Archive for category Mary

December 22, 2017: Thoughts on the Seventh Day of Simbang Gabi

“Then Mary said: ‘My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord.’ ” —Luke 1:46

“The Magnificat is the crown of the Old Testament singing, the last canticle of the Old and the first of the New Testament. It was uttered (or, not improbably, chanted) by the Blessed Virgin, when she visited her cousin Elizabeth under the circumstances narrated by St. Luke in the first chapter of his Gospel. It is an ecstasy of praise for the inestimable favour bestowed by God on the Virgin, for the mercies shown to Israel, and for the fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham and to the patriarchs.” [The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX, Copyright (C) 1910 by Robert Appleton Company]

Biblical scholars theorize that The Magnificat or Canticle of Mary was not a pure Lucan composition; he probably got it from the Jewish Christian Anawim, the “poor ones” who relied on the Lord for their salvation. These recognized that in Jesus God has raised them up and saved them according to His promise. Luke sees Mary as their representative and spokesperson and so lets her vocalize their sentiments, retouching the original song to suit Mary’s condition.

As it stands, the Magnificat echoes Old Testament traditions in which men and women sang praise to God for His mighty deeds in behalf of His people Israel. In style and in thematic parallels, it is similar to the Song of Hannah in 1 Sm 2:1-10. Both Mary and Hannah are called “handmaids of the Lord” and both acknowledge that God’s purpose will be achieved through the birth of their respective children. Other comparable songs are the Song of Moses (Ex 15:1-18), the Song of Asaph (1 Chr 16:7-36), and the songs of praise in the book of Psalms (Pss 33, 47, 136).

Structurally, the Magnificat has three parts: The introduction in which Mary proclaims the Lord’s greatness and recognizes Him as her Savior, the body which gives the motives of praise (God’s saving deeds), and the conclusion which recapitulates some of the motives and rehearses the availability of God’s mercy in every generation (see “365 Days with the Lord 2010,” ST PAULS).

With the Magnificat of Mary we are, once again, reminded of our Vocation of Praise. Praising God is a God-appointed calling. Indeed, God has formed for himself a people “that they may proclaim my [God’s] praise” ( Isa 43:21 ; cf. Jer 13:11 ). God’s actions, such as Israel’s restoration from the exile, are to result in God’s “righteousness and praise spring [ing] up before all nations” ( Isa 61:11 ). God has also predestined the church “to the praise of his [God’s] glorious grace” ( Eph 1:6 ; cf. Matt 5:16 ; Eph 1:14 ; Php 1:11 ; 1 Peter 2:9 ). The future vocation of the redeemed in glory is to sing praise to God and the Lamb ( Rev 4:11 ; 5:12-14 ; 7:12 ). Doxologies are fitting because they capture what God intends for people ( Psalm 33:1 ; 147:1 ).

Reasons for Praising God. In addition to being the fulfillment of a calling, praise is prompted by other considerations, chief of which is the unique nature of God ( 1 Chron 29:10-13 ). One genre of the psalms, the hymns, is characterized by an initial summons, such as “Praise the Lord, ” which is followed by a declaration of praise, introduced by the word “for, ” which lists the grounds for offering praise, often God’s majesty and mercy. The shortest psalm ( 117 ), a hymn, offers a double reason for praise: God’s merciful kindness (loyal love) is great, and his truth endures forever. Other hymns point out that God is good ( Ezra 3:10-11 ;Psalm 100:5 ; 135:3 ), or that his ordinances are just ( Psalm 119:164 ), that he remembers his covenant ( Psalm 105:7-8 ), that his love is enduring (Ps. 136), or that he is incomparable ( Psalm 71:19 ). A basic understanding in the hymns, if not in all the psalms, is captured in the theme “The Lord reigns.” God’s kingship is pronounced both in his majestic power displayed through the creation of the world ( Psalm 29 , 104 ) and in his royal rule, often as deliverer, over his people ( Psalm 47 , 68 , 98 , 114 ). As king, God is judge, warrior, and shepherd. Often too, praise is to the name of God ( Psalm 138:2 ; 145:2 ; Isa 25:1 ). That name, Yahweh, conveys the notion that God is present to act in salvation ( Exod 6:1-8 ).

