August 22, 2019
by Eileen Burke-Sullivan
Creighton University's Department of Mission and Ministry
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Lectionary: 422

Judges 11:29-39a
Psalms 40:5, 7-8a, 8b-9, 10
Matthew 22:1-14

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Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Pope John Paul II on the Queenship of Mary

The crowning of Mary as Queen is a medieval image of completion or perfection of God’s plan celebrated a full seven days (remember the biblical number of completion) after her Assumption into the fullness of God’s reign. The feast of the Assumption of Mary – one of the most ancient feasts of the Church has long been a kind of late summer “hurrah!” for God’s plan of Salvation.  Mary is the first fruit of that plan and in her we all find out own future life in God, should we, like her, grant our fealty to God’s Will.  Mary’s profound and simple response to God’s Annunciation of Divine desire is simply “let your will be accomplished in (through) me.”  Later, Jesus will teach the perfect prayer of one who discerns God’s plan: “ May Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 

In the history of the Jewish people outlined in the biblical accounts we know that the twelve tribes begged God to send them a king like the neighboring people had – a king who would make them politically and militarily strong – so that they would hold the “first place” among the nations of the Middle East.  God did not favor that request and protested that he himself (God) would be king enough for them.  But they begged and finally God responded to them by choosing judges or kings to serve in His name on their behalf.  But the temptations are too great for human leaders who simply cannot love their people enough to serve them rather than lord it over them.  Finally, of course, God himself became human and became the perfect human King – and his Mother is the perfect Queen – one who will lay down her life so that the whole creation could be redeemed.  One who would always and only seek to live the will of God. 

The first reading today describes one of those leaders of Judah who bargained with God to be given the power to defeat Israels enemies and become the greatest military power.  His bargain was a dangerous one, however, for it guaranteed the destruction of his house.  Unwittingly he pledged his own daughter’s life away before she could marry and give him grandsons to enjoy the inheritance and power he had just won.  The daughter gives her life to redeem her father’s pledge, however, and thus serves as the savior of her father’s name.

The Gospel, taken from the daily lectionary cycle continues the readings from Matthew’s final “book” of teachings that anticipate the disclosure of God’s reign in the in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Jesus tells a parable of a wedding banquet - the frequent biblical image for the Reign of God.  The Banquet is the locus of the Reign of Peace and Plenty – the time when justice will prevail, and all will enjoy the prosperity of unending mercy and love.  In the marriage that is celebrated God will take the human family as his spouse.  Such a celebration it will be – the guests are invited to receive this extravagant generosity of the only true King. 

As often as I have heard this parable, I felt a sense of shock to hear that the invited guests are too busy about many important things to drop everything and respond to this phenomenal invitation.  The second shock is the recognition that I am one of the “invited guests.”  Through Baptism I have been invited into the reality of the Reign of God – right here on earth – and my companions at the banquet are the poor and the sick, the crippled and the homeless – those long neglected and living on the margins.  My wedding gown – the guarantor of entry to the banquet – is my true “yes” to God’s will, whatever it is in my life. 

The wedding gown is stitched together through the celebration of union with God through Baptism and Eucharist in this life – and above all by my willingness to put away our own self -aggrandizement, as Mary did, and embrace God’s will.

This is what it means to truly be a member of God’s ecclesia – God’s Church, over which Mary reigns as Queen and model.  My – our – wedding garment will be the truth of our prayer: “Behold, I come!  To do your will is my desire.”  When any of us practices the real meaning of this prayer we are united with God in eternal joy and peace – here and now! And, YES, hereafter – for eternity.  This is a wedding song I want to sing and sing again!

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