Ever Virgin Bride And Mother
August 12, 2017
Verse: Luke 1:49
Christ Lutheran Church
August 13, 2017
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
St. Mary, Mother of our Lord
Ever Virgin Bride And Mother
From henceforth all generations shall bless me, for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name! Luke 1:49
We have two orders of business before us today. First to learn anew what veneration is due the Blessed Virgin by the baptized. Secondly to understand the three images that the Mother of our Lord provides for the church, that of virgin, bride and mother.
It is remarkable how old prejudices can linger for so long, specifically the theological disputes of the 16th century. Disputes which are still alive and well 500 years later though the threat is past. It reminds us of the Civil War soldier who, devoid of rapid communications, continues to fight long after the treaty is signed.
In our case the disputes have never been settled. No victory or defeat has ever been declared by Rome, or the churches of the Reformation. But the strife is over and the battle done. Rome, which once wielded civil as well as ecclesiastical power used the sword to persecute all objectors, even to the point of shedding blood. But that is no longer the case. Not only has Rome lost the sword, but no one seems to care anymore. Rome does what she does, and Lutherans do what they do in spite of unresolved contests.
People often remark that Lutherans and Catholics are almost the same thing, and to view things from the outside they’re not wrong. But when you look under the hood things get a bit more complicated.
None-the-less, considering today’s feast, we must assert that as important as the Mother of God (theotokos) is to our salvation we do not pray to her, or ask her to pray for us. We don’t do it because there is no Scriptural command, example, or even slight suggestion in that direction. But that’s not the end of the problem. Marian prayer assumes that our dear Lord Jesus Christ – he who opened heaven for us, purged our sins, taught us to pray, invites us to pray, and gave us the name to pray by – it assumes that he is inaccessible to us. That he will turn a deaf ear to us because of our sins; and that we can only get to him by way of his Mother whom he will never deny.
Christians are comfortable with paradox, but both of those doctrines cannot! stand side by side. For we have a Great High Priest who passed through the heavens and entered the Holy of Holies on our behalf. Not with the blood of goats and bulls as in the Old Testament; but with his own precious blood; poured out as an Offering on the cross; by which we have access into “the grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:2); and there’s nothing better than that!
But nor are Lutherans without fault because they have thrown out the baby with the bathwater. In rejecting the errors of Rome, they have also rejected the good things. Rather than venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Unique (O that there were a stronger word!) person she is, we have excluded her from our orbit, and that is wrong! A breach of Christian faith; and a denial of today’s gospel in which the Virgin proclaims by the Holy Spirit … “From henceforth all generations shall bless me.”
We are those generations! And so it is a proclamation we should jubilantly make, because if Jesus is our Brother, then Mary is also our Blessed and Holy Mother.
But how do we do that? As we said earlier, we venerate her but don’t worship her, we bless her but don’t pray to her . And so how does the church of all generations perform this word from today’s Gospel?
The chief way the church blesses the Virgin is by commemorating her glorious role in our salvation. It’s a commemoration that traditionally is made in the Eucharistic Prayer, which is the church’s prayer of consecration. A prayer of which Lutherans know little, but of which we will learn more in the coming months, as Lutherans continue to move back onto the reservation of the “one, holy, catholic (nor RC) and apostolic church.”
And there is a vital reason to do so and it is this: that the Blessed Virgin is the image of the church who is ever virgin, bride and mother, and now let us learn what that means.
It is a chief article of Christian religion that Mary conceived her Holy child while remaining a Virgin. The importance of this fact cannot be overstated. For while she is the Lord’s true mother, his Father is none other than God the Heavenly Father. Not only was Mary a virgin before the Lord’s conception. But except for a relatively small number of protestors (Protestants) the church confesses that she remained a Virgin for her entire life. And it is this doctrine, the perpetual virginity of Mary, that has elevated womanhood in ways before unknown. That has both guarded the weaker sex, and made her strong. That has made her more magnificent, and given her more status than feminism ever can or ever will.
As Holy Mary is ever virgin, so the redeemed church is ever virgin shunning the love of false gods, false suitors who, in jiggelo-like fashion, promise her the world, but deliver nothing. Many women have learned the hard way what this means. But this virgin loves only One, serves only One, and looks for him and him alone, to receive his name in holy baptism, and thereby to gain her true identity in him. You are that Virgin!
But virginity is not an end in itself, but the betrothed Virgin patiently awaits union with her Groom so that she may become Bride. But nor is Bride an end in itself. But it anticipates the consummation, instead, wherein the Groom fills her womb with life. And it is precisely here where Bride reaches her highest purpose and become Mother. A vocation that is presently marked by more sorrow than joy; but one that will end in splendor and magnificence that no tongue can tell.
The vocation of Mother, then, is an image of the church, who is according to Holy Scripture “the mother of us all.” (Galatians 4:26). All who are born children of God are conceived and nourished in her womb. In the words of St. Cyprian of Carthage, "You cannot have God for your Father if you do not have the Church for your mother.”
But alas, time fails us. And so today let us remember the all Holy and Blessed Virgin, thank God for the “fruit of her womb, Jesus,” and join all generations in praising our great God and Savior by “blessing his Mother.” Amen.