Readings for August 15, 2021
Revelation 11:19, 12:1-6, 10
Psalm 45:10-12, 16
1 Corinthians 15:20-27
My mom was a tough biscotti. The only daughter of Italian immigrants, her father was a union organizer, who, perhaps, made most of his money as a gambler (the details of which are somewhat muted). Her beloved uncles were a rough-and-tumble group who ran an HVAC and roofing company. Her mother had been the matriarch of her five brothers, and my mom followed in her footsteps as the matriarch of her cousins. Mom was also the first to complete college. She taught middle school and never flinched. Never. Standing a whisker over five feet, she had a commanding presence at school and at home. And while the second of her four sons (me) did not always keep within her good graces, we all did well to listen to her.
She was also quick with an “I love you, honey!” and a “can I get you something to eat?” In the thick of it all, we knew if we really wanted something important, we needed to ask mom. Dad knew this also as he would meet any question for something other than wanting the car on a Saturday night with, “ask mom.” Mom was the gatekeeper and she loved her boys. She would always help us get what was truly important to us. And when we needed help, she made sure my dad made haste to the hill country (or wherever our trouble was found).
Similarly in Jesus’ upbringing, it should never be assumed that Joseph was anything less than a critical part of his life. Yet he has no spoken words recorded in the Bible. And as for another biblical father, Zechariah spoke but it got him in some trouble and he was rendered mute until John was born, leaving Elizabeth as the spoken leader. In the story of our savior, then, as in my own, it was important to understand that to receive what was most important, “ask mom” was a likely response from Jesus’ patriarchs.
And so it goes that we Catholics believe that to “ask mom” is still an important way to pray to Jesus. As an intercessor, Mary, “full of grace” and “blessed among women,” provides a straight path to her son–God’s Son–whom she loved. Some misunderstand the Catholic devotion to Mary. We do not worship Mary; worship is reserved for God alone. Rather, we venerate her—as did Elizabeth and, from the womb, John, in today’s Gospel. We do so because, as I knew to be true while growing up, if there’s something important at stake, ask mom.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen