Malankara World Journal
Malankara World Journal

Ettu Nombu (8-Day Lent) Special - 2

Volume 2 No. 94 September 4, 2012

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Mary, The Mother of God
Table of Contents
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1. Inspiration for Today

"He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name."

2. Featured: Five Facts That Must Be Ignored Before Accusing Us of "Mary Worship"!

Here are 5 facts about Mary. Before you accuse Catholics and Orthodox Christians of worshiping Mary, I ask you to take a long hard look at these facts. They have a way of poking holes in the theory that we place too much emphasis on Mary. If you still want to accuse us of worshiping Mary, then I suggest you ignore these facts! ...

3. Asking for the Intercessions of St. Mary

Rev. Fr. John Brian analyzes an orthodox prayer of intercession to St. Mary. What are we asking in the prayer, and to whom the prayers are directed and the purpose played by the prayer. He also explains the important role played by St. Mary and why she is raised above others. ...

4. What We Learn from Mary's Life

Mary inspires us to want to carry our cross patiently as she carried hers. She inspires us to want to serve others generously and joyfully, as she served them. Finally, she inspires us to pray regularly as she did. Who can be a better Advocate than Mary our Mother? ...

5. Hymn: The Ark which God has Sanctified

6. Mary - The Handmaiden of the Lord

Mary's Fiat was spoken from the heart. In a Biblical context, "heart" is a word that means much more than the fleshy organ at the center of our chest cavity. It refers to our center, the core of each one of us, the place where our deepest identity is rooted, and from which our fundamental choices about life are made. ...

7. Mary, The Ever-Virgin

Did St. Mary remain a virgin after the birth of Jesus? The author explains the teachings of the church that Mary was 'ever virgin.' ...

8. Meditations for Days 5-7 of the 8-Day Lent: Listening To Mary's Voice

We continue the seven days of meditation/reflections on what Mary Spoke as reported in Bible. Please read the designated portion for each day of the 8-Day Lent..."Although Mary only spoke on four occasions in Sacred Scripture, each of her statements provides a wealth of information. By meditating on her words TO EACH OF US, we can become more like her and grow closer to the Lord." ...

9. Listening To Mary's Voice – Day 5: Losing Jesus

"Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." (Luke 2:48)

10. Listening To Mary's Voice – Day 6: The Wedding At Cana

"They have no wine." (John 2:3)

11. Listening To Mary's Voice – Day 7: Her Final Words

"Do whatever he tells you." (John 2:5)

12. Malankara World Supplement on Saint Mary, The Mother of God

13. About Malankara World

Inspiration for Today
"He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name."

"Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?"--There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours.--"Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy."--"Hallowed be your name."

"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people."

Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? "It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save."--"I have granted help to one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen from the people."

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory.

Luke 1:49; Ex. 15:11; Ps. 86:8; Rev. 15:4; Matt. 6:9; Luke 1:68; Isa. 63:1; Ps. 89:19; Eph. 3:20, 21

Featured: Five Facts That Must Be Ignored Before Accusing Us of "Mary Worship"!

by Gary Zimak

I love the Blessed Mother! There…I said it and I'm glad I did! I'm so blessed to be a member of the Church that truly honors and respects the Mother of my Lord and Savior. I must admit that, even though I'm a cradle Catholic, I didn't always feel this way. In fact, for most of my life I didn't understand Mary's role or care about her too much. What a mistake! Now, after several recent accusations of "Mary worship" on my Facebook page, it's time to stand up for my "Mom". And, even though I love her and want to defend her honor, I have no intention of getting nasty. Rather, I'd prefer to present 5 facts about Mary. Before you accuse Catholics and Orthodox Christians of worshiping Mary, I ask you to take a long hard look at these facts. They have a way of poking holes in the theory that we place too much emphasis on Mary. If you still want to accuse us of worshiping Mary, then I suggest you ignore these facts!

1. God Sent The Savior Through Mary

I list this one first because it's really tough to downplay Mary's importance while acknowledging that the long awaiting Messiah came to earth by being born of a woman…and that woman was Mary. Out of all the ways that Jesus could have come to earth, why was Mary chosen? If Mary was important to God, shouldn't she mean something to us?

