03 February 2018

Blessed Is She Who Believes the Word of God

This Word of our Lord confirms what His servant St. Luke has demonstrated from the beginning of the Holy Gospel — that the Virgin St. Mary is doubly blessed.  She who conceived and bore the very Son of God within her womb, who nursed Him at her breast and nurtured Him in childhood, also heard the Word of God, believed it and confessed it, and kept it in holy faith and love.  She is the first and foremost of all saints, who treasured these things and pondered them in her heart.

There is no competition between the blessings of the Blessed Virgin.  That she became the Mother of God by His Word and Spirit does not exclude but invites her fear, love, and trust in Him who remains her Creator and Lord even as He becomes her Child, the Fruit of her womb.  He is her own Savior and her God, even as He becomes and remains forevermore her own dearly-beloved Son.

Blessed is she both in faith and in love within her vocation and station and life, as you also are blessed by God’s Word and faith and by His calling within your own office and your place in life.

She is highly favored by the Lord, as He declares to her through the Archangel Gabriel.  She is the object of His grace and mercy, and she becomes the specially chosen instrument of His peace.  As a true daughter of Abraham, both according to the flesh and according to faith in the promises of God, she is holy and righteous in the presence of the Lord.  And His Word is fulfilled in her — for you and for all people — as she conceives and bears the promised Seed of Abraham in her body.

It was that same Word of God, made flesh of her flesh and blood of her blood, which she also kept and pondered in her heart by faith, as in her body by grace.  To that Word she submitted herself, and by that Word she lived.  She learned from her Son, as you are likewise taught, to pray to God, “Thy Will Be Done.”  “Behold the servant of the Lord.”  “Let it be to me according to Thy Word!”

St. Mary’s confession, her prayer, and her faithfulness are exemplary throughout all generations.

Thus do we give thanks to God the Father for this Blessed Virgin, this sainted Mother of His Son, our dear Lord Jesus Christ.  For she is most assuredly a gift of His grace for our salvation.  From the Garden of Eden to the Resurrection of the dead and the Life everlasting, she is the Woman whose Seed has crushed the head of the serpent, that old dragon who is called the devil and Satan.

We are strengthened in our faith by the mercy of God toward St. Mary of Nazareth, as also by His mercy toward all the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve in giving Himself to us poor sinners as her own dear Son in the flesh.  For it is by His great mercy and not according to any human merit.

And again, we are strengthened in our own life and in the works of our callings by the example of St. Mary.  For she has done exactly as she has advised: “Whatever the Lord says to you, do it!”

Beyond all that, in a special way, we see in the Blessed Virgin Mary a living icon of the Church, the Bride of Christ, the Woman who conceives and gives birth to the children of God by His Word and Holy Spirit.  To that blessed, holy Church you also belong by the grace and mercy of God in Christ Jesus.  Indeed, your Holy Baptism and your faith and life in Christ are no less miraculous and merciful than the conception and birth of the Lord Jesus Himself.

And the life to which you are called is lived under the Cross in the hope of the Resurrection, no less than St. Mary’s entire life was lived in the shadow of the Cross of Christ, her Son.  She, like you, was given to rely upon and cling to the promise of His Resurrection.  And so was she, like you, sustained in her faith and saved from sin and death by the fulfillment of that sweet promise.

We are not wrong to consider the “passion” of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  For God the Holy Spirit prophesied through Simeon that a great Sword would pierce her own soul on account of Christ, her Son.  This Child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, not least of all His own dear Mother, St. Mary.  Her sufferings and her sorrows save no one, not even herself.  But sufferings and sorrows there were throughout her life.  Long before she would stand at the foot of the Cross, she bore the Cross in her vocation as the Mother of the One who would be crucified.

And yet, together with the whole Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been crucified for our transgression and raised for our justification, blessed is she under His Cross.  Indeed, blessed is she by the Cross, unto the Resurrection of her body and the Life everlasting of her body and soul in the crucified and risen Body of her Son.

Blessed is she among women!  More blessed, indeed, is the Fruit of her womb.  For her Son, Jesus, is her own Savior as well as yours.  He is the promised Seed of the Woman, the Seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Seed of Judah and of David, in whom all the nations of the world are blessed.

To bear this Seed, this Fruit of her womb, is surely her great work of love within her vocation, all by the grace and choosing of God.  Not that she deserved it, but that she did it by holy faith, by the strength that God provided through His Word and Holy Spirit.  So are you also called to live and to love, to serve your neighbor in peace, and to bear the fruits of faith in Christ within your place.

To be sure, they are great and mighty things that God has done for His handmaiden, the Blessed Virgin Mary; and not for her only, but through her for you and for all the children of men.

It is all the more remarkable and marvelous that her singular blessing as the Mother of God — her unique blessing as the Woman who bore the incarnate Son of God and nursed the infant Lord Jesus at her breast — that blessing which belongs to her alone is exceeded by the blessing that you and all the baptized are granted to share with her in Him whom she bore for us men and our salvation.

As you have heard from the lips of Jesus Himself this morning, that greater blessing is to hear the Word of God and to keep it.  To treasure all these things by faith; to ponder them in your heart and mind, in your prayer and confession; and to live according to the Word and promises of God in Christ Jesus, in the confidence that He is faithful and that He will surely do what He has spoken.

To be and to live as such a child of God, by such faith in Christ, the Word-made-Flesh, is finally and forevermore a surpassingly greater grace and blessing than even to be the Mother of God!

And all the more so shall we say that she is blessed indeed who is both the Mother and a child!

For she became the Mother, so that you also might become a child of God in Christ, her Son.  Through her He became like us, of the same flesh and blood as your own, so that, through Him, you should become like God and share with St. Mary and all saints in the Kingdom of His Father.

It is true that none of you will ever become the Mother of God.  St. Mary alone is blessed in that way, for which we give all thanks and praise to her Son, Jesus, and for which we rightly honor her on account of Him.  But here for you is something even better:

As God the Son received St. Mary’s flesh and blood and made it His own, conceived and born as true Man within her womb, so does He give His Body and His Blood to you.  As He nursed at her breast, so does He feed you at His Altar with His own flesh, by and with His Word.  Thus does He abide in you, and you in Him, both body and soul, unto the Resurrection and the Life everlasting.

Blessed are you who believe what He says!  For so shall it be to you according to His Word!

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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