Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Carving: They met on the Road to Emmaus
Reading 1 2 THES 1:1-5, 11-12
in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters,
as is fitting, because your faith flourishes ever more,
and the love of every one of you for one another grows ever greater.
Accordingly, we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God
regarding your endurance and faith in all your persecutions
and the afflictions you endure.This is evidence of the just judgment of God,
so that you may be considered worthy of the Kingdom of God
for which you are suffering.We always pray for you,
that our God may make you worthy of his calling
and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose
and every effort of faith,
that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you,
and you in him,
in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.
Responsorial Psalm PS 96:1-2A, 2B-3, 4-5
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R. Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
For great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
awesome is he, beyond all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are things of nought,
but the LORD made the heavens.
R. Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Alleluia JN 10:27
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel MT 23:13-22
Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men.
You do not enter yourselves,
nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You traverse sea and land to make one convert,
and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna
twice as much as yourselves.
“Woe to you, blind guides, who say,
‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’
Blind fools, which is greater, the gold,
or the temple that made the gold sacred?
And you say, ‘If one swears by the altar, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.’
You blind ones, which is greater, the gift,
or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it;
one who swears by the temple swears by it
and by him who dwells in it;
one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God
and by him who is seated on it.”
Where do you stand in your faith? Is your faith more like that of the scribes and Pharisees or that of the early Christians in Thessalonica? The answer to this question determines our happiness in this life and hereafter for the warning of Jesus is this, “Alas for you … you hypocrites! You who shut up the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces, neither going in yourselves nor allowing others to go in who want to.”
What then is wrong with the so called faith of the scribes and Pharisees? Their faith was merely an intellectual and legalistic faith. Perhaps, it would not even be right to call it faith! More correctly, their faith was a religion in so far as one uses religion to fulfill one’s selfish interests. In the first place, their faith in God was based on merit. They did not believe in grace. They believed one can earn his place in the eyes of God. The corollary of this is that even when they obeyed the laws of God or when they performed good works, it was done more out of selfish interests than out of pure love for God and for others, since such works were done simply to accumulate merits. For those who were less authentic, good works were not motivated by love but by egoism or at most, by fear of rejection.
This explains why they sought ways to circumvent the laws by rationalizing them or finding loopholes in the laws so that they could break them without being faulted. Religion then became like a game of rules. Observe the rules and you will be saved. The spirit of the laws is forgotten.
Conversely, one can observe the laws so strictly without taking into the peculiar circumstances that it becomes ludicrous and even unjust. This is how civil lawyers try to get their clients out of trouble. So long as they can circumvent the letter of the law, they are not guilty. That is why, at times, one wonders how just the laws are as it depends on whether one engages a good legal counsel to fight the case. A good lawyer can often go round the law to get us out of trouble. So it is not just a matter of whether one is guilty or innocent, but about having someone present our case convincingly before the judge who is obliged to judge based on the facts presented within the limits of the laws.
Jesus exposed their insincerity in the way they fulfilled the Laws. He cited the ludicrous attempts of the Jews to avoid any obligation to their promises made to God by splitting hairs over when a promise would be considered valid. When Moses gave them the Laws, it was meant to help them to live a life of love and harmony. If observing the law makes us less loving, then the purpose of the law is defeated. Laws are not observed for laws’ sake but for the service of love. Otherwise, such observance of the law is mere hypocrisy.
If Jesus’ words appeared to be harsh, it was not spoken in anger but in compassion for them, for as religious leaders, not only were they misleading their flock, but they would also miss out on the life of the kingdom. We must not be misled into thinking that Jesus’ reprimand of the scribes and Pharisees lacked love. On the contrary, at the end of the same chapter of the gospel we read Jesus lamenting, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Mt 23:37-39)
For Jesus, everything is done in the name of love and for love.
Similarly, we have the exemplary and lively faith of the Thessalonians. These Christians knew little about their faith, for we will read later how they misunderstood the second coming of Christ. However, they were people docile to the Spirit, open to the Word of God and sincere in living out the gospel life. St Paul was full of admiration for them when he wrote how he constantly thanked God for how they “have shown (their) faith in action, worked for love and persevered through hope, in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The faith of the Thessalonians was not simply an intellectual faith, but a faith that acts. In the first place, St Paul commended them, “We know, brothers, that God loves you and that you have been chosen, because when we brought the Good News to you, it came to you not only as words, but as power and as the Holy Spirit and as utter conviction.” In other words, they surrendered in obedience to the preaching of the apostles and accepted their words as from God in faith. This was demonstrated in the way they broke with idolatry, the worship of false gods. They might not be schooled in theology and scriptures, but in their simplicity, they accepted the teaching of the apostles as the Word of God.
