Malankara World Journal
Malankara World Journal

Shunoyo (Assumption of St. Mary) Special

Volume 2 No. 90 August 14, 2012

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Shunoyo/Assumption of St. Mary
Shunoyo/Assumption
Table of Contents
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1. Malankara World Shunoyo Supplement

Wednesday, August 15 is the Shunoyo (Soonoyo) Perunnal. This is the day, we believe that St. Mary has departed from this world. The church fathers teach us that the Mother of God was assumed to heaven after her death. This is a very important feast for us. Malankara World has a Supplement for Shunoyo Perunnal that covers the feast from various perspectives. Please read the Shunoyo Supplement for further study:

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

2. Bible Readings for Shunoyo

Shunoyo/The Assumption of St. Mary (August 15)

3. Sermons for Shunoyo

Sermons for Shunoyo (Assumption) of St. Mary

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_shunoyo.htm

More Articles, Historical References, Homilies and Sermons on Shunoyo Feast can be found in Malankara World Supplement for Shunoyo Feast.

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/shunoyo/Default.htm

4. Inspiration for Today

5. Featured: Virgin Mary - In the Syrian Orthodox Faith

Throughout the Old Testament we can see the promise of a Messiah, Who is going to be born from a Virgin. It is so clear and vivid in Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. "Many of the Jewish princess and noble virgin girls had desired to receive this Messiah. But quite contrary to their wish, God chose a very poor and humble virgin in the house of David who was from the tribe of Judah. ...

6. St. Mary, Mother of God

Mary appears in the New Testament first when the Angel Gabriel announces the message of the favor of God (Luke 1: 28). Then Mary is seen, when Jesus was dedicated in the Jerusalem temple for naming (Luke 2:21-22), when they went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover (Luke 2:41-42), at the wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1), when a multitude was listening to Jesus (Mark 2:31), at the cross of Jesus (John 19:25) and when Mary together with disciples (Acts 1:14) was praying in the upper room (St. Mark, Jerusalem). The role and virtues of St. Mary, the Mother of God, can be gauged from these verses in the Bible. ...

7. Devotion to St. Mary Pleases God

Devotion to the most Blessed Virgin, Mother of God is so pleasing to her Son, and is so dear and commendable to all true Christians, that it is not necessary to recommend it to those who desire to lead a Christian life.

I shall only tell you that you must never separate what God has so perfectly united. So closely are Jesus and Mary bound up with each other that whoever beholds Jesus sees Mary; whoever loves Jesus, loves Mary; whoever has devotion to Jesus, has devotion to Mary. Jesus and Mary are the two first foundations of the Christian religion, the two living springs of all our blessings, the two centers of all our devotion, and the two objectives you should keep in view in all your acts and works. ...

8. Secret Of Sanctity, Like That Of Mary, Is Humility

John Paul II said that Jesus made the road to sanctity very clear in the Gospel: the beatitudes. The Holy Father went on to describe the "poor in spirit," the "afflicted," the "pure of heart," those who "have hunger and thirst for justice," the "merciful," and those who "bring peace."

The last mentioned is the "synthesis of messianic goods," he said. "In a world that reflects tremendous antagonisms and exclusions, it is necessary to promote fraternal coexistence inspired in love and the capacity to share, overcoming enmities and oppositions." ...

9. Mother of Mercy

Mary obtained mercy in a particular and exceptional way, as no other person has. At the same time, still in an exceptional way, she made possible with the sacrifice of her heart her own sharing in revealing God's mercy. This sacrifice is intimately linked with the cross of her Son, at the foot of which she was to stand on Calvary. Her sacrifice is a unique sharing in the revelation of mercy, that is, a sharing in the absolute fidelity of God to His own love, to the covenant that He willed from eternity and that He entered into in time with man, with the people, with humanity; it is a sharing in that revelation that was definitively fulfilled through the cross.  ...

10. Pope Explains What Mary's Assumption Means

"John the Baptist in the womb is dancing before the ark, like David," he said. "Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant, before which the heart leaps for joy at the Mother of God in the world."

Men and women today, the Pope said, are also the recipients of Gods love and must do as Mary did: accept Christ in faith, be enlightened and guided by his word, and follow him every day. ...

11. Here is Your Son. Here is Your Mother

So for me, Mary is a model of mothering for all of us. Every child needs a great mother. There is no other occupation in the world that compares to quality mothering from birth to death. I personally had such a great mother, and I sometimes believe the greatest human gift that God ever gave to me was a fine mother. As the book of Proverbs says, a fine mother is more valuable than jewels.

Hanging from the cross at Golgotha, with two thieves at his either side, with hecklers below the cross, Jesus was also surrounded by the love of two people who loved him most here on earth. His mother and his best friend. In his last act of compassion, Jesus focused on their needs and asked them to take care of each other in the future. They did. ...

12. Jesus' Care For His Mother

Mary's example challenges us first of all to:

A. Have Steadfast Devotion for Your Children - The thousands whom Jesus had fed, healed, blessed, and comforted had turned awaybut His mother was there near Him. Mary showed her love and devotion to the very end. They convicted Him of blasphemy, but she still believed that He was the promised Messiah. She & the other faithful followers at the cross exhibited the words of the Song of Solomon: "love is as strong as death. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it" (8:6-7).

You know, you can usually count on your mother to stand by you, even when others won't. Isn't it wonderful to have a mother like that, who will stand by you through thick and thin? How can we not fully appreciate the heart of a mother! ...

13. About Malankara World

Malankara World Shunoyo Supplement

Wednesday, August 15 is the Shunoyo (Soonoyo) Perunnal. This is the day, we believe that St. Mary has departed from this world. The church fathers teach us that the Mother of God was assumed to heaven after her death. This is a very important feast for us. Malankara World has a Supplement for Shunoyo Perunnal that covers the feast from various perspectives. Please read the Shunoyo Supplement for further study:

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

Bible Readings for Shunoyo
Sermons for Shunoyo
This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today
Is Mary not weeping, in her Heavenly Ever-Virginity, because we have too much pride in the imagination of our hearts?

Because we have exalted ourselves on our autonomous thrones?

Because we have sent the hungry away, and we have hungered, ironically, for less than good things?

Because we have not sought mercy enough to give it, and to seek nothing less?

Because of too many abortions, too many deaths from hunger or polluted water or lack of doctors? Too much destruction of nature, too much scarring of creation?

And ... too little deification, abnormality? Too much corporate thinking at the centers? Too much forgetful ennui, quiet desperation on the marches?

History begins in the Nous, the essence of the soul. "Thy Kingdom come" starts in the heart, blossoms in language, and is harvested in the world of history.

She smiles. Her spirit, after all, rejoices in God the Saviour, for the Lord is magnified, not forgotten, by her soul.

Source: Internet Discussion on a Myhrr-streaming Icon in Northeast Pennsylvania

Featured: Virgin Mary - In the Syrian Orthodox Faith

by Rev. Fr. Thomas Kora Pulpparayil, St. Mary's Syriac Orthodox Church, San Francisco
Malankara World Board Member

Throughout the Old Testament we can see the promise of a Messiah, Who is going to be born from a Virgin. It is so clear and vivid in Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. "Many of the Jewish princess and noble virgin girls had desired to receive this Messiah. But quite contrary to their wish, God chose a very poor and humble virgin in the house of David who was from the tribe of Judah. Her name was Mariyam in Aramaic which means Light and Miriam in Hebrew. Mariyam was born to Joachim and Ann at their old age after patiently praying and fasting a long period of time. So she was offered to serve in the temple of Jerusalem at the age of three, where she was taught Old Testament, Holy Jewish traditions and customs. Especially she was disciplined in meditation and seven times daily prayers. Orthodox tradition says that according to Jewish custom no girl was permitted to stay at the temple after the age of eleven; and so Mariyam was sent back to her parents home. There she continued her virgin life.

