Malankara World Journal
Malankara World Journal

Volume 1 No. 22 September 2, 2011
Nativity of St. Mary Special Edition

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Table of Contents
Editor's Note
This is a special abbreviated edition of Malankara World Journal during the Nativity Vigil for the Mother of God. We hope to have one edition of the journal on each day of the vigil.

In the first article, Late Lamented Pope John Paul II, a contemporary Marian scholar talks about the role of Virgin Mary in the formation of Church after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Mary's humility, service and prayer were emulated by the early Christians.

The second feature is an excerpt from an article/sermon by Dr. Self. When we think of the angelic salutation of Mary, we think how lucky she might have been for being "favored by God." But Mary knew otherwise. Like Jesus said later, Christian Life is not a bed of roses, but a wreath of thorns. The favor shown by God is by strengthening us to face adversities in life. Read and see if you agree.

More articles on Virgin Mary can be found in Malankara World Supplement on St. Mary.

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/shunoyo/StMary.htm

Oh ... Morth Mariam Yoldath Aloho (Mother of God) Pray for us.

Mary is Pattern of Churchís Holiness
by Pope John Paul II

The Blessed Virgin is the perfect realization of the Church's holiness and its model.

In every age, Mary is the loving 'Mother of the Church', who prays for the outpouring of the Spiritís gifts and leads the disciples closer to Jesus.

1. After pausing in the previous catecheses to reflect more deeply on the identity and mission of the Church, I now feel the need to turn our gaze to the Blessed Virgin, she who is the perfect realization of the Church's holiness and its model.

2. I would like to take a reflective look at Mary just as, at the Church's beginning, she is described in the Acts of the Apostles. At the beginning of this New Testament text, which describes the life of the first Christian community, and after recording the names of the Apostles one by one (1:13), Luke states: "All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren" (1:14).

The person of Mary stands out clearly in this picture; she is the only one, with the Apostles, mentioned by name. She represents one face of the Church, different from and complementary to the ministerial or hierarchical aspect.

3. In fact, Luke's statement mentions the presence in the Upper Room of some women, thus showing the importance of the feminine contribution to the Church's life from the very beginning. This presence is closely linked to the perseverance of the community in prayer and harmony. These traits perfectly express two basic aspects of women's specific contribution to ecclesial life. Better suited to outward activity, men need women's help to be brought back into personal relationships in order to progress towards the union of hearts.

Mary's role had notable Importance

"Blessed among women" (Lk 1:42), Mary eminently fulfils this feminine mission. Who better than Mary can encourage all believers to persevere in prayer? Who better than she can promote harmony and love?

Recognizing the pastoral mission entrusted by Jesus to the Eleven, the women in the Upper Room, with Mary in their midst, Joined in their prayer and, at the same time, witnessed to the presence in the Church of people who, although they have not received that mission, are likewise fully-fledged members of the community gathered in faith in Christ.

4. Mary's presence in the community which was waiting in prayer for the outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Acts 1 :14), calls to mind her part in the Incarnation of the Son of God by the work of the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 1:35). The Virgin's role in that initial stage and the role she plays now, in the manifestation of the Church at Pentecost, are closely linked.

Mary's presence at the first moments of the Church's life is remarkably highlighted by comparison with her previous, very discreet participation during Jesus' public ministry. When the Son began his mission, Mary remained in Nazareth, even though this separation did not exclude significant contacts such as the one at Cana. Above all, it did not prevent her from taking part in the sacrifice of Calvary.

In the first community, however Mary's role assumes notable importance. After the Ascension and in expectation of Pentecost, Jesus' Mother is personally present at the first stages of the work begun by her Son.

5. The Acts of the Apostles stress that Mary was in the Upper Room "with his [Jesus'] brethren" (Acts 1:14), that is with his relatives, as has always been the Church's interpretation. It was not so much a family gathering as the fact that under Mary's guidance, Jesus' natural family came to be part of Christ's spiritual family: "Whoever does the will of God", Jesus had said, "is my brother and sister, and mother" (Mk 3:35).

On the same occasion, Luke explicitly described Mary as "the mother of Jesus" (Acts 1:14), almost as if he wished to suggest that something of the presence of the Son ascended into heaven has remained in the presence of the mother. She reminded his disciples of Jesus' face and, with her presence in the community, is the symbol of the Church's fidelity to Christ the Lord.

The title of "Mother", in this context, proclaims the attitude of thoughtful closeness with which Our Lady followed the Church's life. Mary was to open her heart to the Church to show the marvels done in her by the almighty and merciful God.

Mary is a teacher of prayer for Christians

From the very beginning, Mary carried out her role as "Mother of the Church": her action encouraged understanding between the Apostles, whom Luke describes as being of "one accord", far from the disputes that had occasionally arisen among them.

Lastly, Mary expressed her motherhood towards the community of believers not only by praying to obtain for the Church the gifts of the Holy Spirit necessary for her formation and her future, but also by teaching the Lord's disciples about constant communion with God.

She thus became the Christian people's teacher of prayer, of encounter with God, a central and indispensable element, so that the work of the Pastors and the faithful would always have its beginning and its inner motivation in the Lord.

6. From these brief remarks it can clearly be seen how the relationship between Mary and the Church is a fascinating comparison between two mothers. It clearly reveals Mary's maternal mission and the Church's commitment ever to seek her true identity in contemplation of the face of the Theotokos.

Source: Reflections on Mary's role in the Church, General Audience of Pope John Paul II on September 6, 1995.

Have I Got News for You!

by Rev. Dr. William L. Self, Alpharetta, GA

God sends help for the long haul, but not the short run. He helps us by strengthening us, not by pampering us. And let's see how he did it for Mary.

The angel promised Mary that she would be favored of God, but yet her baby of Nazareth would grow into a man who must go into a life which she soon discovered would be one of danger. The more powerful people regarded him with hatred. One day the baby would be taken by the priests and rulers of his own nation, accused before a Roman governor, led to a hilltop amongst a jeering crowd, and there to hang on a cross. That was a career which actually would follow the salutation of the angel. That was the favor of God?

It is noted that the angel said to Mary, "Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God." What kind of favor was this? It was not unbroken happiness. She plainly did not get that. If she had measured God's favor by the presence of unbroken happiness, then she would have had to say that it didn't add up. But the truth was deeper than that. For, you see, our culture thinks that God's favor is ease and pleasure and prosperity. In essence, some of this may come from God's favor, but in reality God's favor may have been revealed in things that were desperately hard. But by facing them, she had been strengthened. God gave her character to face life.

God's favor for us may allow some frustration. This throws it back upon us and requires us to develop reserves of courage and endurance which otherwise we might never have known.

God's favor may come through a collision with the evil forces of this world, which will batter and bruise us and almost break our hope.

God's favor for us may be more richly bestowed, not in easy times, but in great challenges, when the real faith is put to a test.

People may think that they are fortunate because they have never been called upon to face great difficulty, but they may end with nothing to show but emptiness. It is the lives that have been given something great to do and to bear, even though they have been bruised in the process, which have truly known the favor of God. The good news is that God is in the difficulty with us, helping us to develop in the process. We are not left alone to endure. Indeed, God's favor does not bring the kind of peace the world expects. God is more concerned with our holiness than our happiness.

Source: Excerpted from a sermon on Luke 1:26-38 delivered on December 18, 2005

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