Secondly, this faith in God was demonstrated in right living, as St Paul praised them saying, “You observed the sort of life we lived when we were with you, which was for your instruction” and how “When you were converted to God and became servants of the real, living God.” In other words, they became servants of God and of each other in animated charity. Theirs was not simply faith in God but for this faith to be real and true it must issue in love. This was what they did. They put their faith into action by works of charity.
Thirdly, this faith was a faith that lived in hope, for they were waiting in hope for the coming of Jesus to save them from retribution. The early Christians were so full of faith that in their simplicity, they thought that the Second Coming was near. They were willing to abandon everything for the hope that was before them. Faith, therefore, is the basis of hope. Without faith, hope would be weak and be reduced to mere wishful thinking. A firm hope must be rooted in faith and our faith is not in oneself but in God who alone can restore the world and redeem us. Because of the surety of the hope before them, they could continue to love and give themselves to others even when they had to suffer for Christ.
What about us? Is our faith animated by charity and strengthened by hope? Or do we give up easily and become disillusioned in times of difficulties and trials? We must evaluate our faith seriously today. Has my faith in God grown each day? Do I trust in God more and more in living out my vocation in life? Is this faith expressed in a growing charity manifested in generosity, kindness and compassion both for the poor, the marginalized and for members of the community? Is our faith lived beyond this world and do we have a persevering hope in Jesus, especially in those moments when we face crises in our faith or in our struggles to be faithful in carrying our daily cross after Jesus? Most of all, have we become more sensitive to sin in our lives so that we can grow in holiness and charity?
As St Paul said, “We know, brothers, that God loves you and that you have been chosen.” Indeed, the key to a real living faith is to know that we are loved by the Lord and chosen by Him. Only when we have experienced His love can we then in turn be empowered to love and continue to hope in Him, especially when trials come into our lives. Yes, only this kind of faith can save us. We can love God more and more when we know that He loves us because faith is the foundation of love and also the basis for the augmentation of love. When we open ourselves to someone in faith, love will soon develop. As we love, we learn to trust a person even more. So faith and love accompanies each other and strengthens each other. A legalistic faith will only make us self-righteous and unable to love freely from our hearts. Let us pray that the faith of the Thessalonians will also be ours as we open our lives to Him in faith.
Written by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
First Thoughts From Peace and Freedom
In yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter, but will not be strong enough.” (Luke 13:24)
Part of this process is understanding who we are as human beings — all the good we can do and all the mistakes we can make!
But we don’t stop there. Throughout our lives, Jesus expects us to get better and better. Our journey may be a tough one — but He promises all the support and help he can give, plus the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit” inside of us as we encounter tougher and tougher challenges.
From Bishop Robert Barron — “Strive to enter through the narrow gate”
To gain eternal life is to participate to the fullest degree possible in the very life of God. It is to walk the path of love, surrendering to grace and allowing this grace to flow through you to the wider world. Is this an easy task? No. The Gospel of Luke tells reminds us that the gate is narrow precisely because it is in the very shape of Jesus Himself, and entrance through the gate involves conformity to his state of being. The path of love is traveled by taking up one’s cross every day.
Commentary on 2 Thess 1:1-5, 11-12 From Living Space
After eight weeks reading from the Old Testament prophets, we return today to the New Testament. For the next three days we will be reading from the Second Letter of Paul to the Christians at Thessalonika in northern Greece.
Today we begin the first of three readings from the Second Letter to the Thessalonians.
Although this letter is usually ascribed to Paul, there are serious doubts about him being its real author or that it was actually directed to the Christians of Thessalonika, a city in Macedonia, north of Greece. Nevertheless, it has always been a part of the recognised canon and we can read it with confidence as speaking God’s word to us.
The letter opens traditionally with the names of its claimed authors: Paul, with two of his helpers, Silvanus and Timothy, and its adressee, the Christian community, the church, in Thessalonika.
There follows a Christian prayer of grace, peace and thanksgiving to God the Father and the Lord Jesus.
The writers are full of gratitude to God because of the marvellous growth of faith and mutual love among the Thessalonian Christians, even though they are aware of some shortcomings also.
The Thessalonians are congratulated for standing out among the churches for their perseverance in spite of the persecutions and troubles they have had to face. This was a source of special pride for Paul and the other founders of this church and they were not ashamed to boast of it. Paul seems to imply that it was somewhat unusual for the founders of a church to boast about this, though others might do so. However, the Thessalonians were so outstanding in this regard that Paul departed from his normal practice.
