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Archive for August 15th, 2018

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O higher than the cherubim,
More glorious than the seraphim,
Lead their praises, Alleluia!
Thou Bearer of the eternal Word,
Most gracious, magnify the Lord,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

(The Lutheran Hymnal, “Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones”, #475)

The Mother of the Lord:  

St. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is mentioned repeatedly in the Gospels and the Book of Acts, with nearly a dozen of specific incidents in her life being recorded: 

  • her betrothal to Joseph;

  • the annunciation by the angel Gabriel that she was to be the mother of the Messiah;

  • her visitation to Elizabeth,

  • the mother of John the Baptizer;

  • the nativity of our Lord;

  • the visits of the shepherds and the Wise Men;

  • the presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple;

  • the flight into Egypt;

  • the Passover visit to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve; the wedding at Cana in Galilee;

  • her presence at the crucifixion, when her Son commended her to the care of His disciple John;

  • and her gathering with the apostles in the Upper Room after the ascension, waiting for the promised Holy Spirit.                                                                                                    

Thus she is present at most of the important events in her Son’s life. She is especially remembered and honored for her unconditional obedience to the will of God (“Let it be to me according to Your word” [Luke 1:38]); for her loyalty to her Son even when she did not understand Him (“Do whatever He tells you” [John 2:1-11]); and above all for the highest honor that heaven bestowed on her of being the mother of our Lord (“Blessed are you among women” [Luke 1:42]). According to tradition, Mary went with the apostle John to Ephesus, where she died. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

St. Luke 1 

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. (emphasis added)

St. Luke in his Gospel and in his history of the early church, Acts of the Apostles, has the most complete references to the virgin Mary.  Therefore it has been speculated for centuries  that one of the “eyewitnesses” that St. Luke consulted was none other than the Blessed Virgin Mary herself.  For what it’s worth, I think this is reasonable.  

Even more important than identifying Luke’s eyewitnesses, according the texts of all four Gospels, plus Acts, Mary was present and she was a witness, an eyewitness, to her Son Jesus Christ.  She was a faithful and true witness to all of her Son’s life, death, resurrection, ascension and His giving of the life-giving Holy Spirit.  She saw with her eyes the angel Gabriel as he brought the message that she would be with Child.  She saw Him born!  She saw their guests at the manger, the shepherds and the Magi.  She and her husband watched their Son grow up and they took Him every year to Jerusalem for Passover…of course, I could go on.  The result of her first witness,after the angel Gabriel’s Annunciation, was praise:  My soul doth magnify the Lord.   Her whole life of witness was to magnify, make big the Lord for others to see.

Mary’s witness is our witness.  Christians will speak of giving, “their witness to Jesus”, though with our physical eyes we have not seen Him.  As another faithful witness to the Lord, the Apostle Peter, wrote:  

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.(1 Peter 1)

How did they come to such faith without seeing?  Answer:  The Word of God was preached to them and the Holy Spirit created faith.  Americans in particular like to say, “seeing is believing”, but the Scripture passage above points us to the fact that believing is greater than seeing.  As the Lord Himself said to Thomas, Peter and the Apostles, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (St. John 20). Our witness is the borrowed witness of belief or faith. It is based upon the faithful witness of Mary and many others to the earthly and heavenly ministry of Jesus Christ.

Many saw Jesus in His earthly ministry but did not believe and lay hold of the promises of God fulfilled in Christ Jesus.  They thought they could save themselves or didn’t need saving.  Not St. Mary.  Her Son is her Savior as well.   Faith does not point to faith but to Jesus Christ.  Whether faith is weak or strong, it is nevertheless faith, the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit also conceives Christ within us in the hearing of the Word of God.  Mary is mother of faith which points to her Son.  She is quite transparent. Her witness is to her Son and her instruction is for us as well:  “Do whatever he tells you” (St. John 2: 5). Mary did not seek praise for herself. She praised the Lord because of His favor toward her and she gives her witness in praise and adoration:

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name. (St. Luke 2)

Our witness can do no less than to magnify the Lord, in the favor He shown us in His Son Jesus through His crucifixion and resurrection and magnify Him in word and deed and this done only through Him, with Him and in Him.

Let us pray:  

Almighty God, You chose the virgin Mary to be the mother of Your only Son. Grant that we, who are redeemed by His blood, may share with her in the glory of Your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Lord, still our hearts and minds in the Sabbath of Your forgiveness by which You have redeemed us from the old way of death to live and breathe in Your life, Your life which You first gave to Your Mother, that this dark world know You have come into our world for us and for our salvation. Amen.

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