2. Jesus Performed His First Miracle At Mary's Request

This is another good one. Oh I know, Jesus didn't need Mary to turn the water into wine at Cana. She just happened to be there. OK, why then did St. John list Mary FIRST in his list of wedding guests?

On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage with His disciples. (John 2:1-2)

If Mary is not important in this saga, why is she listed BEFORE the apostles and BEFORE Jesus? St. John the Evangelist was not known for inserting extraneous details. Mary is listed first because John wants to call the readers' attention to her presence at the wedding.

But what about "the rebuke"? You know, the argument that Jesus was telling Mary to "butt out" when He stated:

"O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come." (John 2:4)

Jesus was a devout Jew and an obedient follower of the Ten Commandments. Why would He publicly dishonor His mother in violation of the Fourth Commandment? Secondly, if this was such a "put down" by Jesus, why did He go ahead and perform the miracle of changing water into wine? Wouldn't that have been the end of the request. Of course it would, unless He wasn't putting Mary down. When His mother interceded on behalf of the couple, Our Lord decided that His time had now come. Don't you think Jesus is trying to tell us something? Isn't it probable that Jesus waited until Mary's request, in order to show us her intercessory power? Doesn't that explain why St. John listed her first among the guests?

3. Jesus Gave Mary To John From The Cross

As He suffered and died on the Cross, Jesus made a very profound statement:

When Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing near, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!" Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
(John 19:26-27)

Why, while struggling to speak as He hung on the Cross, would Jesus have spoken these words if they didn't mean anything? Could He have been making small talk? Obviously, there was a reason that Our Lord did what He did. The Church has always believed that John represented each member of the Church and that, from that moment on, Mary became our spiritual mother. Scripture tells us that, on that day John accepted Jesus' gift and "took her to his own home" (John 19:27). Shouldn't we do the same?

4. Jesus' First Graces Were Given Through Mary

This is a fact that frequently gets overlooked by those who wish to downplay Mary's importance…and it comes straight from the Bible! After accepting God's offer to become the Mother of the Savior, Mary traveled "in haste" to visit her relative, Elizabeth.

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the child leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:41)

According to this Bible passage, before Jesus was even born, Mary's voice was used to deliver the graces to Elizabeth. Why? Because she's not important? Isn't there some other way, these graces could have been dispensed?

Not convinced? Listen to what Elizabeth had to say (also directly from the Bible)…

"For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the child in my womb leaped for joy." (Luke 1:44)

It's pretty hard to deny the importance of Mary's presence and voice in dispensing these graces to Elizabeth. Did the graces originate from Mary? No, they obviously came from Jesus. However, He chose to have Mary make the journey and use her voice to deliver them. Why? Because He wants us to realize that she is important!

5. Jesus Christ Is The Sole Mediator Between God And Man

Now, this doesn't make sense. How does this help to support the our position? This is why we "have it all wrong", isn't it? Sorry if I'm bursting anyone's bubble, but we absolutely believe that Jesus Christ is the sole mediator between God and man. For instance, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) clearly states this belief:

Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners. (CCC 2634)

This teaching is supported by the following Bible passage:

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all. (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

Although Jesus Christ is the sole mediator between God and man, that doesn't preclude others (including Mary) from being involved in a subordinate mediation, or intercession. Saint Paul, who made the above statement, is obviously aware of that fact since he several times urges his readers to pray for each other (Romans 1:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:25, 1 Timothy 2:1). The Catechism refers to this type of intercession as being a "participation in the intercession of Christ" (CCC 2635) and is put into practice each time we pray for one another. Asking Mary to intercede for us in no way takes away from Jesus' role as mediator between God and men.

While I'm not naive enough to think that listing these 5 facts will render me immune from further accusations of "Mary worship", I do think that they will have an effect if looked at with an open mind. Sacred Scripture does not contain a lot of words about Mary, but what's there is powerful. Theologians have spent 2,000 years studying her Biblical appearances and will continue to do so. We can learn much by studying Mary's role as documented in the pages of the Bible. If anyone wants to accuse me of being a "Mary worshiper", I ask you to first look at these 5 facts. If you still want to point a finger, you'll need to ignore these factual statements…

because accepting them will seriously undermine your credibility!

Source: Following the Truth.com

Asking for the Intercessions of St. Mary
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.

At this time of year, many parishes and individuals, prayer groups and missions of the Orthodox faith ask for the intercessions of Mary, Virgin-Mother of God, birthgiver of Jesus Christ the Savior.

