Memorial of the Queenship of Mary, Aug 22, 2021
“Why do you honor Mary?”
Our Protestant brethren and poorly catechized Catholics usually ask us this question because they are baffled, uncomfortable, and sometimes annoyed with the unique honor and veneration that Mary receives. They ask, “Why should she be venerated above all other saints?”
My favorite response to this question is this: we Catholics rightly honor Mary because Jesus Christ freely chose to honor her first. No one honored Mary more than Jesus Christ did. He freely chose to honor her above all the angels and saints.
How did Jesus do this?
Christ honored her first by the great privilege of making her the Immaculate Conception by the foreseen merits of His own passion, death, and resurrection. Conceived without Original Sin, Mary was also “full of grace” (Lk 1:28) from the moment of her conception.
Christ honored Mary by giving Himself completely to her. He did not hold back any aspect of His divinity or humanity in His complete gift of Himself to Mary. Jesus’ gift of Himself to Mary is only surpassed by the eternal gift He makes of Himself to the Father in the bond of the Spirit.
Christ then honored Mary by trusting and depending on her as His own beloved Mother. In the words of St. Paul, “In the fullness of time, God sent His Son, born of a woman.”(Gal 4:4) Imagine the complete trust and confidence that Jesus had in Mary to dwell in her womb as a little defenseless infant. The almighty God who does not absolutely need any of His creatures freely chose to depend on His beloved creature for nourishment, support, protection, and movement.
Christ honored Mary by respecting her, listening to her, and obeying her every counsel to Him, “He went down with them and was obedient to them.”(Lk 2:51) The Incarnate Wisdom, whose wisdom had earlier baffled the learned scribes in the temple, also chose to submit in love to His own creature. What an honor on the side of Mary!
Lastly, Christ honored Mary by entrusting to her care all those redeemed by His passion and death on the cross. At the moment when He paid the price of our redemption, He said to Mary, “Behold, your son.”(Jn 19:26) In the person of the beloved disciple, Jesus thus handed to Mary’s maternal care all those souls that He had won by His passion.
We must never forget that Jesus Christ does not change, “Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever.”(Heb 13:8) If He thus honored Mary so exceptionally here on earth in these ways as only He could, then He must also honor her in heaven above all angels and saints as our Mother and Queen of heaven and earth.
Nevertheless, we do not honor Mary only because she received all these divine honors in a passive way. She also deserves our unique honor because she also responded with all her being to these divine honors by serving Him as His disciple and cooperating in His redemptive mission. In accordance to the divine plan, Mary will assist Christ in fulfilling His divine mission, beginning by freely offering Him a sinless human nature that would be the instrument of our salvation. Because Mary consented to the divine plan, Christ was indeed “born of a woman,” and we graciously “received our status as adopted sons and daughters.”(Gal 4:5)
Mary served as both Mother and handmaid of the Lord all the days of her life. She served Him faithfully even when she did not understand His words and actions in her life, “Son, why have you done this to us…But they did not understand what He said to them.” She is the loving mother who “kept all these things in her heart,” (Lk 2:48,50,51) constantly pondering them because she wanted to serve and honor her son in all the conditions and circumstances of her life.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus Christ has given us the greatest honor in making us God’s beloved children. He has done so by cleansing us from our sins in His own blood and giving us His amazing graces. We are much more than slaves now, “So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then also an heir through God.”(Gal 4:7) He has also given some of us the great privilege of sharing in the priesthood of His Son and empowered us to make His sacrifice on Calvary present. He has honored some of us to be procreators with Him through married love, bringing new life into this world and raising them up in the faith.
Christ has truly honored us. But can we say that we truly honor Him in return? Do we serve Him alone, worship Him always, and listen to Him attentively even when we do not understand His ways in our lives? Do we strive to keep His ways when this will cause us to be ridiculed and ostracized by others? Do we strive to fulfill our mission from God as our part in God’s eternal plan? Do we willingly cooperate with His redemptive mission when we are experiencing suffering and pain? Don’t we rather find ourselves withdrawing into ourselves and taking back our commitments to Him when things get unfavorable for us? The truth is that Christ honors us but we dishonor Him in many ways.
This is why we must honor Mary too as our Immaculate Mother and Queen just like Jesus Christ, the Eternal king, honored her. Jesus honored her and she responding by participating and assisting in His mission to the glory and honor of the Father. We cannot add or take away from this honor that Jesus has given His Mother. But when we truly honor her as she deserves, she too will help us to give due honor to God all the days of our lives through lives of loving obedience, selfless service, and unceasing worship in spirit and in truth.
We can begin by reverencing Mary as our rightful Queen. This is the time to love her as our beloved Mother and depend on her for all our needs. We pray to her because she always prays for us and with us for the things that we do not even know that we need. We must have unlimited trust in Mary, following the example of Jesus’ loving dependence on her for everything. Like Jesus, we too should give ourselves completely to her and let her help us to give due honor to God. Lastly, our love for Mary must lead us to imitate the virtues of Mary, especially her humility, purity, service, hope, love, obedience, faith, etc.
Jesus once promised us that His Father would honor whomever serves Him (Cf Jn 12:26). Thus, Heaven is not for those who only receive great privileges and honors from God. Heaven is for those who receive these honors but also seek to honor God until the very end of their lives. Jesus gave this honor to His Father through honoring Mary. We too can and should do the same through honoring Mary today and always.
Jesus Christ again gives us great honor in the Eucharist. What a great honor to receive Him just like Mary did at the Annunciation. We cannot honor Him on our own. If we begin to honor Mary as Christ did, she will help us to honor Him as He deserves and one day come to share in her heavenly glory as Queen of heaven and earth.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!