and she “will have to live her obedience of faith in suffering, at the side of the suffering Savior.” (67) Mary experienced significant coredemptive suffering as she presented her Son at the Temple and heard the prophecy of Simeon. As she endured the pain caused by the old man’s words, Mary knew that she was already beginning the process of offering her Son to the Father, if only symbolically, at that moment. Rev. William Most calls the Presentation, “the offertory of great sacrifice. (68) He explains, “Other parents bought their sons back from the service of God. She, in obedience to the law, went through that same ritual. But she would know it was not buying Him back. Rather, it was giving Him over.” (69) Some scholars have accurately called this Presentation a “real and mysterious foreshadowing of Calvary,” in which Mary, as a suffering Coredemptrix, offered her Son to God, understanding that her distress was only a small beginning of the grief and pain she would later face at the foot of the Cross. (70)

Luke 2:41-52 – Jesus is “Lost”

Mary’s coredemptive suffering, which was so clear at the Presentation, continued throughout her entire life (see above). Certainly the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt and their exile there caused her anguish (Matthew 2:13ff.), and there must have been daily sufferings and sacrifices throughout Jesus’ childhood that cut His mother to her heart. Mary’s suffering as Coredemptrix is presented plainly in Luke 2:41-52 when the twelve-year-old Jesus is “lost” during a visit to Jerusalem on the feast of Passover. Separated from her Son for three days, Mary must have been terrified and filled with grief, as any mother would be in such a situation. Rev. William Most calls the three days of separation a time of darkness and great sorrow for Mary and Joseph. (71) Other theologians note that the incident was actually a foreshadowing of Jesus’ death and the three days of intense grief Mary would experience before the Resurrection. (72) When Jesus was finally discovered in the Temple, after all that time of frantic searching, His apparently nonchalant attitude must have caused Mary even more suffering. “Son, why have you done this to us?” Mary asked. “Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” Jesus’ response was enigmatic at best: “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (73) How was Mary to grasp these words? Dr. Kevin Orlin Johnson suggests that perhaps Jesus was prepared to begin His redemptive work immediately, the instant He became a legal adult (which in Jewish law was at age twelve) and Mary and Joseph were no longer responsible for His actions. (74) Johnson sees Jesus’ question and answer session with the Temple priests and scholars as a challenge to them, one that could get Him in serious trouble. (75) Other self-styled prophets and messiahs had been overthrown and killed not long before, and the Temple priests must “have been troubled to hear such things from yet another man claiming to be the Messiah,” especially One Who was so young. (76) Was Jesus ready to suffer and die for humanity at that very instance? Did Mary know this? Johnson argues that she did and that she decided to delay her Son’s mission for a little while. (77) Johnson continues:

"At her word, Jesus returned with them to Nazareth and obeyed them. Mary’s reason for imposing the delay isn’t clear from the Gospel account. It may have been that she was unwilling to be parted from Jesus at that early age; it may have been that she could not have borne seeing Him crucified at the age of twelve. Certainly, she knew why He had come and what He had to do…[but] the Gospels are abundantly clear on the central points: that Mary did delay Christ’s confrontation with the authorities, and more significant than even this, that He obeyed her." (78)

If Johnson is correct in his interpretation, it seems that Jesus allowed Mary, the Coredemptrix, to make a very important decision. He allowed her to delay His Passion and death. He allowed her to hold on to her Child for a little while longer. In an act of almost unfathomable obedience of God to a human creature, Jesus showed His Mother how important she was in His redemptive plan, how important she was as Coredemptrix, when He a permitted her to take control over His mission and His life.

55. Luke 1:26, 32, 33, NAB.
56. Luke 1:35, NAB. 
57. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 34; Miravalle, “Foundational Presence,” 251.
58. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 35, 37.
59. Manelli, 85.
60. de Margerie, “Spiritual Motherhood,” 204; Fehlner, 301; Miravalle, “Foundational Presence,” 256.
61. Ignance de la Potterie, “The Mediation of the Mother of Jesus at the Incarnation: An Exegetical Study,” in Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate Theological Foundations Towards a Papal Definition?, ed. Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing, 1995), 186.
62. Luke 1:38, NAB.
63. Luke 2:30, 32, NAB.
64. Luke 3:34, 35, NAB.
65. Most, 157-158.
66. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater (Vatican), (accessed July 9, 2008).
67. Ibid.
68. Most, 157.
69. Ibid.
70. Miravalle, “With Jesus”, 40.
71. Most, 158.
72. Manelli, 90; Gribble, 86.
73. Luke 2:48-49, NAB.
74. Kevin Orlin Johnson, Rosary: Mysteries, Meditations, and the Telling of the Beads (Dallas: Pangaeus Press, 2002), 259.
75. Ibid.
76. Ibid., 260
77. Ibid.
78. Ibid., 260-261.

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