Rev. Fr. John Brian analyzes an orthodox prayer of intercession to St. Mary. What are we asking in the prayer, and to whom the prayers are directed and the purpose played by the prayer. He also explains the important role played by St. Mary and why she is raised above others.

To some it may appear that Orthodox are praying to St. Mary, asking her to fulfill prayers, but in Orthodoxy we are praying that she will pray (or intercede) for us or act on our behalf. This is similar to asking an elder, monastic, priest or bishop for their prayers. Fr. John Brian says that the process of asking intercessions helps us better understand us.

In this short sermon, Fr. John Brian clarifies this act of prayerful faith.

This sermon was given on Sunday, August 26, 2012 by Fr. John-Brian Paprock at Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission Chapel, Madison, Wisconsin.

Listen to the sermon on-line here:

http://frjohbrian.blogspot.com/2012/08/asking-for-intercessions-of-mary.html

Source: Fr. John Brian, Madison, WI

What We Learn from Mary's Life
Mary did not suffer physical corruption after her death. She was taken body and soul upon her death into heaven. We celebrate this in the Solemnity of Mary's Assumption. What is the significance of this feast?

The first thing we find in Mary's life is suffering. Mary's suffering began when she was asked to bear a son before being married to Joseph. The anxieties in her heart, – would Joseph still accept her? If the public finds out, will she be stoned to death in public? Later, when she and Joseph took the child Jesus to the Temple, the holy man Simeon said of Jesus: "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and the rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted." Turning to Mary he said, "And sorrow, like a sharp sword, will pierce your own heart."

Suffering continued in Mary's life when in later years she saw the opposition grow against Jesus. Her suffering reached its peak when she stood beneath the crucified body of her Son. Mary bore her suffering with courage and with patience. And that's where she inspires us to bear our suffering as courageously and patiently as she did.

The second thing that we find in Mary's life is the spirit of service to others. The spirit manifested itself when the angel Gabriel announced that she was to be the mother of the Son of God. Her answer was short and to the point: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Mary's spirit of service continued to manifest itself when she learned of Elizabeth's pregnancy and went to help. Finally, that spirit of service continued to manifest itself when Mary asked help from Jesus for the young married couple at Cana.

The third thing that we find in Mary's life is a spirit of profound prayerfulness. This spirit of prayerfulness is seen in her prayer of praise to God. Mary offered this prayer called the Magnificat right after learning that Elizabeth's child leaped in the womb when she approached Elizabeth with Jesus in her womb. Mary's spirit of prayerfulness continued at the birth of Jesus, when the Gospel tells us that Mary "kept all these things [connected with Jesus' birth] reflecting on them in her heart." And it reached a special peak when the Acts of the Apostles relates that she "devoted" herself "to prayer" with the Apostles in preparation for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Because of her prayerfulness, she was always ready to do the will of God. That's why she was sinless, that's why she was taken body and soul to heaven upon her death to be with God forever.

Mary inspires us to want to carry our cross patiently as she carried hers. She inspires us to want to serve others generously and joyfully, as she served them. Finally, she inspires us to pray regularly as she did. Who can be a better Advocate than Mary our Mother?

Hymn: The Ark which God has Sanctified
The ark which God has sanctified,
Which He has filled with grace,
Within the temple of the Lord
Has found a resting-place.

More glorious than the seraphim,
This ark of love divine,
Corruption could not blemish her
Whom death could not confine.

God-bearing Mother, Virgin chaste,
Who shines in heaven's sight;
She wears a royal crown of stars
Who is the door of Light.

To Father, Son and Spirit blest
may we give endless praise
With Mary, who is Queen of heaven,
Through everlasting days.

(Source: Stanbrook Abbey Hymnal)

Mary - The Handmaiden of the Lord

by Deacon Keith Fournier

Mary's Fiat was spoken from the heart. In a Biblical context, "heart" is a word that means much more than the fleshy organ at the center of our chest cavity. It refers to our center, the core of each one of us, the place where our deepest identity is rooted, and from which our fundamental choices about life are made.