It shows that God, in allowing them to go through these trials, was right. He gave them the resources they needed and they rose to the occasion and proved themselves “worthy of the kingdom of God”. He provided strength to endure and this in turn produced spiritual and moral character. Their sufferings are precisely for the promotion of the Kingdom as they give faithful witness to Jesus and the Gospel.
The passage ends with a lovely prayer that God will fulfil the Thessalonians’ “desires for goodness” and bring to completion all that they have been doing through faith in Christ. God initiates every good purpose and every act prompted by faith; Paul prays accordingly that he will bring these to fulfilment.
“We pray…that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you.” In ancient times one’s name was often more than a personal label; it summed up what a person was. Paul is praying that the name, that is, the person of the Lord Jesus will be given glory in them and they in him through the love of God and the Lord Jesus poured into their hearts.
As we read this passage we may reflect on a number of things:
a. Can it be said that our faith and mutual love, individually and collectively, are constantly growing?
b. How do we behave and respond when our Christian faith is challenged, attacked or rubbished? Do we stand up or do we go into hiding? Do we hit back or pray for those who attack us?
c. Can we see that the trials and setbacks of life are ways by which God is challenging the depth of our faith and calling for a deeper response of love and service?
22 AUGUST 2016, Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary
SHARING IN THE QUEENSHIP OF MARY
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Isaiah 9:1-6; Luke 1:26-38]
Following the proclamation of the dogma of the Assumption in 1950, the feast of the Queenship of Mary was instituted in 1955 by Pope Pius XII and was then celebrated on 31st May. The reformed liturgy has transferred the celebration of this feast to a week after the feast of the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into heaven. This means that the Church intends us to link the Assumption with the Queenship of Mary to her glorification. In Lumen Gentium 59, the Constitution says, “The Immaculate Virgin … was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of Lords (cf. Rev 19:16) and conqueror of sin and death.”
Hence, it is clear that the feast of the Queenship of Mary is the corollary to the Assumption. This explains why it is celebrated as the Octave to the Assumption. The Assumption of Mary speaks of Mary’s entire being being taken up into heaven, but it is the feast of the Queenship of Mary that elaborates what this truly means. The glorification of Mary is not just the glorification of the body and soul of Mary but it entails her participation in the life of Christ. In the light of the revelation, the Church came to realize that it would be only appropriate that Mary be proclaimed as having been assumed into heaven and given the queenship, since the whole life of Mary has been nothing short of a total participation of the saving work of Christ from the incarnation to the resurrection.
What kind of life would that be? To answer this question, we must return to the Feast of Easter and Ascension. At the Resurrection, Jesus was given new life when He was raised from the dead. The Resurrection was the glorification of the body of Jesus. Needless to say, the Resurrection was followed by the Ascension. What is the distinction between the Resurrection and the Ascension, since both are actually a twofold event of glorification? In the Ascension, Christ was established Lord and King of the Universe. In this way, His mission is complete because He is made Lord and King.
So if we were to understand the significance of the Queenship of Mary, then we must correlate it with the feast of the Ascension. In truth, except for the word “being taken up”, the Assumption of Mary is more akin to the Feast of the Resurrection of Jesus than Ascension. This is because the outcome of the Assumption is Mary’s sharing in the reign of Christ’s kingship over sin and death.
That this is the intention is brought out in today’s scripture readings. Both scripture readings underscore that Christ would be the future messianic King of David. Indeed, the whole mission of Jesus was to restore the reign of God that was destroyed by sin. The proclamation of Jesus was basically that of the Kingdom of God. In fact, Jesus is the embodiment of the kingdom.
How did Jesus proclaim the Kingdom? Firstly, Jesus showed His kingship by giving Himself freely for the service of the Kingdom. He surrendered Himself entirely to the mission even until death. Before Pilate, He showed Himself to be one who determined His life and would not easily succumb to political or religious pressures. To be free for the service of the Kingdom implies that Jesus must be king, since He was in charge of Himself.
Secondly, Jesus proclaimed the reign of God by demonstrating in Himself the presence of God in Him. Through His works of compassion and through His authoritative teaching, Jesus manifested Himself to be the Word and Compassion of the Father.
Thirdly, the kingship of Jesus is vindicated by His resurrection, since with the Resurrection sin and death are defeated.