One day, when Mariyam was praying, God sent His messenger Gabriel to her and said, "Do not be afraid, Mariyam, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end" (Luke 1:30-33). Virgin Mariyam submitted herself to the will of God and by the power of the Holy Spirit she conceived the son of God (the Word / the Logos).

Virgin Mary gave birth to her only Son, the Son of God in due time. After eight days, the infant was circumcised and named Jesus, in accordance with the instructions that the "angel of the Lord" had given to Joseph after the Annunciation to Mary. These customary ceremonies were followed by Jesus' presentation to the Lord at the Temple in Jerusalem in accordance with the law for firstborn males, then the visit of the Magi, the family's flight into Egypt, their return after the death of King Herod the Great about 2 BC and taking up residence in Nazareth. Mary apparently remained in Nazareth for some thirty years. She is involved in the only event in Jesus' adolescent life that is recorded in the New Testament: At the age of twelve, Jesus got separated from his parents on their return journey from the Passover celebration in Jerusalem; he was later found among the teachers in the temple.

After Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist and His temptations by the devil in the desert, Mary was present when Jesus worked his first public miracle at the marriage in Cana by turning water into wine at her intercession. Subsequently there are events when Mary is present along with Jesus' "brothers" (James, Joseph, Simon and Judas) and unnamed "sisters" . Mary is also depicted as being present during the crucifixion standing near "the disciple whom Jesus loved" along with her sister Mary of Clopas (possibly identical with the mother of James the younger and Joseph mentioned in Matthew 27:55, Mark 15:40), and Mary Magdalene (John 19:25-26), to which list Matthew 27:56 adds "the mother of the sons of Zebedee" , presumably the Salome mentioned in Mark 15:40, and other women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and ministered to him (mentioned in Matthew and Mark).

According to the Acts, Mary is the only one of about 120 people gathered, after the Ascension, in the Upper Room on the occasion of the election of Matthias to fill the vacancy of Judas, to be mentioned by name, other than the eleven Apostles and the candidates (Acts 1:12-26) especially v. 14; though it is said that "the women" and Jesus' "brothers" were there as well, their names are not given. From this time, she disappears from the Biblical accounts, although it is held by some Christian groups that she is again portrayed as the heavenly Woman of Revelation (Revelation 12:1). Her death is not recorded in scripture. Tradition says she has being assumed (taken bodily) into Heaven.

According to tradition, Mary died while surrounded by the apostles (in either Jerusalem or Ephesus) between three and fifteen years after Christ's ascension. When the apostles later opened her tomb they found it empty and concluded that she had been bodily assumed into Heaven.

The House of the Virgin Mary near Ephesus, Turkey is believed by some to be the place where Mary lived until her assumption into Heaven. The Gospel of John states that Mary went to live with the Disciple whom Jesus loved (John 19:27), who is traditionally identified as John the Apostle. Irenaus and Eusebius of Caesarea wrote in their histories that John went later to Ephesus, which may provide the basis for the early belief that Mary also lived in Ephesus with John. "Mary's Tomb" , an empty tomb in Jerusalem, is attributed to Mary, but it was unknown until the 6th Century.

The Apostles creed and Nicene Creed both refer to Mariyam as Virgin Mary. Since Apostles and the Church Fathers, upon whose faith the Church is built, the whole true Christendom believe virgin birth of Jesus Christ from His ever virgin mother Mary. A very complicated question arises now. How can a virgin conceive? Answer is simple: what ever is impossible to man is possible to Almighty God. Syrian Church fathers explain it as follows: Angel Gabriel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most high will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called Holy, the son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word" (Luke 1:34-38). Syrian Orthodox Fathers teach that at the moment when Virgin Mary submitted to Gods will and salvation plan, the Word of God, "the Logos" entered through her ears and thus she conceived the Son of God by the grace and power of Holy Spirit. Her conception was quiet unnatural and wonderful. Therefore she did not lose her virginity. Nothing is impossible to God. Since the conception of Jesus, Mariyam is the mother of God (Theotokos) for the Syrian Orthodox Church.

Some of the later protestant churches misinterpret the Bible. They argue that Mother Mary had other children besides Jesus Christ and so they do not accept the ever virgin status of Virgin Mary. They argue that Bible talk about the brothers of Jesus (Mathew 13: 55-56). If someone interpret the Bible on the basis of one or two words that will mislead them from the truth. If Mother Mary had other children why did Jesus asked the apostle John to take care of Saint Mary? Patristic fathers Saint Ignatius, Saint Clement and Saint Polycarp and other early church fathers like Saint Yousthinous (120-166), Tertullian (160-210), Saint Ireneous (140-202) and Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386) did not have any doubts about her perpetual virginity. The brothers of Jesus mentioned in Mathew 13:55-56 where the children of Marys sister who was the wife Clapoas. Saint Clement, Origen and Saint Ephiiphanus and Saint Ambrose say that the brothers were the children of Joseph in his first marriage.

Few protestant churches argue that even Jesus addresses Mary as "woman"; He never calls her mother. In Orthodox view point it is not an indication of disrespect. We, Orthodox faithful, cannot even think of Jesus disrespecting His mother. We believe that Jesus repeatedly addresses His mother "woman" in various occasions, because He wants to prove that this woman (Mother Mary) is the woman mentioned in Genesis 3:15 and since He is the Son of this woman, He is the only savior of the mankind.

The church fathers that assembled for the Council of Nicea declared and documented that Mary is ever Virgin and Mother of God from whom the Word of God incarnated. But by the beginning of the fifth century Nestorius, the archbishop of Constantinople, began to teach against the belief which is universally established by the Council of Nicea. He said Mary is not Mother of God or Mother of Man. According to him she is the Mother of Christ. By Christ he referred the unified person of Christ. His theory was questioned by the Universal Church especially by Saint Cyril the Patriarch of Alexandria. He argued and undoubtedly proved from the scripture that Mary is ever Virgin and she is the Theotokos (Mother of God). Finally the emperor Theodosius convened the first Council of Ephesus in 431. The Council declined the theory of Nestorius and reiterated that Mariyam is Ever Virgin and Theotokos.

All the Oriental Orthodox Churches as well as the Eastern Orthodox Churches and Catholic Church believe in the intercession of Virgin Mary. Being the crown of all saints, the intercession of Saint Mary is certainly powerful and acceptable to God. But in any sense our reverence does not go beyond the line of respect; and we do not worship her or any other saints.

It is significant to know that the first church was dedicated in the name of Saint Mary. The learned comment of Athanasius on Saint Mary is a clear evidence of Saint Marys prominence,

"O noble virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness.
For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word?
To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O dwelling place of God the Word?
To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O virgin?
You are greater than them all.

O Ark of the new Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold!

You are the Ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity we shall pray:

'O virgin, Mother of God may your memory be for a blessing to us. Grant petitions of those who are afar and those who are near. Grant health to whoever is sick. Ask comfort for whoever is distressed, and drive away the evil one from whomever he torments. By your prayer and intercession may mercy be upon us, Halleluiah. May your prayer assist us.'"

In the plan and process of human salvation even God himself was utilizing the will and co-operation of this poor and humble Virgin. This Ever Virgin Mariyams (Second Eves) obedience and submission to Gods will, caused to wipe out and cleanse the sin and disgrace which entered in the world through the first Eve. That is why, the almighty God elevated her to the highest honor of Theotokos; and the true followers of her Son praise her obedience and humbleness forever. 

St. Mary, Mother of God (B. C. 14? - A. D. 66?)

by Rev. Fr. Dr. Mani Rajan Corepiscopo, Malankara World Board Member

Mary was born in B. C. 14 in the little Galilean village of Nazareth to a holy couple Joachim and Ann of the royal race of David. They were already far advanced in age and had almost ceased to hope that God would bless them with a child. Their long-felt desire was gratified by the birth of Mary, the chosen one of Adam's race.

