Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 28, 2002
The last half of the Hail Mary
By FR. JOHN SPICER
"Holy Mary Mother of God"
What does it mean to be holy? Essentially, holiness is doing God's will. And what is God's will? It is to take up the invitation of Jesus, "Come, follow me."
Thus the road to Christian holiness is, as St. Paul writes, "to put on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 13:14). This is a life-long task and it will be somewhat different for each of us because of our talents, abilities and state of life.
Mary, above all of us, did God's will. As she said to the angel Gabriel, "Be it done to me according to your will." And God's will for Mary was to give birth to Jesus, to help in his upbringing and later, to follow him. This Mary did.
What about the title "Mother of God?" Since God existed from all eternity, how could Mary be his mother? The fact is the child conceived in Mary was truly God. Hence, in bearing Jesus, Mary was truly the mother of the one who was God.
This became a dogma of our faith at the Council of Ephesus in the year 431. What does this honour for Mary mean for us? It means a great deal. For God, through Mary, became one of us.
So how important we must be! How helpful to know that God came into our midst and lived a human life just as we do. One might say, "But he was God." True, but also true is the fact he was fully human.
Moreover, as St. Paul said, "For our sake, he (God) made Jesus to be sin who knew no sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (Romans 5:21)
"Pray for us sinners . . ." True, we are sinners. From the very beginning we went astray. But as her Son loves us despite our sins, so does Mary.
". . . now and at the hour of our death. Amen." We need Mary's help at all times in our lives but especially at the crucial time of our death, for our eternity depends on that crucial time.
So in asking Mary to pray for us in life and at death, we are asking her to obtain for us the gift of perseverance, that is, pursuing to the end of our lives the challenge of "putting on the Lord Jesus Christ."
And remember that Jesus' last words in the Gospel of Luke were, "Father into your hands I commend my spirit." With Mary's help, these can also be our own last words.
In the next column, we will look at the short prayer we call the "Glory be," wherein we praise the Trinity.
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