If we find the Queenship of Mary sounding archaic, then we must understand Mary’s Queenship in today’s context and that of Christ’s Kingship of which Mary shares. The Queenship of Mary is to be understood in terms of grace, discipleship and apostleship. If Mary is queen, it is because she allowed the grace of God to reign in her life. She was able to resist temptation and sin. For this reason, she is called full of grace. Secondly, she was a perfect disciple of the Lord and of the kingdom, always doing the will of the Lord as the gospel tells us. To do the will of God is true freedom, since freedom is the power to do good and to determine one’s life. She was truly free. In her life of compassion and love, she showed herself to be truly a disciple of the kingdom. Thirdly, if Mary is queen it is because she shared in the salvific work of Christ. She cooperated fully with the Lord in the salvation of humankind, from the incarnation to the passion and resurrection. She was truly an apostle of the Kingdom. Finally, Mary is queen because she now lives on to intercede for us. She is with us in our pilgrimage.
We who share in the kingship of Christ, like Mary, are called to be kings and queens so that we can bring about the realization of the Kingdom. We are empowered to restore the temporal order to the dignity of the plan of God. This is clearly our calling today, especially when there is a crisis in morality in the world. As a result of secularization and relativism, there is a desensitization to sin. Only when the world lives according to the gospel values of the Kingdom, can we claim that Christ’s kingship is established on earth as in heaven.
But if we are to help others to exercise their kingship and queenship, then we must first exercise dominion over ourselves. We must show ourselves to be people who can exercise self-control and self-discipline in our lifestyle and have the power to overcome sin and temptations in life. If we have no control over ourselves, how can we control others? If we cannot manage our own life, how can we manage the lives of people under our care? Hence, it is important today that we pray to Mary and imitate her in her Queenship by being more open to the grace of God at work in us, cooperating with His grace to do His will and to live the life of the Kingdom by a life of good works, charity, honesty and integrity. Like Mary who was without sin through the grace of God, we who have received our sonship through baptism must also cooperate with the grace of God in our lives so that by preserving ourselves from sin, we too can share in her triumph over the Evil One. With the help of Mary, we must try to overcome sin in our lives so that the reign of God may be manifested in us. In this way, we will one day share the Kingship of Christ and the Queenship of Mary.Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore . http://www.catholic.sg/22-august-2016-queenship-blessed-virgin-mary/ . **************************** . . In this feast, particularly cherished by the Popes of modern times, we celebrate Mary as the Queen of Heaven and Earth.
Pope Pius XII in the Papal Encyclical Ad Coeli Reginam proposed the traditional doctrine on the Queenship of Mary and established this feast for the Universal Church.
Pope Pius IX said of Mary’s queenship: “Turning her maternal Heart toward us and dealing with the affair of our salvation, she is concerned with the whole human race. Constituted by the Lord Queen of Heaven and earth, and exalted above all choirs of Angels and the ranks of Saints in Heaven, standing at the right hand of Her only-begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, she petitions most powerfully with Her maternal prayers, and she obtains what she seeks.”
And Pope Pius XII added the following: “We commend that on the festival there be renewed the consecration of the human race to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Upon this there is founded a great hope that there will rejoice in the triumph of religion and in Christian peace…
…Therefore, let all approach with greater confidence now than before, to the throne of mercy and grace of our Queen and Mother to beg help in difficultly, light in darkness and solace in trouble and sorrow…
. . Whoever, therefore, honors the lady ruler of the Angels and of men – and let no one think themselves exempt from the payment of that tribute of a grateful and loving soul – let them call upon her as most truly Queen and as the Queen who brings the blessings of peace, that She may show us all, after this exile, Jesus, who will be our enduring peace and joy.”. http://www.intothedeepblog.net/2014/08/queenship-of-mary.html
Tags: 2 THES 1:1-5 11-12, and by him who is seated on it, August 22 2016, by him who dwells in it, circumvent the letter of the law, endurance and faith in all your persecutions and the afflictions you endure, entrance through the narrow gate involves conformity to our state of being, Gehenna, God our Father, Gospel of Luke, gratitude, gratitude to God, Holy Spirit, humility, indwelling, indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Jn 10:27, kingdom of God, Lord Jesus Christ, Luke 13:24, Mt 23:13-22, My sheep hear my voice says the Lord, narrow gate, one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God, our God may make you worthy of his calling, Prayer and Meditation, prayer that God will fulfil the Thessalonians’ “desires for goodness”, Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations, Psalm 96, Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, scribes and Pharisees you hypocrites, suffering, the gate is narrow precisely because it is in the very shape of Jesus Himself, the just judgment of God, Thessalonians, We ought to thank God always for you, Woe to you, Woe to you blind guides