Joachim was the second son of Eleazar of the tribe of Juda and the race of David. Ann (Deena) is of the tribe of Levi and the race of Aron. Joachim is also known as Yunochir or Heli (Abdul Ahad, 1948).

The gospels refer to Joseph to whom Mary was betrothed as the son of Jacob (Mathew 1:16) and the son of Heli. The genealogy of Joseph makes it evident that Joseph is the grandson of Matthan (Mathew 1:15-16; Luke 3:24). One explanation of the above reference to Joseph as the son of Jacob and Heli is that Joseph is the son of Jacob by birth and Joseph is the son-in-law of Heli (Heli's daughter Mary is betrothed to Joseph). This genealogical analysis is available in Abdul Ahad (1948). However, the Orthodox study Bible (1993) advances another possibility. There was a law (Deut. 25:5,6) that the brother of a man who died without a child should marry the wife of the deceased and raise up an heir for his brother. The most likely explanation is that Jacob and Heli were born of the same mother, but of different fathers. When Heli died after a childless marriage, his brother Jacob married the widow, who became the mother of Joseph. Joseph was a carpenter from Nazareth. He had seven children. James, Joses, Judas and Simon are referred to as brothers of Jesus Christ (Mark 6:3).

Mary was given to the Jerusalem temple at the age of three in accordance with a vow. Until the age of thirteen Mary helped in the church by stitching the vestments and preparing the accoutrements. It was customary that children beyond the age of thirteen were not allowed to stay in the church. Thus, Mary was entrusted to the care of Joseph of Nazareth.

Mary appears in the New Testament first when the Angel Gabriel announces the message of the favour of God (Luke 1: 28). Then Mary is seen, when Jesus was dedicated in the Jerusalem temple for naming (Luke 2:21-22), when they went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover (Luke 2:41-42), at the wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1), when a multitude was listening to Jesus (Mark 2:31), at the cross of Jesus (John 19:25) and when Mary together with disciples (Acts 1:14) was praying in the upper room (St. Mark, Jerusalem). The role and virtues of St. Mary, the Mother of God, can be gauged from these verses in the Bible.

All Christians accept St. Mary as a model to emulate. The early Church at Jerusalem had a close association with St. Mary. Protestant theologians content that Mary was a passive instrument in the salvific act of Jesus Christ. However, St. Mary was not timidly submissive for she had the free will to choose. This is evident from her response: “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). There is another argument that Mary became the Mother of God ‘only by grace’ (sola gratia). This would suggest that God unilaterally imposed the mission on her. It would again go against the basic theological teaching of free will. St. Paul suggests the need for meaningful response to the divine call as is evident in the following verses. “We beg you who have received God’s grace not to let it be wasted” (2 Cor 6:1). “Keep on working with fear and trembling to complete your salvation” (Phil. 2:12).

There is an important role for St. Mary in the redemption of mankind. However, the Catholic and Protestant Churches occupy the opposite poles on this matter. The Catholic Church goes to the extent qualifying St. Mary as corredemptrix (Macquarrie, 1991). This term projects St. Mary to have an equal status in the redemptive act of Jesus Christ. The Protestant Church considers Mary as a lady used for Jesus to take flesh from, which was possible for any woman (Genesis 3:15; Gal 4:4). The Syriac Orthodox Church qualifies St. Mary with different names, which are indicators of the theological teachings about her. Perpetual virgin (Yacoub III, 1985), Mother of God (Cayre, 1935), Mother of Church (Bernard, 1960), first among the saints and the second Eve are a few of the qualifications. The teachings of Patriarch Severios of Antioch and that of Philoxinos of Mabbug are relevant in understanding the concepts about St. Mary.

The Syriac Orthodox Church does not accept the immaculate conception of St. Mary as declared by Pope Pius IX in 1854. In contrast, Mary was born with the original sin. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22). "Therefore, just as through one man's sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all man, because all sinned" (Rom 3:23; Rom. 5:12). 'All' refers to mankind and it will be reasonable to include St. Mary in the group. The concluding prayer of the holy Qurbono after the final blessing includes St. Mary for whom the sacrifice was made.

The New Testament is silent about the life of St. Mary after Pentacost. Some writers content that she lived with John, the disciple, as entrusted by Jesus Christ at the cross (John 19:25-27). A few suggest that she spent the rest of her life at Ephesus and died in A. D. 66? However, Abdul Ahad (1948) suggests that St. Mary lived only for five years after the ascension of Our Lord and died at Jerusalem at the age of fifty-one. The body of St. Mary was wrapped in linen cloths used for the burial of Jesus and buried in the Gethsemane. After that St. Mary was taken to paradise with her body in the company of angels and saints. The intercession of St. Mary is a basic tenet of the Syriac Orthodox Church.

There are seven feasts in the intercession of St. Mary.

1. January 15 - for seeds

2. March 25 - Annunciation to St. Mary

3. May 15 - for crops

4. June 15 - Dedication of the first church in honour of St. Mary

5. August 15 - Assumption of the Blessed Mary

6. September 8 - Birth of Virgin Mary

7. December 26 - Glorification of Virgin Mary.

Devotion to St. Mary Pleases God

by St. John Eudes

Never Separate What God Has So Perfectly United.

Devotion to the most Blessed Virgin, Mother of God is so pleasing to her Son, and is so dear and commendable to all true Christians, that it is not necessary to recommend it to those who desire to lead a Christian life.

I shall only tell you that you must never separate what God has so perfectly united. So closely are Jesus and Mary bound up with each other that whoever beholds Jesus sees Mary; whoever loves Jesus, loves Mary; whoever has devotion to Jesus, has devotion to Mary. Jesus and Mary are the two first foundations of the Christian religion, the two living springs of all our blessings, the two centers of all our devotion, and the two objectives you should keep in view in all your acts and works. A man is no true Christian if he has no devotion to the Mother of Jesus Christ and of all Christians. St. Anselm and St. Bonaventure assure us that it is impossible for persons who are not loved by the Mother of Christ to have any part with Him. Conversely, it is impossible for anyone to perish upon whom she looks with favor.

As you must continue the virtues of Jesus and keep with you His sentiments, so you must also continue and maintain in your hearts the love, tenderness and devotion that Jesus cherished for His Blessed Mother. He loved her most perfectly and accorded her the very highest honor in choosing her to be His Mother, giving Himself to her as Her Most Beloved Son, taking from her a new being and life, becoming subject to her, following her guidance in outward things during His Childhood and hidden life, afterwards crowning her Queen of heaven and earth, glorifying her and causing her to be glorified by the whole world.

1. You must see and adore her Son in her, and see and adore Him alone. It is thus that she wishes to be honored, because of herself and by herself she is nothing, but her Son Jesus is everything in her, her being, her life, her sanctity, her glory, her power and her greatness. You should thank Our Lord for the glory He has given to Himself through His admirable Mother. You must offer yourself to Him and ask Him to give you to her, causing all your life and all your acts to be consecrated to the honor of her life and her actions. You must pray that He will make you participate in her admirable love for Him and in her other virtues. You must ask Him to employ your life in her honor, or rather to honor Himself in her, in whatever way He pleases.

2. You must recognize and honor her first as the Mother of God, then as your own Mother and Queen. You must thank her for all the love, glory and perfect service she rendered to Her Son Jesus Christ our Lord. You must refer to her, after God, your being and your life, subjecting yourself entirely to her as her slave, imploring her to direct you in all your affairs and to assume full power over you, as over something belonging entirely to her, and to dispose of you as she pleases, for the greater glory of her Divine Son. You must beg her to employ all your actions to honor the infinite works of her Son, and to associate you with all the love and praises which she ever gave Him and ever shall give Him throughout eternity.