Mary's heart was - and is - profoundly humble. This young woman was not full of herself, not self-protective, not cynical. She was therefore able to completely surrender herself in love, to Love. Her initial assent to the Angel Gabriel's announcement reveals the very meaning of another Biblical word, holy. Holiness is not about being religious or looking pious. It is about being selfless. Mary was holy, and she shows us the way to become holy, too.

In the original languages, the words in Holy Scripture which are translated into the English word "holy" means set apart or consecrated. They refer to people or things that are totally given over to God and His worship. If we want to be holy, we need to explore the meaning of these words and make them our own.

In our common parlance, the people or items involved in temple worship are entirely dedicated to God's service. It is in that sense that we, too, are called to be set apart for the living God. We are to make a place for Him within ourselves and within the world. We are to bear His message through a lifestyle that radiates His love.

It is only by embracing ideas of being set apart and consecrated that our own personal histories can be truly transformed. This happens through conversion, or "metanoia", which, in Greek, means "to change." Our hope for change, for becoming holy, is to open our lives to the One who is the source of all goodness and holiness.

We are called to respond to the Lord's invitation, to say "Yes" to a relationship with Him. This is what Mary's Fiat is all about. In saying Yes to God, as Mary did, we are able to discover the path to conversion, to holiness, to authentic spirituality. We become servants of the Lord.

Our call to embrace the Fiat and to make it our own is not a formula for easy spiritual growth, nor is it the first in a series of steps that lead to solving the problems of life. The Fiat is not the answer to a riddle or the meaning behind some mystery. The spiritual life is a path, a Way, and it involves a continuing, ongoing walk with the Lord.

God has invited each of us into an intimate, personal, exchange of love. This kind of intimacy with a living, loving God is the interior meaning of Mary's Fiat, her Magnificat, and her way of life. When we embrace Mary's Prayer and make it our own, we allow the Love that Mary bore in her body to be incarnated in and through us, too.

Each of us can say "Yes" to God. Each of us can respond with our entire being, with a Fiat of surrendered love. When we do so, our positive response marks the beginning of a participation in the very life of the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We become sons and daughters of the Most High and enter into the life of the living God. In Him we find our deepest identity, our real selves, through our participation in the One who made us, who redeems us, and who transforms us by His continual grace. Our holiness comes through touching the Holy God, through being filled with His life and love.

Conversion begins when we say our own Fiat with our words and our deeds. It introduces to us a new and dynamic way of living with God, and in God. As we lose ourselves in Him, we find ourselves again, made new and completed. This holy exchange-our life for His-is the essence of the spiritual journey. It is not about power but powerlessness. It is not about increase but decrease. It is not about becoming greater but about becoming smaller. In short, true spirituality is about surrender.

Centuries of Christian people have learned that as we lose ourselves in Him, He reveals Himself as a God who can, does and will act in our very real, human daily experiences. He makes it possible for us to have a genuine relationship, a dialogue, with Him. He certainly wants us to live life to the fullest. However, precisely because we were made for Him, we find our fulfillment in emptying ourselves, in selflessness. Then, of course, we are filled and fulfilled in Him. However, this is a fruit and not a goal. He is the goal.

Mary, in her selflessness, was open to the angel's visit and the message the Lord spoke through him. She recognized who was speaking. She listened, received and responded. In so doing, she demonstrated the framework of all authentic spirituality. God initiates a relationship and we respond in surrender to Him. By saying "Yes", through our own Fiat, we are set apart...consecrated... made holy. We become servants of the Lord.

Source: www.catholic.org

Mary, The Ever-Virgin

by Sebastian R. Fama

Some say that Mary had children other than Jesus. They cite several passages of Scripture that supposedly say as much. One example is Matthew 1:24-25, which reads, "When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus."

The word "until" seems to indicate that after the birth of Jesus there were normal marital relations. However, the Greek word heos (ἕως) which is translated as until, does not imply that anything happened after Jesus' birth, nor does it exclude it. The point of the verse is that Joseph was not responsible for the conception of Jesus.

The word "until" is used this way elsewhere. In reference to John the Baptist, Luke 1:80 states: "The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel." Does this mean that once he appeared publicly he left the desert? It might appear so, but Jesus says otherwise in Luke 7:24: "When the messengers of John had left, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John. 'What did you go out to the desert to see, a reed swayed by the wind?'" John had already begun his ministry back in chapter 3. Here we are in chapter 7, and he is still in the desert.

