This outrageously delicate and yet strong flower, surviving snow and ice and many days of freezing temps, was outside the door of my oldest “shut-in” way up in Northwest Graham County. Just as there is a huge difference between merely North Carolina and Western North Carolina, just so is there a difference between merely Graham County and Western Graham County. Yikes!
Not having the photo-app set on “save”, only the image could be saved to screen, as it were, so that I had to take a picture of the picture, hence the “screen waves.” It’s like the original picture, but not quite, enhanced or less so depending on whatever you think.
Meanwhile, the next homily I would give, yesterday, would see me having problems with the recorder once again. So, just one point needs to be brought up.
Sometimes we see things in Scripture we think we’ve seen before. There are the synoptic Gospels; there are the Chronicles, and on it goes. The later citation is either an enhancement or less so depending on whatever you think. Although – hah! – it doesn’t work that was with Sacred Scripture. Everything is most extraordinary. This needs to be stated in these dark times of cynics among biblical “scholars”. A striking example is the “Magnificat” of Mary when she greets Elizabeth recalling Hanna’s declaration in the books of Samuel. Let’s take a look, firstly at Luke 1:46-55:
And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (Luk 1:46-55 NAB)
Now let’s take a look at what Mary is recalling with Hanna and little Samuel of “Here I am Lord! Send me!” fame. This is from 1 Samuel 2:1-10:
And as she worshiped the LORD, she said: “My heart exults in the LORD, my horn is exalted in my God. I have swallowed up my enemies; I rejoice in my victory. There is no Holy One like the LORD; there is no Rock like our God. “Speak boastfully no longer, nor let arrogance issue from your mouths. For an all-knowing God is the LORD, a God who judges deeds. The bows of the mighty are broken, while the tottering gird on strength. The well-fed hire themselves out for bread, while the hungry batten on spoil. The barren wife bears seven sons, while the mother of many languishes. “The LORD puts to death and gives life; he casts down to the nether world; he raises up again. The LORD makes poor and makes rich, he humbles, he also exalts. He raises the needy from the dust; from the ash heap he lifts up the poor, To seat them with nobles and make a glorious throne their heritage. He gives to the vower his vow, and blesses the sleep of the just. “For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, and he has set the world upon them. He will guard the footsteps of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall perish in the darkness. For not by strength does man prevail; the LORD’S foes shall be shattered. The Most High in heaven thunders; The LORD judges the ends of the earth, Now may he give strength to his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed!”
What Mary is doing is “up-dating” Hannah’s comments, not that the comments of Hannah about the infant prophet Samuel of “Here I am, Lord! Send me!” fame are irrelevant because they are in the past, but because they are super intensely relevant because they are being utterly fulfilled with Jesus and the little tiny Jesus in the womb of Mary.
Samuel single-handedly up-ended the entire and by now very corrupt system of temple sacrifice and brought about all the circumstances for the future Son of David, that is, Jesus, with Samuel witnessing the smashing down of Eli, Hophni, Phinehas and then Saul, finally setting up David as priest, prophet and king in his own right.
But, instead, what did I always hear in my biblical studies in Rome in my seminary days and then at the Pontifical Biblical Institute? That probably Mary was an ignorant and illiterate and simple girl who knew nothing about anything and couldn’t possibly have cited Hannah in relation to her own circumstances as this was surely done by a “school” of Jewish and now Catholic scribes in the first century. It’s too brilliant for stupid Mary, they say. “They say.” Sorry for the language, but I think it is appropriate: Who the hell are they?
In a more polite form that is the question I never forgot since the first time I heard it listening to everything that the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen ever preached at least as recorded and reproduced by the at the time “Keep the Faith” ministry. Yes, that’s right. Who are “THEY”? And who do “THEY” think they are.
This dissing of Mary tells me that “THEY” have never understood what intellectual anything is about. They’ve never had the experience, for instance, of noting the good simplicity, as simple as the light, of an Aquinas, or a Catherine of Sienna. It is a wisdom of walking with God, who is truth, now Incarnate. It is the love which judges all things, understands all things, quite instantly. Love is like that. Truth is like that.
Purity of heart. Agility of soul. That’s Mary. That’s the Immaculate Conception.