It is a good thing to make these acts of devotion every day, every week or at least every month....

3. You can and should honor the most holy Virgin Mary by thoughts, meditating on the holiness of her life and the perfection of her virtues; by words, taking pleasure in speaking of her perfections, and in hearing them discussed; by actions, offering them to her in honor of and in union with her own; by imitation, striving to imitate our admirable Mother, especially in her charity, her pure love, her detachment from all things and her most divine purity, the thought of which ought to arouse in you a powerful desire to shun and fear more than death the least fault against purity, whether in thought, word or act.

Finally, you may honor the Blessed Virgin by special prayers or works of devotion, such as the Rosary, which ought to be in common use among all Christians, and the Office of Our Lady, which you should recite in union with the love and devotion of her Son Jesus for her, in honor of both their perfect lives and of their sublime virtues.

Secret Of Sanctity, Like That Of Mary, Is Humility According to Pope John Paul II
The secret of sanctity, like that of Mary, is "profound humility," John Paul II told pilgrims gathered on the feast of All Saints, a feast day which also marked the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the assumption of the Blessed Virgin into heaven.

The Holy Father's homily turned into a hymn of thanksgiving to God for Mary's beauty and that "immense multitude" of "anonymous saints that only he knows."

He cited examples: "mothers and fathers of families, who in their daily dedication to their children have contributed effectively to the growth of the Church and the edification of society; priests, religious and laymen who, as lit candles before the Lord's altar, have spent themselves in their neighbor's service in their material and spiritual need; men and women missionaries who have left everything to proclaim the Gospel to all corners of the earth. And the list could continue."

John Paul II said that Jesus made the road to sanctity very clear in the Gospel: the beatitudes. The Holy Father went on to describe the "poor in spirit," the "afflicted," the "pure of heart," those who "have hunger and thirst for justice," the "merciful," and those who "bring peace."

The last mentioned is the "synthesis of messianic goods," he said. "In a world that reflects tremendous antagonisms and exclusions, it is necessary to promote fraternal coexistence inspired in love and the capacity to share, overcoming enmities and oppositions."

In a certain sense, the Holy Father said, Mary summarized the beatitudes in her life: "'Blessed is she who believed in the fulfillment of the things that were said by the Lord!' Elizabeth said."

What is the secret of this sanctity? According to the Holy Father, it must be sought in "profound humility," in the humility that penetrates her words: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word."

"Mary, the first of the redeemed, shines before us like a lamp that guides the way of all humanity, reminding us of the last end to which the person is called: sanctity and eternal life," the Pope emphasized.

These two goals, the Pope said, cannot be reached without being dedicated to justice and peace on earth -- a peace like the one sought for the Holy Land in the Mideast.

Source: ZENIT News Agency; Copyright 2000, Zeitun-eg.org. All rights reserved.

Mother of Mercy
These words of the Church at Easter re-echo in the fullness of their prophetic content the words that Mary uttered during her visit to Elizabeth, the wife of Zechariah:

"His mercy is...from generation to generation." (1)

At the very moment of the Incarnation, these words open up a new perspective of salvation history. After the resurrection of Christ, this perspective is new on both the historical and the eschatological level. From that time onwards there is a succession of new generations of individuals in the immense human family, in ever-increasing dimensions; there is also a succession of new generations of the People of God, marked with the Sign of the Cross and of the resurrection and "sealed" (2) with the sign of the Paschal Mystery of Christ, the absolute revelation of the mercy that Mary proclaimed on the threshold of her kinswoman's house: "His mercy is...from generation to generation." (3)

Mary is also the one who obtained mercy in a particular and exceptional way, as no other person has. At the same time, still in an exceptional way, she made possible with the sacrifice of her heart her own sharing in revealing God's mercy. This sacrifice is intimately linked with the cross of her Son, at the foot of which she was to stand on Calvary. Her sacrifice is a unique sharing in the revelation of mercy, that is, a sharing in the absolute fidelity of God to His own love, to the covenant that He willed from eternity and that He entered into in time with man, with the people, with humanity; it is a sharing in that revelation that was definitively fulfilled through the cross. No one has experienced, to the same degree as the Mother of the crucified One, the mystery of the cross, the overwhelming encounter of divine transcendent justice with love: that "kiss" given by mercy to justice. (4) No one has received into his heart, as much as Mary did, that mystery, that truly divine dimension of the redemption effected on Calvary by means of the death of the Son, together with the sacrifice of her maternal heart, together with her definitive "fiat."

Mary, then, is the one who has the deepest knowledge of the mystery of God's mercy. She knows its price, she knows how great it is. In this sense, we call her the Mother of mercy: our Lady of mercy, or Mother of divine mercy; in each one of these titles there is a deep theological meaning, for they express the special preparation of her soul, of her whole personality, so that she was able to perceive, through the complex events, first of Israel, then of every individual and of the whole of humanity, that mercy of which "from generation to generation" (5) people become sharers according to the eternal design of the most Holy Trinity.

The above titles which we attribute to the Mother of God speak of her principally, however, as the Mother of the crucified and risen One; as the One who, having obtained mercy in an exceptional way, in an equally exceptional way "merits" that mercy throughout her earthly life and, particularly, at the foot of the cross of her Son; and finally as the one who, through her hidden and at the same time incomparable sharing in the messianic mission of her Son, was called in a special way to bring close to people that love which He had come to reveal: the love that finds its most concrete expression vis-a-vis the suffering, the poor, those deprived of their own freedom, the blind, the oppressed and sinners, just as Christ spoke of them in the words of the prophecy of Isaiah, first in the synagogue at Nazareth (6) and then in response to the question of the messengers of John the Baptist. (7)

It was precisely this "merciful" love, which is manifested above all in contact with moral and physical evil, that the heart of her who was the Mother of the crucified and risen One shared in singularly and exceptionallythat Mary shared in. In her and through her, this love continues to be revealed in the history of the Church and of humanity. This revelation is especially fruitful because in the Mother of God it is based upon the unique tact of her maternal heart, on her particular sensitivity, on her particular fitness to reach all those who most easily accept the merciful love of a mother. This is one of the great life-giving mysteries of Christianity, a mystery intimately connected with the mystery of the Incarnation.

"The motherhood of Mary in the order of grace," as the Second Vatican Council explains, "lasts without interruption from the consent which she faithfully gave at the annunciation and which she sustained without hesitation under the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. In fact, being assumed into heaven she has not laid aside this office of salvation but by her manifold intercession she continues to obtain for us the graces of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she takes care of the brethren of her Son who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home." (8)

Source: Excerpted from the Encyclical Dives in Misericordia, November 30, 1980.

References:

(1) Lk. 1:50.

(2) Cf. 2 Cor. 1:21-22.

(3) Lk. 1:50.

(4) Cf. Ps. 85 (84):11.

(5) Lk. 1:50.

(6) Cf. Lk. 4:18.

(7) Cf. Lk. 7:22.

(8) Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, no. 62: AAS 57 1965, p. 63.

Pope Explains What Mary's Assumption Means

by Marianne Medlin

The Feast of Assumption reminds us to have faith and gives us hope for the future.

Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on Aug. 15, 2011, saying that the celebration gives Christians hope of a future united with Christ, both in this life and in heaven.

"This feast," he said, "tells us that we too will be with Jesus in the joy of God and invites us to have courage, to believe that the power of the resurrection of Christ can work in us as well."

He remarked during his homily that the feast day serves to inspire the faithful to evangelize modern society and helps "make us men and women who every day try to live as resurrected, carrying the light of goodness into the darkness of evil in the world."

He also reflected on the daily reading from the Gospel of Luke, where the Blessed Mother travels to visit her cousin St. Elizabeth, who is overjoyed that the "mother of her Lord" would come to her.

"Mary comes into the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth, but does not enter alone. She enters carrying in her womb the child in which God himself became man."