Luke 2:7 is often pointed to as evidence that Mary had other children. It reads: "And she gave birth to her firstborn son." If Mary had a first born wouldn't that indicate that she had at least a second born? Not at all. In Hebrew culture the term first-born is simply a title for a woman's first child. If she only had one child he would still be her first-born. There is a perfect example of this in Numbers 3:40: "The Lord then said to Moses, 'take a census of all the first-born males of the Israelites a month old or more, and compute their total number.'" How many of those one month old babies do you suppose had younger siblings? I think it would be accurate to say, none of them. And yet they are still referred to as "first-born."

But what about the verses that speak about the brothers and sisters of Jesus? For instance, Matthew 13:55-56: "Is He not the carpenter's son? Is not His mother named Mary, and His brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Are not His sisters all with us?" Could Matthew be referring to Jesus' cousins? Although both Greek and English have a word for cousin, Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus, does not. Hence the words brothers and sisters are used. These terms can also be used to refer to friends. Observe how Jesus himself uses the word "brothers" in Matthew 28:10 and see what happens in verse 16: "Then Jesus said to them, 'Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me'...The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had ordered them." Were the disciples His siblings? Of course not!

A comparison of the three gospel accounts of the women at the foot of the cross demonstrates that James and Joseph, two of the named brothers, are the sons of Mary and Cleophas (Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, and John 19:25). This Mary is obviously not the mother of Jesus, as she is mentioned in addition to her. Another obvious reason is the fact that Jesus' mother was married to a man named Joseph, not Cleophas.

In Mark 6:3 Jesus is called "THE" son of Mary not "A" son of Mary. Elsewhere, Mary is called the mother of Jesus, but never the mother of anybody else. Even Protestant reformers such as Martin Luther, John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli taught that Mary remained a virgin. They believed that it was the clear teaching of Scripture.

In Luke 1:30-35, we find the following: "Then the angel said to her, 'Behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall name Him Jesus.'… But Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?' And the angel said to her in reply, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.'" Mary's statement would make no sense unless she intended to remain a virgin. The angel said; "you will conceive" not you have conceived. Surely Mary knew the facts of life. If she were to conceive, her normal thought would have been that at some future time she would have relations with a man. Her protest could only have meant that she was a virgin and that she would like to keep it that way. The angel's reply is an assurance that such would be the case. Mary's point becomes even more obvious when you consider the fact that she was already betrothed to Joseph.

Additional evidence can be found at the foot of the cross. In John 19:26-27 we find: "When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple there whom He loved, He said to His mother, 'Woman, behold your son.' Then He said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother.' And from that hour the disciple took her into his home." If Jesus had brothers and sisters, why did He entrust the care of His mother to the Apostle John?

Copyright © 2001 StayCatholic.com

Meditations for Days 5-7 of the 8-Day Lent:
Listening To Mary's Voice
We continue our meditations based on on what Mary Spoke as reported in Bible. This is based on the series of articles by Mr. Zemak, titled 'Listening to Mary's Voice.' Please read the designated portion for each day of the 8-Day Lent. Reflect/Meditate on it. See how it can be used in your life. Mary provides us with a model life that had been pleasing to God; so He elevated her to a high status - that of bearing the son of God. In spite of this honor, Mary never lost her humility. She dedicated her life so that God can use it whatever way He wanted for His plan for the redemption of mankind.

The meditations for days 1 through 4 can be found in Malankara World Journal Issue 93.

Ettu Nomb Day-5 (Wednesday, September 5)

Listening To Mary's Voice
Day 5: Losing Jesus

by Gary Zimak

Mary: "Where's Jesus?"
Joseph: "I thought He was with you."
Mary: "No, I thought He was with you."
Joseph: "Well, He has to be around here somewhere, so let's look."
(Mother Angelica, Mother Angelica's Private and Pithy Lessons From the Scriptures)

This humorous snippet of fictitious dialog reminds us that, despite being the parents of the Messiah, Mary and Joseph weren't given a pass from the worries and difficulties faced by all parents. When we look at the story of the Finding in the Temple, we can almost feel the helplessness experienced by Mary and Joseph. Despite being chosen for a monumentally important role, they didn't have all the answers. In her discussion of this incident, Mother Angelica notes a very important point about Mary, "She was sinless, but she wasn't Mrs. Omnipotent".

