In this month of May, we celebrate Mary’s vocation with special honors around the world. In an annual ritual an image of Mary is crowned with a wreath of flowers. For us Missionaries of the Sacred Heart we will celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart on Saturday, May 28.
Our focus today is reflecting on Mary’s intimate commitment to and relationship with the Holy Trinity. As an analogy, we can see Mary entered a relationship with the Father similar to her predecessors, Abraham, Moses, and King David. If we see a covenant in terms of a sacred commitment of relationship between God and His people, then we can rightly by analogy claim that Mary entered a similar relationship with the Father, in preparation for the His final and everlasting covenant in Jesus.
A covenant is quite different than a contract. A contract serves as a business proposition. A covenant involves a deep entry of the whole person into a perpetual commitment. A covenant transforms a promise through an oath “invoking God’s holy name for assistance and blessing.”1
In scripture we see that God is the one who initiates a relationship to bring about a binding commitment of solidarity, love, and fidelity. One always has the free choice to accept or reject God’s invitation. Covenants in the bible always include three essential elements. First a covenant begins with God’s invitation to freely enter into an intimate familial and friendship relationship with God. Second, there is a swearing of an oath from the one called. This oath is binding under the penalty of death and is made freely. Third, there is a sealing of the bond between God and the other through a ritual. Once a covenant is sealed, both parties are bound to loyalty and favor to each other.
In Luke, God invites Mary to be the Mother of Jesus, and we see this woman “full of grace,” freely accepting the Father’s will. Her oath of acceptance was “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”2 In her freedom she is completely open to the will of God. The sealing of this her commitment is the Holy Spirit who “will overshadow” her so that she might conceive and bear the Son of God. Through Mary comes Jesus, the final and everlasting covenant between God and humanity.3 Indeed, “without Mary the entire process of God’s stepping onto history would fail in its object, which is to achieve that very thing that is central in the Creed—that God is a God with us and not just a God in himself and for himself.”4 Accordingly Mary is the “true daughter of Zion, toward whom hopes have yearned throughout all the devastations of history. She is the true Israel in whom old and new covenant, Israel and Church, are indivisibly one. She is the ‘people of God’ bearing fruit through God’s gracious power.”5 Mary stood in for all of us, saying yes to God. She prepared the way for God to bring to fruition, the New Covenant that He makes with us through Jesus Christ.
Mary’s fidelity to God’s covenant never wavered. Her commitment to her covenant with God led her to first recognize the God who loves us with a human heart. Her faithfulness brought her to Calvary, where she witnessed the piercing of this Heart. In this scene we see Mary’s reason for her Magnificat because the pierced Heart of Christ, “the greatest of all wonders, sums up, explains and expresses the totality of God’s love as Creator and Savior.”6
Today Mary continues to be an example of Abraham. Here Mary, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, invites us to be faithful to our covenant made at baptism. She invites us to journey with her, to Calvary to contemplate the pierced Heart of Christ. Here she invites us to be faithful to our own baptismal covenant with the Heart of her Son, the God who loves us with a human heart, Jesus Christ, the One who established our solidarity with God forever. With Mary, we offer ourselves to God so that God will re-create, transform, renew and refresh us into his Son’s image and likeness that we may disciples of His saving love wherever we are led. Like Mary, may our hearts always be united with the Heart of her Son.
May the Sacred Heart of Jesus Be Loved Everywhere. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, pray for us.
by Br. Warren Perrotto, MSC
- Scott Hahn, A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God’s Covenant Live in Scripture, Cincinnati: Servant Books, St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1998, p. 24.
- 2 Luke 1:37.
- 3 Cf. Luke 1:26-34.
- 4 Scott Hahn, Covenant and Communion: The Biblical theology of Pope Benedict XVI, Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2009, p. 175, Footnote 35.
- 5 Ibid, p. 133, Footnote 75.
- 6 Caldelari, MSC (retreat notes)