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The Virgin Mary – The Mother of the Church – Monday after Pentecost
Readings: Gen 3:9-15, 20; Jn 19:25-34
1/ First Reading: Genesis 3:9-15 9 But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom thou gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate.” 14 The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:20 20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.
2/ Gospel: John 19:25-34 25 So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. 28 After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfil the scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished”; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. 31 Since it was the day of Preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the sabbath (for that sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him; 33 but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.
THEME: The Virgin Mary, New Eve, is the Mother of the Church.
Why does the Church want us to celebrate today memorial as the Virgin Mary, New Eve, as the Mother of the Church right after the Pentecost? We know the Pentecost signified the official birth of the Church because all Jesus’ apostles and disciples together with the Virgin Mary are the first members of the Church, after they are filled with the Holy Spirit’s graces and strength, got out their room and into the world to preach the Good News according to Jesus’ will.
But does this new Church have anything that related to the two first people of the humankind? We learned this relation in chapter 5 of St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans when he said: As by the sin of one person, all people must die; so also by the obedience of one person, all are saved (Adam and Jesus). Adam sinned through Eve’s temptation; Jesus was born by the answer “Yes” of the Virgin Mary.
Two readings today are well chosen by the Church to clarify God’s plan of salvation. The first reading reported of the destruction of good things created for people by the first two persons, Adam and Eve, through their disobedience. Eve was named as “the mother of all living.” The Gospel reported the faithfulness and the obedience of Jesus and Mary. Jesus wanted His Mother to be also as the mother of all His disciples whom were chosen by Him to continue His salvation for humankind; so too the Virgin Mary is also officially called the Mother of the Church.
1/ First Reading: Because of the disobedience of the first couple, Adam and Eve, sins entered the world and as the result of sins, all people must die.
1.1/ The disobedience of Adam and Eve: The Book of Genesis reported the Fall of the first couple and their reaction when they must face God as following: 9 But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
– Adam said, “The woman whom thou gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?”
– The woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate.”
1.2/ The punishments resulted from disobedience: God gave the following punishments for three sinners:
(1) Adam: Three punishments which Adam must endured:
– Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field;
– In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken;
– Must be died: You are dust, and to dust you shall return.
(2) Eve: Three punishments which Eve must endured:
– I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children;
– Yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.
– Must also be died: This is understood as a sequence because Eve is also a human being.
(3) The serpent: was also endured three punishments:
– Upon your belly you shall go;
– Dust you shall eat all the days of your life;
– I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
Who is the woman whom God put enmity with the serpent? This is the Blessed Mary whom God foretold for humankind. Who is the seed of the woman? This is Jesus Christ and His Church. In the fighting, God declared the victory shall belong to Jesus and Mary when God said: “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
After that, Adam named his wife Eve (hawah) because she is the mother of all living (hay).
2/ The Gospel: Through Mary and Jesus’ obedience to the point of accepting death on the Cross, God took away people’s sins and the death sentence for humankind.
2.1/ Because the answer “Yes” of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became flesh in Mary’s womb.
We learned Mary’s obedience when the archangel Gabriel came and announced the news from God to Mary: And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her (Lk 1:38). Right after the Virgin Mary said “Yes,” the child Jesus, the Son of God, took the flesh of human being and began the work of salvation which are to destroy sins and the death sentence caused by Adam and Eve.
Mary’s obedience is not limited only in the Annunciation; but all her life is the answer “yes” to God though she had to face many difficulties and sufferings. She accepted all of them and accompanied her Son to Golgotha hill and courageously stood at foot of the Cross to suffer with her Son. Not only that, she obeyed Jesus to become Jesus’ beloved disciple, the image of the future Church. In this Church, there shall have many beloved children who obey Jesus’ commandments; but still not lacking stubborn children who become like swords that pierce through her heart as Simeon’s prophecy. Mary accepted all because she loves Jesus, her Son, and human beings because they are also her children. In brief, Mary answered “yes” to God and faithfully obeys Him to the end.
2.2/ Because the effects of Jesus’ Passion and Death, God took away the death sentence for human beings and recovered the dignity of God’s children for them (Rom 5:12-19).
St. Paul in the Letter to the Romans is the first one who recognized the relationship between the original sin and Jesus’ plan of salvation. He said: “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned — sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the gratuitous gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the gratuitous gift in the grace of that one man, Jesus Christ abounded for many” (Rom 5:12-15).
As Adam sinned by Eve’s temptation, God’s salvation plan is achieved through the answer “yes” of Mary. Like Eve is the cause of Adam’s falling, the Virgin Mary is also the cause for Jesus’ plan of salvation. If Mary shared sufferings with Jesus, she also shared with His glory.
St. Paul concluded chapter 5 of his Letter to the Romans with these following words: “Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Rom 5:18-19).
2.3/ Because of Jesus’ will and the obedience of Mary and the beloved children, the Virgin Mary became the Mother of the Church, formed by Jesus Christ.
St. John reported the event when Jesus simply set His mother Mary as the Mother of the Church under the foot of the Cross: When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (Jn 19:26-27)
As St. Irenaeus said: “By her obedience, the Blessed Mary became the cause of salvation for herself and all humankind.” Together with St. Irenaeus, many of the Church’s Fathers also said: “The knot made by Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience. That which the virgin Eve tied by her lacking faith; the Virgin Mary untied it by her faith. Compared the Blessed Mary with Eve, the Church Fathers called Mary as “the Mother of all living people” and they also said: “Through Eve, there is death; and through Mary there is life (LG 56).
APPLICATIONS IN LIFE:
– By God’s will, Eve became the mother of all sinful people. By God’s will also, the Virgin Mary became the Mother of the Church, the Mother of all people who are purified by Jesus’ water and precious blood.
– The disobedience caused many sufferings for Adam, Eve and all humankind. The obedience of Jesus and Mary took away sins and the death sentence for people. We should imitate Jesus and Mary to be loyal and to obey God until the end whatever we promised to Him.
– The Mother Mary always loves and cares for all her children. She is the effective intercessor for us before God’s throne. We should always come to her for help and to beg her to intercede for us with God.