Friday, August 22, 2008


Friday in the 20th Week of Ordinary Time
Memorial of the Queenship of Mary
Fulfilling the Futile


Readings: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 107:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9; Matthew 22:34-40
Picture: CC Todd Huffman

Today, eight days from the solemn feast of the Assumption, we celebrate the Queenship of Mary. And, quite coincidentally, although the Mass readings are taken from those prescribed for Ordinary Time, they are marvelously appropriate for helping us to reflect upon at least one key characteristic that distinguishes Mary as Queen, as someone whose spiritual authority we respect and revere, as well as strive to emulate. The readings do this by inviting us to imagine two scenes, one involving the prophet Ezekiel, and the other, Jesus the Lord. The first is as dramatic as the other is mundane. Yet, on closer examination, both bear a striking resemblance to each other.

What probably captures our attention most of all in the first reading is the incredible transformation brought about by the power of God’s Word. A valley full of dry bones becomes populated by an immense army. The dead are brought back to life. And what’s even more amazing is that God promises to do the same for the whole House of Israel. God promises to raise them from their graves to the fullness of life. Even so, we may perhaps pause to consider how God chooses to effect this startling transformation through the ministry of Ezekiel. Imagine for a moment what it might have been like to stand in the shoes of the prophet. How might he have felt as he gazed upon that desolate valley reeking with the smell of death? What might have been his initial reaction upon hearing God’s instruction to prophesy to the bones? Speaking to the dead? Could one conceive of anything more futile than that? And yet, the prophet obeys. He trusts in the power of God’s Word, and of the breath of God’s Spirit. He prophesies. And the dead are brought back to life.

We find something of the same defiant hope in Jesus’ exchange with the lawyer in the gospel. Although what Jesus encounters is not quiet a valley of bones, we might be forgiven for making a connection between the scene from the first reading and the dry cynicism of the one who questions the Lord. Could anything be more futile than to converse with someone who seems out only to criticize? And yet, Jesus does not shrink from the encounter. Instead, he uses the opportunity to present an invaluable teaching: the greatest and first commandment.

Which brings us to Mary. For who is Jesus but the Word of the Father? And how does the Father choose to speak this Word except through the generous consent of Mary. Like Ezekiel, relying upon the breath of the Holy Spirit, Mary courageous speaks the Father’s Word of Life over the dry bones of the human race. As futile a project as it may have seemed, and as costly a sacrifice as it might have involved, Mary did not flinch. She spoke. And we were brought back to life. Isn’t this reason enough to proclaim her as our Queen? And not just to proclaim, but also to beg her to obtain for us the same defiant hope that she had. So that even in the face of apparently futile situations – both around and within us – we will yet find the courage to prophesy. As children of so wonderful a Mother, as subjects of so splendid a Queen, can we do anything less?

How, and in what situations, are we being invited to prophesy today?

3 comments:

  1. You have painted the Mother of God is such a special light, I'm still bathed in her glow. Indeed she is blessed amongst women.
    To trust in God is the mission of those who choose to follow the dictates of the Man-God, under the watchful guidance of His mother.
    As I look back, each of our own maternal mother has done wonders for us despite poor education with simple acceptance, bereft of a worldview.
    We would not be what we are today without their maternal instinct and protective love. My mum queued overnight at SJI just to ensure that I get into a good Christian school.
    We were raised with gifts without knowing what that means.
    Long live mothers who sacrifice for the love of their offsprings.

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  2. Could anything be more futile than to converse with someone who seems out only to criticize?

    There are times when I've felt that others are only out to criticize me. And there are times when it suddenly dawned on me that others thought that I was only out to criticize them.

    Now looking back, I wonder whether I've been too defensive sometimes in the former case, or too tactless (not speaking the truth in love) in the latter case.

    Whatever is the case, I pray that God would give me the grace to repent if there's a grain of truth and not to be disturbed (and even thank God) if the criticism is unjustified.

    And follow the advice of St. Paul in Titus 2:7-8, "Show yourself as a model of good deeds in every respect, with integrity in your teaching, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be criticized, so that the opponent will be put to shame without anything bad to say about us."

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  3. What could be more futile than trying to talk to someone who does not want to be contactable? And when this person had made many promises and gotten what she wanted, but not yet kept her promises? Does one keep believing and trying or just give up on her?

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