FR. BEN’S HOMILY FOR TUESDAY OF THE 25TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME CYCLE II
THEME: A SPECIAL MOTHER: A MYSTERIOUS MATERNITY!
BY: Benedict Agbo (Rev Fr)
HOMILY FOR TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 20 2022
*Prov 21 : 1-13, Lk 8 : 19 – 21.
*Why did God decide to incarnate in Mary without normal human sexual Intercourse?* Because divinity was to interface with humanity. Why was Joseph denied his conjugal rights over her wife, Mary and for how long? Because she who he was betrothed to was a special woman reserved for God for ever. And so, I think it makes sense to go with the Catholic position about the divine motherhood and filiation with Mary – *a miraculous motherhood, completely covered by grace, Lk 1: 29 before, during and after the birth of Christ.* Yes, she was so full of grace that she went beyond the maternity protocols of ordinary women; no dissection of hymen, no vaginal /uterine dilation or contraction. How else would the virginity of Mary have combined favourably with her maternity before and after the birth of Jesus?
*If God did all that for her first son, why would he violate all that subsequently? Why would Mary now go the way of other women when ‘of all women she is most blessed?’, Lk 1: 42.* I think it makes sense for us to understand that *what makes her different from other women is her mysterious maternity, before, during and after the birth of Christ. She didn’t need to have other children.* The Bible didn’t state that clearly. But it was implied in the great hand over of Mary to the beloved disciple John which Jesus did even while hanging on the Cross. John thereafter took her to his home because Mary had no other children, Jn 19: 27.
Jesus tells us today: ‘My mother and my brethren (not biological siblings) are those who hear the Word of God and keep it’. *Jesus wants certainly not to downgrade his mother Mary but to upgrade her dignity beyond physical /biological motherhood to the spiritual motherhood of all believers in Christ.* Of course, Mary was the first among those who heard the Word of God and kept it, Lk 1: 38. *Hers was a spiritual specie of motherhood; a motherhood by faith, humility, chastity and all other virtues – not just a motherhood by blood. What a mysterious maternity!* We become the children of God and children of Mary by imitating her virtues. We become brothers and sisters of Jesus, Rev 12: 17 today by hearing the Word of God and doing it.
Religion gets deceptive each time it assumes special privileges accruing from membership of adherents to special ritual prayer/ sacrifice. These prayers must always be seen as means to an end and not the end themselves. Today’s liturgical readings remind us that right actions are more important than belonging to the right religion. Blood relationships/ religious relationships matter little if there is no virtue. *I see a lot of parallelism in these two statements from the 1st reading and the gospel: ‘To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice’ is a parallel statement with: ‘My mother and brethren are those who hear the Word of God and do it’.*
Mary is seen by today’s gospel theologically as the model of the Church; a new family of friends of God. *She is the mother of all the redeemed – those who hear the Word of God and keep it.* We don’t have much to benefit from Mary’s physical or biological motherhood of Jesus. When a woman from the crowd wanted to emphasize that: ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breast that you sucked’, Jesus told her and us that what we should emphasize more is her spiritual motherhood as the mother of ‘those who hear the Word of God and keep it’, Lk 11: 27. He didn’t fail to hand Mary over to us (through John his beloved apostle) as our mother when he was departing on the Cross: ‘Mother, behold your son, Son, behold your mother’, Jn 19: 27.
For me, one of the greatest reasons why Christianity is producing less fruits today is the *distancing of believers from the true practical teachings of Christ.* *Christ said: ‘By their fruits we shall know them’ but many are saying: ‘By their preachings we shall know them’… By their denominations and doctrines we shall know them’.* The preachings, doctrines and denominations are very important as means to an end not as the end itself. May we learn to relate with Mary as the mother of the new family of friends of God – those who hear the Word of God and do it! May God bless you today!