The Pope said that the evangelist Luke highlights the significance of Elizabeth, her husband Zechariah and the baby in her womb, John the Baptist, waiting for Marys arrival.

"Zechariah and Elizabeth and the infant John the Baptist are, in fact, the symbol of all the righteous of Israel, whose heart, full of hope, awaits the coming of the Messiah," he said.

Pope Benedict observed that the Holy Spirit then opens the eyes of St. Elizabeth to recognize that Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant, since she carries the Son of God within her very self.

When Elizabeth exclaims, "Look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy," St. Luke uses the term "skirtan" which translates to "bounce."

This, the Pope explained, is the same term used to describe the holy dance of King David in front of the Ark of the Covenant when it was returned to Israel in the Old Testament Book of Second Samuel.

"John the Baptist in the womb is dancing before the ark, like David," he said. "Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant, before which the heart leaps for joy at the Mother of God in the world."

Men and women today, the Pope said, are also the recipients of Gods love and must do as Mary did: accept Christ in faith, be enlightened and guided by his word, and follow him every day.

Before praying the Angelus at noon, Pope Benedict observed that the feast of the Assumption is celebrated by Christians of both the Eastern and Western Church.

"May the example and prayers of Mary, Queen of Heaven, inspire and sustain us on our pilgrimage of faith," he told pilgrims, "that we too may attain the glory of the Resurrection and the fulfillment of our hope in her Sons promises."

Source: EWTN News/CNA

Here is Your Son. Here is Your Mother

by Edward F. Markquart, Sermons from Seattle

Scripture: John 19:26-27 (Prescribed Lectionary Reading for Shunoyo.)

Mother and Friend, Take Care of One Another

Point 1: Jesus was still compassionately thinking of others even when hanging on the cross.

Jesus preached his most powerful sermon from the cross. The first three statements from the cross reveal an enormous and incredible love for others. In all three statements, Jesus was thinking of others. Jesus said, "Father, forgiven them, for they know not what they do" and in this statement Jesus was focusing on the needs of the soldiers and crowds who were ridiculing him and not on his own pain. In the second statement, Jesus was focusing on the thief on the cross when he said to the thief, "Today, you will be with me in paradise." And the same quality of love for another is found in the third statement when Jesus was concentrating on the needs of his mother and best friend. He simply said to his mother. "Here is your son." He said to his best friend, "Here is your mother." Jesus was telling the both of them: Take care of one another in the future when I am physically gone from you.

It amazes me that while Jesus was in the midst of such enormous pain, he could think of the needs and pain of others.

I have discovered that a personality is consistent in life and in death. Jesus was enormously compassionate during his life and he was enormously compassionate during his death. People are consistent. People are consistent in both living and dying, and so was Jesus.

Point 2 is the setting. The setting was Golgotha, the place of the skull. Golgotha was at the base of a sixty foot vertical cliff of dark mud and clay. On the face of that cliff was carved out holes so that when a person looked at that cliff from a distance, you could see two eyes and a mouth. It looked like a skull and it was called the "place of the skull."

Who was there? The enemies against Jesus. The soldiers, the Pharisees, the crowd of gawkers. Also the two thieves on the cross were there.

Jesus' family was also there: his mother, his aunt, his cousin. Students: please write that down. Jesus' mother, aunt, and cousin were at the cross. Let me explain. We know there the three Marys were present at the foot of the cross: Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of Clopas. Interesting, other gospels tell us that a fourth woman, the sister Jesus' mother, was also there. Her name was Salome and her sons were John and James. If that is true, then Mary's sister was there, Salome, and her son, John, was also there. That makes Salome the aunt of Jesus and that makes John at the cross Jesus' first cousin, Salome's son. So Mary had her sister there, and her sister was the mother of John the disciple who was also there.

So the only disciple who remained loyal to Jesus and was with him when he was being crucified was John, the beloved disciple, who appears to be Jesus' first cousin.

Let us focus for a moment: first on Mary, then on John, and then on the words of Jesus to them.

Point 3 of the sermon: Mary the Mother of Jesus. Let us briefly look at the "Mary the mother of Jesus stories" and see what we can learn from them. Mary was the only person in the Bible who was with Jesus from beginning to end, from birth to death. She was with Jesus throughout his whole life.

I would like to briefly review with you the signs that Mary received about Jesus. We all get signs, little evidences about other people or ourselves and these signs are clues that reveal the truth.

Mary's first sign was this. We remember the first story about Mary when the angel Gabriel came and told her that she would get pregnant by the Holy Spirit and give birth to the savior of the world. And what was young Mary's reaction, as a fifteen year old girl? "With God, nothing is impossible. I am a servant of the Lord. I believe." And so we are reminded that Mary was a devout young Jewish woman who deeply believed in God, that nothing was impossible with God, even that she could become pregnant by the Holy Spirit. I personally believe that she was the first human being on earth who believed in Jesus as the Son of God.

And then there is that second sign when she was in the temple, dedicating Jesus to God, and an old man by the name of Simeon came up to her, "a sword will pierce your soul and the hearts of many people will be revealed." Mary pondered these things. She always would have thought: "what does it mean that a sword will pierce my heart?" Like so many things deeply buried in the recesses of her mind, she remembered the warning by the old man Simeon that a sword would pierce her heart before it was all over. This was the first sign, an omen, to her that her son would die a murderous death, but I do not believe that she fully grasped what this meant.

The third sign. Mary was with Jesus when he was in the temple at age twelve and he said, "I must be about my Father's business. I must be in my Father's house." The Bible said that she pondered and remembered these things, that Jesus knew that his real father was not Joseph but the Holy Spirit.

A fourth sign or clue. Mary was with Jesus when Jesus did his first miracle, turning the water into wine at a wedding feast. Mary seemed to push Jesus into his first miracle, and he seemed hesitant. It seems, by reading this story in John 2, that Mary had a glimmer of Jesus' true identity. After this miracle, the disciples first believed in him; and the disciples and Mary went down together with Jesus to a little town of Capernaum. I am simply suggesting to you that according to John 2 and the water into wine, Mary believed in Jesus even before the disciples.

A fifth clue. Mary and her children came to see Jesus and someone reported to Jesus that his mother and brothers were there. Jesus replied, "Those who do the will of God are my true brothers, sisters and mother." Mary would have nodded in agreement. The true family was Jesus are those who do the will of God.

A sixth sign is the clue today. Mary was with Jesus at the foot of the cross. This would have been the most awful and gut wrenching experience of her life, to see and experience his crucifixion on the cross. The nails that sent through his wrists could have just as well gone through her wrists. The sword that pieced his side could have just as well been thrust through her side. Jesus' pain was her pain. That is the way it is with mothers. I have known and watched many mothers during my life as a pastor, and I have watched such mothers when their children are deathly sick and suffering. It is always the same: the mother totally feels the pain of her child, and Mary totally felt the excruciating pain of Jesus. Mary's best friends and sister were there with her, but their love and compassion did not diminish the sadness and agony she was feeling. Her friends and sisters shared her grief, but her grief was not diminished.

So for me, Mary is a model of mothering for all of us. Every child needs a great mother. There is no other occupation in the world that compares to quality mothering from birth to death. I personally had such a great mother, and I sometimes believe the greatest human gift that God ever gave to me was a fine mother. As the book of Proverbs says, a fine mother is more valuable than jewels.

One of the last acts of Jesus was to care for his mother by entrusting her future to his best friend and cousin, John, the faithful disciple.

Point 4 of the sermon: John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. You are blessed if you have a very best friend, a person whom you are closer to than any other. Jesus had such a best friend and that friend's name was John. In the fourth Gospel, we hear that John was "the beloved." That is, John was the person to whom Jesus was the closest. John was Jesus' best friend.

