Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The feast of the Queenship of Mary concludes a sort of Marian octave that began with the feast of the Assumption the week before. The crowning of Mary as Queen is the last mystery of the rosary, and it indicates to us just how glorious man’s role is in God’s eternal designs. In Jesus Christ, we are called to be God’s partner in the drama of salvation in the way that Mary does, by giving a complete and unreserved “yes” to God who desires to share his divine life with us, a life that is love itself. But heaven is not an “autonomous” place to which we “graduate” after a period of training, as a sort of reward. No. Rather, the true life which constitutes our true freedom as children of God is to live so profoundly from the grace of God that all of our intentions, our actions, and our thoughts are purely ordered to the service and praise of the divine Majesty (cf. SpEx 46). When people see us, they see no longer us, but Christ living within us. And yet, in this, we are more ourselves than ever before. We see this in Mary in an exemplary way. She is so united to God that her “reign” as Queen is nothing other than an expression of God’s own reign which enfolds it.
The Gospel of the day is a favorite of Protestants who fault Catholics for calling priests “father,” and we would do well to listen to their objections, which are not without some merit. But we should note that Jesus also counsels against calling people “teacher” (“rabbi” means “teacher”) and “master.” Most of those who fault Catholics for calling priests “father” seem to commit the same error when they call someone “professor” or the one who hires them “boss.” For that matter, one could even understand Jesus’ words such that they say that a child should not call her natural father “father.” Can you imagine with what shock a father might hear his young daughter say that she should not call him “father” anymore because Jesus said not to do so (though that is probably not what Jesus had in mind)?
Perhaps a way to understand this Gospel would be to consider that Jesus wants us to realize that it is God alone who is truly father, teacher, and master, and that when we use these titles for anyone else on earth (including our natural father), we recognize that it applies to that person only in a derivative way. This can be helpful to us in several ways: first of all, if I am a teacher, I can use this knowledge to always remind myself that I only exercise the office of teacher legitimately when I do so in accord with the true Teacher, who is God. Conversely, people who have a hard time calling God “Father” because of the difficulties that they may have had with one or both parents growing up can keep in mind—as Francis of Assisi did after his conversion—that God is always our true Father. Our heavenly Father comes first and should not be judged on the basis of the failings of his representatives. When these titles are appropriately used by human beings, they ought to point us back to God, in a way that does not diminish God’s glory, but only increases it, by showing how he makes use of human representatives to do his will. Let us ask for the grace to truly be God’s representatives when we are entrusted by God with some authority or care for others, and let us ask for the grace to recognize that those who have authority over us are but representatives of God, who cares for us as Father, Teacher, and Master.
August 22nd, 2015