Today we celebrate the memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Did you happen to notice that neither one of the readings for mass today are about Mary though? Isn’t that a bit odd? Why didn’t the church at least mention her in the readings today?
Part of the problem is that there really isn’t very much recorded about Mary in the scriptures. What little of the scriptures that refer to Mary, are used in other more important feast days that we celebrate, like the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Christmas, etc. Mary is actually mentioned very little in the gospels and neither was saint Joseph. After all, the apostles that wrote the gospels were mostly concerned with writing about Jesus’ life and Mary was important enough to mention only in connection with her son. Before you get offended with this, don’t. Because Mary herself “magnified the Lord” and never drew attention to herself at all. Her life was spent in service to God, her son Jesus and saint Joseph. Mary said “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord”. Mary never looked at herself as anything but the mother of Jesus and a servant of God.
Today, we celebrate Mary’s Queenship. Mary’s Queenship was not full of pomp and circumstance during her lifetime. She didn’t wear fine clothes or live in a mansion and have servants wait on her every need. Mary didn’t have a nanny and saint Joseph was the only chauffeur she had and the only ride he gave her was on the back of a donkey! Maybe a cart sometimes. When Mary and Joseph went to offer their sacrifice in the temple they could only afford a pair of turtle doves, which was the offering of the poor. (Luke 2:24) And let’s not forget where she gave birth to the creator of the universe’s son! A stable, a poor place where the animals lived. She didn’t even have a proper bed to give birth to baby Jesus and no midwives to help her either.
And do we think we should have things better than Mary? Hmmmm. God seems to treat those He loves the most with little regard. Or so it seems. In reality, Mary’s Queenship is not of this earth, but neither was Christ’s Kingship. Jesus and Mary both were poor. We should remember this. They were both poor, and yet they were the two holiest human beings that ever walked on the earth. No one in our modern world would pay them much attention if they walked among us as ordinary people today, because they were not movie stars, or rock stars, or a famous sports figure. No, their holiness did not lie in earthly things.
The first reading for mass today is about Jephthah’s daughter. Jephthah made a pact with God that if He would help him defeat his enemies in battle he would sacrifice the first person who walked out of his home when he returned. What on earth was the man thinking? It turned out to be his only daughter. We should pay attention to this, and not make rash promises that might be hard to keep either. Jephthah’s daughter was a virgin and it sounds like it was a big deal that she was going to die a virgin, because she went away for two months to cry about her virginity, that she had never known a man, before she was to be sacrificed.
Contrast this with Our Lady. Mary accepted God’s will for her even though she was a virgin. She asked the angel Gabriel “how can this be since I have no relations with a man?” Then after his explanation, she said “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it done to me according to your word.” This is why Mary is our Queen. This is why Mary is the Queen of Heaven. She is filled with grace and is the holiest woman who ever walked the face of the earth. Her beauty lies not in outward things. Her beauty is the purity of her life and her openess to God’s will at any given moment in her life, from the startling discovery from the angel that she was to be the mother of the son of God, all the way to standing at the foot of the cross, watching her son die an agonizing death. She accepted the whole thing willingly. She accepted God’s will without question. Mary loved God above every single thing in her life, even her own family. She willingly faced her family’s certain misconceptions and unbelief, especially knowing how saint Joseph might initially take the news that she was with child. Mary could have been stoned to death for being found pregnant with a child out of wedlock, but she still said “yes” to God. This is why she is our Queen. This is why we honor her, and love her above all the other saints. Mary is the greatest saint of all. She is the Queen of the saints.
The gospel reading today is the parable Jesus gave us about the kingdom of heaven being compared to a wedding banquet that a king threw for his son and no one had the time or the inclination to come. (We should remember this the next time we are invited to a family reunion or a friend’s party.)
We could also look at this parable about the kingdom of heaven today in another way. How often do we pray the rosary? Do we take the time to pray it very often? When we pray the rosary do we rush through it, just saying the words as fast as we can? If you ever lead a group rosary do you also pray it so fast that it is difficult for others to keep up? Maybe next time, we could slow our prayers down when we pray the rosary and give ourselves time to reflect on the prayers and reflect a little more on Christ’s life. Mary always points us to her son and not herself. But, today, it might be nice if we prayed the glorious mysteries of the rosary and think of Mary, so pure and lowly and yet she is the Queen of heaven. God lifted up a lowly, young Jewish girl and made her the Queen of Heaven. Let us honor her today in our prayers as our Queen too. How could we not love the mother of Jesus who looks over us each day with such love and concern for us? Mary loves us as only a mother can and we love her as our most Holy Queen of both heaven and earth.