We also know other things about John. We know his mother was Salome, the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus. So Jesus and John were cousins. Not all cousins are close but Jesus was first close to John. We also discover that John had a brother, James, and that they were in the fishing business. We discover that two sets of brothers, Peter and Andrew, James and John, were all fishermen on the Sea of Galilee and they were Jesus' first disciples. We also hear that James and John had hot tempers; that they were called the "sons of thunder" because they had thunderous tempers and personalities. We also know that John and his temper wanted a Samaritan village destroyed by God because this village didn't react more favorably to Jesus. John also requested of Jesus (through his mother) that he be the number one person in the kingdom of God. It is amazing to me that such a hot tempered personality as John who wanted to arrange to be first in the future Kingdom of God wrote the Gospel of John and I John, the two most beautiful books about the love of God in the whole Bible. That proves that Jesus works miracles and can change people. Jesus changed John from a hot tempered, I wanna be number one, into a loving person, and God can work that miracle in your life as well.

So we find this John at the foot of the cross. All the other disciples have run away. That means that John was more courageous than all the other disciples. Or it means that he loved Jesus more than all the other disciples. I tend to believe the latter: that is, John was there at the foot of the cross, not because he was more courageous, but because his love for Jesus was deeper and more authentic than the other disciples.

And Jesus said to his best friend, John, who was with him at the end, "take care of my mother." John did. John tells us in his Gospel of John, in his account of the story of Jesus, that he John took Mary into his own home and cared for her from that day on.

What can we learn from the best friend of Jesus, John? We learn that best friends love through thick and thin, from the highest to the lowest points of life. And when life is the lowest, best friends are there, and John was there. I see that very often in my word. Life is at the lowest and the most painful and the best friends are there to share the grief. That is the way it is with best friends. In fact, you count the best friends by counting those who are with you at the worst and lowest moments of life.

Point five of the sermon: Jesus. In the midst of excruciating pain, Jesus was thinking of the two people who loved him most during his earthly life: his mother and his best friend. He asked them to care for each other in the future, and they did that. We find that Mary and John were together in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit was given to the church in Acts 1 and 2. We also discover that Mary and John traveled to live in Ephesus. Temples were built in Ephesus to both Mary and John, indicating their shared lives there in that city. I am suggesting to you that Mary and John, the two people who loved Jesus most here on earth, took care of each other until their dying day, just as Jesus had asked them to.

What do we learn from Jesus through these words from the cross, "Here is your son. Here is your mother?"

First, Jesus taught us to love even when we are dying. Jesus could have been so overwhelmed by his own pain and suffering that he would not have thought of others. Not so for Jesus. In the midst of dying, he was still thinking of others.

I have many such people in my life as a pastor. I visited a dear friend of mine in the hospital years ago who was dying of cancer. He was one of my best friends who had this million dollar smile. I have never met anyone who has had the electric smile that Ray had. When I called on Ray and his cancer was causing great pain, he always asked about my life, me, my wife, my kids, even when in enormous pain. That is just the way Ray was. And so many other people I have known through life. Jesus was like that.

Second, Jesus and my friends have taught me how to die. Yes, we learn things from so many people as we walk through life. We learn how to garden from others; we learn how to fish from others; we learn how to have a baby from others; we learn how to cook from others; we learn about the details of life from others. That is just the way it is. One generation passes its knowledge on to another generation. And one important thing we learn in life is how to die. Yes, how to die. We learn how to die from other friends and loved ones. You don't learn this from books or television. Jesus and his people today teach us how to die, how to handle our death.

Third, Jesus didn't choose the way he was going to die and we won't either. That is, there are a lot of things in life we don't have choices about and most of us don't have the choice as the way we are going to die. Very few people have that ideal and idyllic death where the person is ninety-five years old, rocking in a rocking chair in the front lawn, a grandchild comes by and says "hi Grandma" and Grandma nods. The grandchild comes back from the story and the rocker is silent and Grandma has died peacefully in her rocking chair in the middle of a Montana summer day with the warmth of sun. No, most of us don't die like that. Sometimes the death comes suddenly; sometimes slowly. Sometimes younger; sometimes older. Sometimes peacefully; sometimes painfully. And most of us don't have a choice. Neither did Jesus. It was God's mysterious design that Jesus die on the cross. I personally believe that there is evil in this world and we can't figure most of life out; but in the midst of evil, I believe that God has a design and plan for our lives. Jesus' death was plan of the plan of God. God used evil for good. I believe that my own death will be part of the plan of God and God will use evil for good.

Hanging from the cross at Golgotha, with two thieves at his either side, with hecklers below the cross, Jesus was also surrounded by the love of two people who loved him most here on earth. His mother and his best friend. In his last act of compassion, Jesus focused on their needs and asked them to take care of each other in the future. They did. Amen.

Biblical Responsive Reading

Litany (read responsively)

Leader: In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. Luke 1:26-27, 30

Congregation: "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. Luke 2:49-51

L: On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine." "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come." This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days. John 2:1-4; 11-12

C: Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, "Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you." "Who are my mother and my brothers?" he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother." Mark 3:31-35

L: When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. "Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor." For even his own brothers did not believe in him. Mark 6:2-4; John 7:5

C: Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:25-27

Jesus' Care For His Mother

by Stephen Felker

Gospel: John 19:25-27 (Prescribed Lectionary Reading for Shunoyo)

Introduction

Many times in Scripture the New Testament writers make an appeal to us based upon the example of Christ. For example, in Philippians 2 Christ is the supreme example of humility and self-sacrifice. He was willing to leave heaven, take on human flesh, become a servant, and even die for others. Jesus is our example in so many other ways, including the way He honored, and cared for His mother. Jesus knew and practiced Exodus 20:12, the 5th Commandment, "Honor your father and your mother."

One example of His obedience to that Commandment was when He was 12. You may remember the story found in Luke 2. Jesus had gone to Jerusalem with His parents and He went to the temple, and starting talking to the learned teachers of the Law. Meanwhile, His parents had packed up to return to Nazareth. They assumed that Jesus was with the other children in the caravan. After they had traveled some distance, they discovered that Jesus was not with them. So they rushed back to Jerusalem to find Jesus. Well, they found Him in the temple, and Mary expressed how concerned they were for Him. Jesus replied, "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" Then v.51 of Luke 2 goes on to say, "Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them." He was obedient to His parents. In fact, that is one of the best ways a child can show love and honor to their mother. In John 14:15 Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." Even so, one way you can show love for your mother is by obeying her commandments.

Not only do we have that example of Jesus when He was young, but we also have a good example from Jesus as He faces the end of His earthly life. Here in John 19 we see that He honors and cares for His mother. Even as He was dying, He fulfilled the Commandment to honor His mother. Today, I want to encourage you to honor and care for your mother the way Jesus did.

However, first let us see what our text says about Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was such an example of love and devotion to her son. Likewise, most mothers have such devoted love for their children. That is one reason why we honor our mothers, especially on Mother's Day. Now, based on this text of Scripture, I want to challenge all mothers who hear this message to have the same kind of love & devotion to your children that Mary had. So let's see our first lesson found in v.25:

I. FOLLOW MARY'S EXAMPLE AS A MOTHER

There were many near the cross of Jesus that day: the religious leaders were there to mock Him, & see Him suffer and die. They were the ones who spearheaded His death. They taunted Jesus saying, "He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him" (Matthew 27:42). Then there were the curious spectators. Jerusalem was filled with pilgrims at Passover. The place of crucifixion was along a busy road leading in and out of Jerusalem. The Romans wanted many people to see crucified victims as a warning not to violate Roman law. Then there were the Roman executioners, who were indifferent to the suffering of Jesus. There were also two who were crucified with Him. But one group of people received special notice. They came close to Jesus in His time of suffering because of their love and devotion. In v.25 we read, "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene." Matthew (27:55) spoke of women beholding from afar, but John mentions three or four women1 who have clearly drawn near the Cross by now. They were near enough to hear Jesus speak, and near enough to see the anguish and agony on His face! He who showed such love to others does not die unlamented. In the midst of rage & fury, loving followers stand near Him in His dying moments.