Continuing our series on Mary's words in the Bible, let's look at one of the most confusing, yet most familiar, of Our Lady's statements. After looking for Jesus for three days, Mary and Joseph found Him teaching in the temple. Scripture tells us that they were "astonished" and records the words spoken by our Blessed Mother:

"Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." (Luke 2:48)

Sometimes we forget just how human Mary was. Although she never sinned, she wasn't blessed with the gift of omniscience. On several occasions, the Bible tells us that Our Lady "pondered things in her heart". In other words, just like us, she often had to meditate in order to discern the Lord's message. Being the Mother of God didn't exempt Mary from struggling to determine God's will. Rather than lash out or complain, Mary asked a simple question to Her Son…Why have you done this to us? She was trying to obtain an answer, most likely fearing that she and Joseph had done something wrong. The second part of her statement also communicates an important piece of information. Mary and Joseph were searching for Jesus with great anxiety.

There are many ways that we can "lose" the presence of the Lord. Although He will never leave us, we can use our free will to turn away from Him. Those of us who have done this know the feeling of emptiness and hopelessness that accompanies our disobedience. In his book The Glories Of Mary, Saint Alphonsus Liguori wrote, "Souls who have lost God are really miserable and unhappy. If Mary wept over the loss of her son for three days, how much more should sinners weep who have lost sanctifying grace?" Since Mary had never sinned, she didn't know what it was like to lose God. It's quite possible that the Lord wanted Mary to experience this sense of loss so that she could be a better advocate for those who stray. This experience of losing Him, the only way possible for one who never sinned, will help her to empathize with those who are lost and enable her to truly become the Refuge of Sinners.

After losing Jesus, Mary and Joseph searched for Him with great anxiety. How do we respond when we "lose" Him in our own lives? Is finding the Lord our number one priority? Sadly, it is often not a priority at all. According to Saint Augustine, "When they lose an ox they do not hesitate to go and look for it; when they lose a sheep, they leave no stone unturned to find it; when they lose a beast of burden, they cannot rest until they have discovered it; but when they lose God, who is the supreme Good, they eat, drink, and sleep as usual".

As we meditate upon this sad episode in Our Lady's life, let's never forget that she knows what it's like to be separated from Jesus and can help us to discover Him in our own lives. Holy Mary, Refuge of Sinners, pray for us.

"There is no sinner in the world, however much at enmity with God, who cannot recover God's grace by recourse to Mary, and by asking her assistance." (Saint Bridget of Sweden)

Ettu Nomb Day-6 (Thursday, September 6)

Listening To Mary's Voice
Day 6: The Wedding At Cana

by Gary Zimak

"They have no wine." (John 2:3)

As I continue with Part of 6 of my 7-part series on Mary's words in Scripture, the scene shifts to the wedding at Cana. Previously we've been looking at Mary's words as recorded by Saint Luke, but now we'll focus on Saint John's writing. When the wine ran out at the wedding, Mary's four words leave us with a powerful message. More importantly, it was her words that led to Jesus performing His first miracle!

Do you really think Jesus needed to be told of the wine shortage? Since He was omniscient, wouldn't He already know? There must be a reason that Mary is featured so prominently in this story. In fact, her prominence can be seen at the very start of this story. In what seems like an oddity, Mary is actually listed BEFORE Jesus in the list of guests!

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. (John 2:1-2)

St. John's detail oriented nature leads us to believe that his ordering of guests is designed to call attention to Mary's presence at the feast. He wants us to realize that she was present for a reason and that her actions and words are important. That said, why was she there and what could be the purpose of her pointing out the obvious?

An insight into the importance of Mary's role can be derived by looking at the format of St. John's Gospel. Immediately, one can observe a strong parallel with the Book of Genesis. Just as in Genesis, John's Gospel starts with "in the beginning" (Jn 1:1). We then see a series of three "the next day's" followed by the announcement of the wedding at Cana "on the 3rd day" (Jn 2:1). Some simple arithmetic allow us to deduce that the wedding feast took place on the seventh day, which calls to mind the end of the creation narrative referred to in the Book of Genesis. As our minds are focused on the first book of the Bible (most likely intentionally, as John didn't include extraneous details), we can't help but recall the story of the first woman (Eve) who led the first man (Adam) to sin by offering him the forbidden fruit (Gen 3:6). Interestingly enough, in the wedding at Cana, we see a strong parallel IN REVERSE! Unlike Eve, who led Adam to sin thus causing the gates of Heaven to be closed, we see Mary (sometimes referred to as the new Eve) leading Jesus (the new Adam) to perform His first miracle and inaugurate the NEW creation story. Jesus' mission was to OPEN the gates of Heaven, previously locked by man's disobedience. If the above parallels are not enough, the fact that Jesus called His mother "woman" (Jn 2:4), solidifies the comparison to Eve and the Book of Genesis.

