Psalm: 119:25-48
Gospel: John 7:53-8:11
Patristic Reading: Excerpt from a sermon on the Virgin Mary by St. Anselm

Icon of Anna and Mary

 

Despite being raised a Roman Catholic, I have never latched onto Marian devotions. I think it was always hard for me to picture someone as Immaculately conceived and yet still remaining human. Luckily for me–as an Anglican–I don’t have to buy that Roman doctrine wholesale.

Still….I think the innocence of Mary, and of her act of submission at the Annunciation are very important for us to reflect on this evening.

From a very early period, the Church sought to give Mary a place of distinction. As the Theotokos (God-bearer) she clearly was a special woman. In debating the Nestorian controversy, the Council of Ephesus (431 CE) argued that to deny the grace and favour shown to Mary would–in effect–deny the very possibility of the Incarnation.

If Mary was simply the Mother of Christ, and not the Mother of God…..there was a severe comprise of the equality and co-substantial nature of the Triune God.

For these reasons, there was a conscious effort on the part of the Church to emphasize both the perpetual virginity of Mary, and of her pure conduct .

How could Mary be a sinner when the Word made Flesh dwelt within her very womb? How could she turn to sin when she had the King of Glory playing on her knee?

We honour Mary not just for her moral character, but for her close contact with the Saviour and Redeemer of the world. The whole of the Christian life is about drawing nearer to Jesus…in our thoughts, in our actions, and in our hearts. No one was closer to Jesus than Mary.

What is most often misunderstood about Marian devotion is that it is not meant as a worship of Mary herself. Any contemplation of Mary, must by its nature lead to the fruit of her womb; Jesus the Christ, Emmanuel, the Word made flesh.

Secondly, Mary is important because of her “yes” to God. I’ll talk about this more in a few months at the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25th)….but it was Mary who helped bring about the redemption of the world.

There are some theologians who argue that Christ coming into the world was immanent, irrespective of Mary’s assent. Quite frankly they are full of crap ;). If you look throughout the Bible, God has a deep respect for the human free will. He will do nothing without first offering a covenant to his people.

The problem is….up to the beginning of the New Testament, humanity’s response to God was a firm “no.” resulting in a world lost in sin, chaos and destruction.

By Mary’s “yes”, a New Creation was started, the Son was born and a new way of salvation was opened to all people. +