Now the one that we will focus on this morning is Jesus' mother. She headed the list. In fact, John alone mentions the mother of Jesus in the group. Our heart goes out to her. To watch your child suffer & die must be one of the worst experiences of life.

Mary's example challenges us first of all to:

A. Have Steadfast Devotion for Your Children - The thousands whom Jesus had fed, healed, blessed, and comforted had turned awaybut His mother was there near Him. Mary showed her love and devotion to the very end. They convicted Him of blasphemy, but she still believed that He was the promised Messiah. She & the other faithful followers at the cross exhibited the words of the Song of Solomon: "love is as strong as death. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it" (8:6-7).

You know, you can usually count on your mother to stand by you, even when others won't. Isn't it wonderful to have a mother like that, who will stand by you through thick and thin? How can we not fully appreciate the heart of a mother!

I hope every mother here will follow Mary's example, and be devoted to your children as she was.

Secondly, Mary's example teaches us to:

B. Be Strong for Your Children Mom's are endowed by God with great strength. After all, being a mom is one of the most difficult assignments a woman will ever accept. Mothering is no job for a weak person! Someone said that if motherhood were going to be easy, it never would have started with something called labor (Illus.#C-564). Mary's strength was exhibited in at least two ways:

1. Unlike all but one of the male disciples, she & the few other followers displayed a lot of courage to be at the cross. We see her standing strong in the face of such hostility by the religious leaders, the crowds, and the thieves crucified with Him. They could have been accused of guilt by association. At the very least they could have been objects of scorn. Yet they drew near the cross, and clearly demonstrated that they were His followers. There are some women who show courage like few men do.

What a contrast they were to most of the male disciples. Where was Peter, the big, bold fisherman? Where was Thomas, who had said, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him" (John 11:16). Where were the other disciples? Mt. 26:56 says of theme, "They forsook Him and fled." As 1 Robertson says that Solome, who was there (Mark 15:40), was John's mother. She may have been Mary's sister. It may be that His mother's "sister" was also called Mary. If so, it could not have been her blood sister. She was probably her husband Joseph's sister. This Mary was also among the few women who came to the tomb that 1st Easter morning (Mt. 28:1). But also gathered there was "Mary with wife of Clopas." Then, there was Mary Magdalene. Jesus had performed a wonderful act of mercy, having cast 7 demons out of her. She knew what it was to be bound by sin and then freed by the savior! What love and devotion she had! These women showed greater love and devotion than most of the disciples. Where would we be without the love and devotion of women!

we see from v.26 that only John returns to follow Jesus to the cross.2

2. Another evidence of her strength is the fact that she did not flee the terrible sight. Though her heart was filled with sorrow, I believe that she kept her composure. She would not let anything keep her from being there for her son. That is one characteristic of mothers that is worthy of honor. A mother's love and devotion enables her to keep going when others would quit. A mother will make heroic sacrifices for her children.

Years ago, a young mother was making her way across the hills of South Wales, carrying her tiny babe in her arms, when she was overtaken by a blinding blizzard. She never reached her destination alive, and when the blizzard had subsided her body was found beneath the snow. But the searchers discovered that before her death she had taken off all her outer clothing and wrapped it about her baby. And when they unwrapped the child, to their great surprise and joy, they found he was alive and well. She had given her life for her child, proving the depth of her mother love. Years later that child, David Lloyd George, grown to manhood, became prime minister of Great Britain, and without doubt one of England's greatest statesmen.3

Dear mothers, will you be strong for your children? Are you spiritually the kind of mother that your children need?

Finally, Mary's example teaches us to:

C. Be Willing to Suffer for & with Your Children Can you imagine how difficult it was for Mary to be there, to watch her son suffer so much? What a horrible sight for a mother to look upon! The same head that Mary kissed and caressed in a cradle now bleeds from a thorny crown on a cross! The crowd was screaming and mocking, her son was bleeding, and she was watching it all. She experienced the fulfillment of Simeon's prophecy (Lk. 2:35). He told her some thirty years before that someday her own heart would be pierced through also. We can only imagine how much Mary suffered that day with grief and sorrow that only few can imagine.

Being a mother or father is a great experience, but we must be realistic and expect the possibility that it can be a source of great suffering and pain. Being a mother begins with great pain. Some of you have buried a child. Others of you have worked long hard hours to provide for, and care for a child. Many parents have experienced the heartbreak of a rebellious child. Oh yes, there can be great suffering in being a mother. But there is also great reward! Many rewards are yet to come! So don't flee from the responsibilities of being a parent just to avoid suffering. Accept suffering as a necessary part of being a parent.

Now I want every child here today, whether young or old, to appreciate what Mary illustrates, that your mothers have been devoted to you, strong for you, and have suffered for you. They are worthy of your honor, respect, obedience, and love. And so that leads to my next scene in this drama at the cross. We also see here:

II. FOLLOW JESUS' EXAMPLE AS A SON

In this text of Scripture we see an amazing demonstration of our Lord's love and concern for His mother, even as He was experiencing great suffering on the cross. Let me ask you a question. What happens when you stub our toe really badly? Are you at that moment concerned about the stock market? Ladies, are you concerned about what you are going to serve your family for the next meal? I tell you what happens. The more we hurt, the more we all tend to become very self-centered. We become preoccupied with our own pain & suffering. Yet even though Jesus was suffering greatly, atoning for our sin, He took time to care for others. He was engaged in tremendous suffering. Yet, He was not so preoccupied with His own problems that He did not consider others.

As we have noted, the Gospels record that Jesus spoke seven last sayings on the cross. The first three of them all express Jesus' concern for others. Even in death, Jesus showed more concern for others than for Himself. As they nailed Him to that cross He was thinking of others when He said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." As He hung on the cross, He took time to offer the hope of forgiveness & eternal life to the repentant thief. And as He hung on that cross, He thought, "But what about mother? What will happen to her?" He was concerned for her safety. He was concerned for her shelter. He was concerned for her sustenance. Jesus gives us an example of honoring and showing love for our mothers.

We are going to look at 3 actions of Jesus, and then draw lessons for us based on the example of Jesus. First of all, notice in v.26 that:

A. He "Saw" His Mother Don't you imagine that her eyes were filled with tears? Don't you think that a look of anguish was in her face? It would seem that she was suffering almost as intently as Christ. When the child of a parent suffers, you can be sure the parents suffer also, and would wish that they could suffer in the place of their child. So the suffering of Mary was quite evident. Yet He did not ignore her, but He looked upon His dear mother, and no doubt was moved with compassion for her. Surely, Christ noticed her suffering!

I believe there is an application to us. Just as Jesus took note of His mother, even so, Jesus knows what you are going through. When you and I get into problems, we sometimes think that Jesus is too busy running the universe to care about us. Don't believe it for a moment! As the song says, "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He's watching me."

Several years ago Cheryl & I went up to Lynchburg to help Andrew move out of his dorm. Cheryl did a good job cleaning up his dorm room. That took a while. Then we ate a nice meal at Cracker Barrel. It was at least 3:00 p.m. by the time we left Lynchburg. Then as we were nearing Crew, VA we heard a severe thunderstorm warning on the radio. Then the sky became dark, and strong wind was blowing. It started raining so hard I could hardly see more than 30 feet in front of me. In fact, up ahead on 460 a tree had been blow down over the road, and I barely stopped in time to go around it. Then it started to hail. We were caught in a terrible storm & we started to pray for God's protection. And it was a comfort to know that God knew we were going through that storm. He sees us, and He cares! Sure enough, God saw us through the storm, & we arrived home safely. Of course, we also need to make application to us as children. We are to look after our mothers. And the older they get, the more important it is to check up on them from time to time. There's an expression that says, "Out of sight, out of mind." We must not let them be out of sight for very long. Be like Jesus, and look upon your mother, especially in her time of need. Don't ever neglect her.