The biblical examples of praise to God, apart from citing his attributes and role, point to God’s favors, usually those on a large scale in behalf of Israel. A hymn in the Isaiah collection exhorts, “Sing praise to the Lord for his glorious achievement” ( Isa 12:5 ; nab ). Exhortations to praise are sometimes followed by a catalogue of God’s actions in Israel’s behalf ( Neh 9:5 ; Psalm 68:4-14 ). God’s most spectacular action involves the incarnation of Jesus, an event heralded in praises by angels in the heavens and shepherds returning to their fields: “Glory to God in the highest” ( Luke 2:14 Luke 2:20 ). Praise is the legitimate response to God’s self-revelation. Personal experiences of God’s deliverance and favor also elicit praise ( Psalm 34 ; 102:18 ; 107 ; cf. Dan 2:20-23 ; Rom 7:25 ; the healed paralytic, Luke 5:25 ; Zechariah, Luke 1:68 ; the response at Nain, Luke 7:16 ; and Jesus himself, Matt 11:25 and her mother Mary Lk 1:46). An intimate relationship of a person or a people with God is sufficient reason for praise. A psalmist, captivated by the reality of God’s choice of Jacob, exhorts, “Sing praise” ( Psalm 135 ; cf. Rev 19:5 ).

Praise means “to commend, to applaud or magnify.” For the Christian, praise to God is an expression of worship, lifting-up and glorifying the Lord. It is an expression of humbling ourselves and centering our attention upon the Lord with heart-felt expressions of love, adoration and thanksgiving. High praises bring our spirit into a pinnacle of fellowship and intimacy between ourselves and God — it magnifies our awareness of our spiritual union with the most high God. Praise transports us into the realm of the supernatural and into the power of God. “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance” (Psalms 89:15).

There are many actions involved with praise to God — verbal expressions of adoration and thanksgiving, singing, playing instruments, shouting, dancing, lifting or clapping our hands. But true praise is not “merely” going through these motions. Jesus spoke about the hypocrisy of the pharisees, whose worship was only an outward show and not from the heart. “This people worship me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8). Genuine praise to God is a matter of humility and sincere devotion to the Lord from within. Unpretentious praise and worship pleases the Lord. The true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him” (John 4:23).

Inspirational story about PRAISE.

An elderly lady was well-known for her faith and for her boldness in talking about it. She would stand on her front porch and shout “PRAISE THE LORD!”

Next door to her lived an atheist who would get so angry at her proclamations he would shout, “There ain’t no Lord!!”

Hard times set in on the elderly lady, and she prayed for GOD to send her some assistance. She stood on her porch and shouted “PRAISE THE LORD. GOD I NEED FOOD!! I AM HAVING A HARD TIME. PLEASE LORD, SEND ME SOME GROCERIES!!”

The next morning the lady went out on her porch and noted a large bag of groceries and shouted, “PRAISE THE LORD.”

The neighbor jumped from behind a bush and said, “Aha! I told you there was no Lord. I bought those groceries, God didn’t.”

The lady started jumping up and down and clapping her hands and said, “PRAISE THE LORD. He not only sent me groceries, but He made the devil pay for them. Praise the Lord!”

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.” Ps. 103:2-4

 

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December 22, 2017: Insights on the SEVENTH DAY OF SIMBANG GABI

 

Mary, who, by her complete obedience and self-offering, pleased God all the days of her life, praised and thanked God for all the great things He has done for her and and because of this as she herself prophesied: “All generations will call me blessed.”

Mary gave flesh to God–
flesh to be visible to human eyes,
flesh to touch the leper’s sores.

Mary gave hands to God–
hands to bless the little children,
hands to break bread for the
hungry millions

Mary gave feet to God–
feet to walk among the sick,
feet to seek out the sinner.

Mary gave eyes to God–
eyes to weep at a friend’s grave,
eyes to look into the depths
of the human heart.

