Many Christians say that we are living in very trying and dangerous times. That is certainly true but one thing that Christians have to realize is that there has never been a safe time to follow Jesus Christ. His way has always been counter cultural and while different eras of history as well as geographic location could determine the type of danger we face, we must realize that each threat is real as are the feelings of fear and rejection.
This was a reality not only for Christians in the early Church but for Jesus' family. In this year of St. Joseph we reflected on all that we can learn from Jesus' earthly father in an earlier blog (https://blog.hcdtalks.com/2021/03/honoring-st-joseph.html) but during this month of Mary we will now reflect on what we can learn from the courage displayed by our Blessed Mother.
Yes, there are places in the world right now where being a Christian is a threat to your physical life. There are organizations out there right now who provide updated information on such threats. https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/ However, we should not forget the struggles that many of us face in the secular world, which has created an atmosphere where people of faith are not welcomed to share their beliefs while those with other forms of subjective beliefs are allowed to speak openly. It has become such a part of our culture that such attitudes exist in some Catholic schools where faith filled students are frowned upon when they speak of their faith outside of the classroom...while still being on campus.
As part of Humana Corpus Dignitate Catholic ministry I, along with my partner Angelica Delallana speak openly about how we are available for talks on some of the hard topics in our Church. Still, that does not mean that we do not face our own doubts and fears, especially when it comes to the potential backlash from those with a great passion for the opposing view. Therefore, a lot of what I am going to share in this blog is not just for those reading it but also for myself as well as my partner in ministry.
We are always reminded to take our concerns and struggles to Jesus. Still, we are reminded that aside from His love and grace Jesus has also given us the Communion of Saints in order to offer us various examples of how we can live as He wishes. No better example of this than the Queen of all Saints, which is why I took the time to write this blog to honor our Blessed Mother during this Month of the Rosary.
Who is This Woman?
The name Mary is the same as Miriam, who was the sister of Moses & Aaron, which also means that it is a name of great status. The name is defined as bitter or grieved, which might serve as a sign of things to come in our discussion.
One of the titles that Our Lady is known for is the Virgin Mary. Some believe that it refers to her being a virgin at the time of Jesus' birth while others see it as a reference to her perpetual virginity throughout her life. There are those who actually challenge the belief in the virgin birth based on the Hebrew word almah, which is found in Isaiah 7:14. This word refers to a young woman of marriage able age. It is true that such a woman may not necessarily be a virgin but that does not mean she is not a virgin.
The Greek translation uses the word virgin for almah and while this could challenge the idea of Mary's virginity at the time of Jesus' birth we have to also consider Joseph's intention to divorce her since he believed that she had been with another man (Matthew 1:19) as well as Gabriel's Annunciation where he explained to Mary, who was clearly a virgin at the time of this exchange, that the child's conception in her womb would be will of the Most High (Luke 1:35). Perhaps we are seeing not so much the fulfillment of the Law but the fulfillment of a divine revelation that began with the prophet Isaiah that would be fully pronounced by the angel Gabriel, who as stated to Zechariah in Luke 1:19, stood before God.
This divine revelation would be fully manifested in Mary's Fiat in Luke 1:38: Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. This is a beautiful portrayal of her faith in God's promises to His people (Luke 1:55) and is also the reason why she is described in Catholic Tradition as being Jesus' first disciple due to the fact that she knew Who she was carrying in her womb. Still, there was a great risk in accepting this blessing. As stated by Leslie Church: Never was a daughter of Eve so dignified as the Virgin Mary was, and yet in danger of falling under the imputation of one of the worst crimes; yet we do not find that she tormented herself about it; but, being conscious of her own innocence, she kept her mind calm and easy, and committed her cause to Him that judgeth righteously.
Who are my mother and my brothers? While we can focus on Mary being conceived without original sin, thus, not being one to retaliate or harbor any ill will towards Jesus. Still, we cannot forget that she was a human being with a mother's heart for her Son.
Holy Mother of God, teach us to love when our hearts are broken and please comfort us when we are close to losing hope in the promises of your Son.
We have so much work to do but in the midst of that work we also have much to endure. We have seen many people of faith lose their careers, their status, their reputations as well as their peace of minds. People of faith have always faced rejection from family and friends. In other words, the people of Christ do in fact carry many crosses.
One of those crosses is the burden of fear. While many American Christians speak of us not having to live in parts of the world where our faith can cost us our lives we still have the burden of rejection, which for any person is a great challenge since we are both communal beings and people of faith who are called to share the Gospel with others.
Let us look to Our Lady as an example of courage and know that we can turn to her for inspiration and guidance on how to endure our own struggles. Allow her to show us the maternal gaze of her Son while we seek to follow and imitate Him.
BA & MA in Religious Studies from Cal State Long Beach
Certified Through the Theology of the Body Institute
Co-Founder of Humana Corpus Dignitate
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