Not only did Jesus see His mother, and notice her suffering, but also:

B. He Spoke to His Mother In the last of v.26 we read that "He said to His mother, 'Woman, behold your son!'" How it must have encouraged her soul just to hear her son speak to her yet again!

Even so, I believe we should speak to our mothers with regularity. Call them. They want to hear your voice. Write them. Stop by and visit them.

Now let's not get concerned about the way Jesus addressed His mother here. This isn't the first time He called His mother, "Woman." About three years earlier He was at a wedding in Cana, He addressed her in this way (2:4). The title "woman" was not a harsh designation in that day, but a rather common one. In fact, I found 5 other examples in the New Testament.4 It would be similar to "Mam" or "Mrs." today. [But He may have addressed her in such a manner for at least 2 reasons. First, to protect her. At the very least identifying Mary as His mother could expose her to the rudeness of the crowd. Secondly, Mary had to realize that natural ties were to be replaced by spiritual. Christ no longer was to be her son, but her Savior & Lord. Mary needed a Savior just as much as you do.] So don't regard this form of address as a sign of disrespect. Christ would never use a disrespectful term to address His mother. He would never violate the commandment to honor His mother, and nor should you.

Another way Jesus honored & cared for His mother was this:

C. He Selected a Protector & Provider for His Mother - Jesus knew that He was about to leave this world. It was quite evident that His mother was a widow. He knew that she had no government support. But He would not leave her uncared for. The eldest son was responsible for a widowed mother, and now she would need another to look after her. So He seeks to provide a home for his widowed mother. So beginning in the last of v.26 Jesus "said to His mother, 'Woman, behold your son!' Then He said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother!'" Before He died, He appointed a protector & provider for His mother.

I want us to answer several questions concerning what Jesus did here:

1. When Did Jesus Do This? He did it when He was a grown man. Our obligations to our parents do not end when we become adults. We still should love them, honor them, and, if need be, even provide for them. 1 Timothy 5:8 says, "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." When our aging parents need our help, we should provide for them. After all, they provided for us for 18+ years! Granted, Gen. 2:24 says that a man shall leave father and mother, and be joined to his wife, but that does not end all responsibilities toward parents. Clearly, Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of the Law, and so this act was His final discharge of His earthly duties. Jesus kept the commandment to honor His parents. He did it with His last breaths on the cross.

What does this mean for us? It means that we, too, must honor our parents in such a way. After Cheryl's mother was hospitalized from a serious illness, she did not hesitate to go to GA to care for her. Then when was discharged from the rehabilitation center, she brought her mom to our home here in Virginia. She has been devoted in her care of her mother, and she is another example of honoring mother in such a way.

2. How Did Christ Provide for Her? Jesus is the Son of God. Yet He did not send manna from heaven to provide for her after His ascension. No, He provided through His people, in this case, through John. In v.27 Christ said to John, "Behold your mother!" From now on, John would take His place as the son who would be responsible for the care & protection of Mary. No doubt, this was a burden he gladly bore. We read in the last of v.27, "And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home." One tradition says that Mary lived with John in Jerusalem the next 11 years and died there. Another says that she did not die in Jerusalem, but followed John to Ephesus, and died there at a ripe old age.

The same is true today. Just as Jesus said to John, "Behold, your mother." Even so, He may say to us, "Behold, your mother. Care for her." James said that pure religion includes visiting widows in their affliction (Jas. 1:27). Or perhaps there is someone else you know that is in need. They have no family, or no believers in their family. Perhaps the Lord would say to you, "Behold, your brother; care for Him." We are our brother's keeper (cf. Mt. 25:40). I wonder how many children need grandparents. Their flesh & blood grandparents are hundreds of miles away. Yet you could develop a close relationship with those children. Would Christ say to you, "Behold, your grandchildren."

3. Why Did Christ Choose John to Provide for Her? Mt. 13:55-56 plainly declares that Mary had other family members (cf. Mk. 3:31-35). They were probably all grown at this time. Why were they not appointed to take care of her? One reason is the fact that in John 7:5 we read that the brothers & sisters of Jesus did not yet believe on Him. In the kingdom of God, spiritual ties take preference over natural ties. Galatians 6:10 says, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." Jesus asked in Mt. 12:48, "Who is My mother and who are My brothers?" Then vv.49-50 says, "And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, 'Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.'" John was a brother to Jesus. So Jesus gave John the responsibility of caring for Mary. 5

When Jesus linked His mother to John, He was conveying a deeper reality: The cross of Christ is intended to make family of all of us. When we become believers in Christ, we become brothers and sisters by the blood of Christ. We share the new birth. We partake of the same Holy Spirit. We have the same destiny, a home in heaven.

Though my physical mother has gone to heaven, I have many mothers in Christ. Though my brother lives 500 miles away in Georgia, I have many brothers in Christ right here in this church. Though my sister in the flesh has died, I have many sisters in Christ in this church. I have many spiritual sons and daughters. I have a few spiritual fathers as well.

You know, this story ends on a good note. Look over at Acts 1:14, "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers." Note the victory that cameHis whole family became believers. Something happened between the death of Jesus, and the events of Acts 1. We know from 1 Cor. 15:7 that the risen Christ "was seen by James," the brother of Jesus. No doubt He gave testimony to His brothers and sisters, and they all believed in Jesus.

Conclusion: I want to conclude with this thought. What was the best thing the brothers and sisters could have done for their mother? It was to believe in Jesus. That is what happened in the case of Mary's family. All were united in faith. I wonder if there are some here today who would bring joy to your mother, and joy to heaven, by repenting of sin, and believing in Jesus. Who will step forward to confess Jesus as Savior and Lord? Finally, are you showing honor to your mother by your words? Children and teenagers, are you showing honor by your obedience? Grown children, are you showing honor by properly caring for your widowed or aged mothers? If not, I encourage you to make things right starting today.

Footnotes:

2 He fled like the others, but then later, the changed His mind, and returned to be near Jesus. He was the one who seemed to love Jesus the most! When we turn away from Jesus, we should repent, and come back to Jesus. May I ask you a question: have you wandered away from Jesus? Come back to Jesus!

3 G. Franklin Alleo in Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: #3648 (Rockville, Maryland: Assurance Publishers, 1979).

4 See also Matthew 15:28; Luke 13:12; Luke 22:57; John 4:21; 20:13.

5 Besides, John may have been her nephew, the son of Mary's sister. Furthermore, the brothers and sisters of Jesus were evidently not present at the cross.

Sources:

Dr. Ernest L. Easley (notes from his sermon on this text dated 2/18/96)

John Gill, An Exposition of the Old and New Testament, 1760 (accessed from Online Bible);

Oliver B. Greene, The Gospel According to John, Vol. 3 (Greenville, SC: The Gospel Hour, 1966);

William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: John (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1955);

Herschel H. Hobbs John: A Study Guide Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1965);

Fred. W. Krummacher, The Suffering Savior (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1855), 399-409;

John Macarthur, Jr., Crucifixion & Resurrection: Study Notes on John 18-20 (Panaroma City, CA: Word of Grace Communications, 1984);

Tony R. Nester (notes from his sermon on this text);

Larry Pierce, Online Bible [CD-ROM] (Ontario: Timnathserah Inc., 1996);

Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975);

A.T. Robertson, New Testament Word Pictures, Vol. 14 (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1931, accessed through Online Bible);

Merrill C. Tenney, John: The Gospel of Belief (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948),

Warren W. Wiersbe, "Be" Series: New Testament Volumes 1 & 2, John (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989).

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982).

Dr. Stephen Felker. Used with Permission.

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