Jesus no longer walks in flesh
today; and if he to heal the sick,
and feed the hungry, it must be
through my hands and my feet.

What is one way I can give flesh
to God in our day?As Mary gave flesh to Jesus
in her day, so we must give flesh
to Jesus in our day.

And if we do as Mary did,
Jesus will walk our world once
more and make it new again.

 

Be Christ incarnate! Be bearers and reflections of Christ in the world! Be “another Christ” in the world! Be the light of Christ, who enlightens the whole world, as the light of the moon that reflects the light of the sun!

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December 20, 2017: Reflection on the FIFTH DAY OF SIMBANG GABI

“God wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the fullness of truth” (1 Tim 2:3-4) – Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). To fulfill this plan of salvation, God begins by giving his people a sign: “The Virgin is with child and bears a son and calls his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). This was fulfilled through the virginal conception and birth of Jesus as announced by angel Gabriel in today’s gospel that Mary will conceive and bear a son and name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins (see Lk 1:26-38). This messianic prophecy was fulfilled when Mary gave her YES TO GOD to become the mother of Jesus, who is the Immanuel which means “the God-with-us,” “God made man (John 1:14),” Lord and God (John 20:28)“in him the fullness of divinity dwells (Col 1:19),” “the Way, the Truth and the life(John 14:6),” our model and teacher of holiness.

“Jesus Christ is the central figure of the world’s history. The world cannot forget Him while it remembers history, for history is His story. To leave Him out would be like astronomy without stars, or like botany with the flowers forgotten. Horace Bushnell said, “It would be easier to untwist all the beams of light in the sky and to separate and erase one of the primary colors, than to get the character of Jesus out of the world.” The history of the race since it’s inception has been the history of the preparation for His coming. The Old Testament foretells His coming in type, symbol, and direct prophesy. The history of His people Israel is a story of expectation, of yearning, of preparation. The fact of Jesus Christ is not only firmly imbedded in human history and written upon the open page of Scripture, but is also experientially embodied in the lives of millions of believers and interwoven in the fabric of all civilization worthy of the name. …. You may have Confucianism without Confucius; Buddhism without Buddha; Islam without Muhammad; Mormonism without Joseph Smith; and Christian Science without Mary Baker Eddy. But you cannot have Christianity without Christ, for strictly speaking, Christianity is Christ, and Christ is Christianity. It is not primarily a religion, but a life; and the life is His life made living in men. “Christ in you, the hope of glory”.

Indeed, angel Gabriel was right when he, through his greeting, beautifully describes Mary “full of grace”, “the Lord is with you,” who with her “FIAT” or YES TO GOD became the “Theotokos” meaning the “Bearer of God,” the “Mother of God.”

“The way to salvation is the divine will: a royal way, entirely straight and sure, which leads to God. The one who follows it cannot be led astray. Hence, seek the will of God, nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else. Sanctity properly so-called consists in simple conformity to the Divine will expressed in the exact and constant fulfillment of the duties of one’s proper state. Seek, therefore, the will of God: nothing more, nothing less, nothing else” (Pope Benedict XV).

“Complete” obedience does not mean that we have never sinned by disobeying but that we have committed ourselves to obeying the Lord “in every aspect of (our) conduct” (see 1 Pt 1:15). We have decided on “complete coverage” in our obedience. We obey the Lord speaking through the Church, in the Bible, through the Pope, bishops, authorities, husbands, parents, and leaders. To do this, we have learned what the Bible says and what the Church and Pope teach. We obey the Lord in our relationships, sexuality, money, possessions, time, work, speaking, eating, sleeping, recreation, etc. There are no areas of our lives where we haven’t tried to know God’s will or where we don’t even think of obeying God. We are living lives of complete obedience (see 1 Pt 1:2). We’re not trapped into the selfish emptiness of doing our own thing. We live a life of love, for obedience is an essential way of expressing our love (see Jn 15:10; 1 Jn 5:3).

Like Mary’s FIAT, let us give our YES TO GOD who calls us to sanctification and salvation, who calls us to the life and mission of the church!

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