Another thing that stands out is Mary's awareness of the situation and her willingness to help. She was obviously paying attention to the happenings at the wedding and, by doing so, noticed the problem (quite possibly, even before the bride and groom). Once she saw that there was an issue, Mary didn't try to solve it by herself or dispatch one of the disciples to obtain more wine. Instead, she went to Jesus and pointed out the problem. She didn't demand anything, she didn't give Him any extraneous details, she simply pointed out that the wine had run dry. In the same way, Mary is watching each of our lives and guess what happens when she notices a problem? You bet…she goes to her Son! In his only Marian encyclical, Blessed Pope John Paul II reflected on the importance of Mary's role at Cana and in each of our lives:

At Cana in Galilee there is shown only one concrete aspect of human need, apparently a small one of little importance ("They have no wine"). But it has a symbolic value: this coming to the aid of human needs means, at the same time, bringing those needs within the radius of Christ's messianic mission and salvific power. Thus there is a mediation: Mary places herself between her Son and mankind in the reality of their wants, needs and sufferings. She puts herself "in the middle," that is to say she acts as a mediatrix not as an outsider, but in her position as mother. She knows that as such she can point out to her Son the needs of mankind, and in fact, she "has the right" to do so. Her mediation is thus in the nature of intercession: Mary "intercedes" for mankind. (Blessed Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater)

Next, I'll look at Mary's final words in Sacred Scripture, "Do whatever He tells you" (Jn 2:5).

Ettu Nomb Day-7 (Friday, September 7)

Listening To Mary's Voice
Day 7: Her Final Words

by Gary Zimak

As we conclude this series on Mary's words in Scripture, her advice to the servants at Cana summarizes her faith and how she lived her life. After informing Jesus that "they have no wine", Mary turned to the servants and uttered her last recorded words in the Bible:

"Do whatever he tells you." (John 2:5)

Throughout this study, we have listened to the Blessed Mother's words as she teaches us how to better live our Christian faith:

"How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" (Luke 1:34)

Mary desired to learn more about God's will for her life. When she didn't understand what God wished of her, she asked questions. She wanted to please Him in all that she did.

"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38)

The Blessed Mother willingly proclaimed herself to be the Lord's servant. It didn't matter what He wanted her to do. That was up to Him. Her only desire was to obey His will.

"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.
" (Luke 1:46-55)

Although Mary was aware of her sinlessness, she knew that her goodness was due to God's grace. Far from having a low self esteem, Our Lady gave glory to God for working through her.

"Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." (Luke 2:48)

Since Mary never sinned, only Divine intervention could allow her to experience what it was like to be separated from Jesus. As soon as that separation occurred, however, she began seeking Him with great anxiety. She understands the importance of urgently pursuing the Lord once we separate ourselves from His presence.

"They have no wine." (John 2:3)

With great charity, Mary always looks out for the well being of others. As soon as she observes a problem, she immediately turns to her Son and allows Him to handle the situation in the best way possible.

"Do whatever he tells you." (John 2:5)

With total confidence that her Son will handle the shortage of wine at Cana, Mary leaves us with a powerful message. Jesus continues to speak through the teachings of His Church and in the pages of the Bible. Often times, we desire to follow our own will and to serve ourselves. That course of action directly contradicts Mary's final recorded words in Scripture. If we want to achieve our eternal salvation, we must follow her advice to the letter. Whether we find it easy or difficult, we must always…

Do whatever He tells us!

Malankara World Supplement on Saint Mary, The Mother of God
To learn more about St. Mary, her life, and her place in the Church, please visit Malankara World Supplement on St. Mary. This supplement also features an eBook on St. Mary written by our Holy Father, His Holiness our Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka 1, Iwas.

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