After over a month of being in quarantine, I am certain that we are all tired of reading about ways to cope, strategies to stay busy, and all things related to Coronavirus news…I know that I am! There is so much happening in the world but it is so easy to be consumed by the reality that our world has changed at great length because of this global pandemic. While I cannot imagine the real suffering that is occurring because of the illness itself, lost jobs, and the anxiety of being “locked up” at home, I must say that I have found great hope in seeing so many from our own community and beyond, who have hunkered down in hope and have made great strides in choosing joy in the midst of so much sorrow and confusion. The patroness of this particular month is accustomed to choosing joy in the midst of sorrow; Mother Mary is the patroness of the month of May and there is no clearer time than the present for her patronage to shine forth in our own lives. The month of May has traditionally been dedicated to Mary since the 11th century but it has an even more ancient background. Traditionally, the ancient Greeks dedicated the month of May to Artemis who is the goddess of fecundity and the Romans dedicated May to honor the goddess Flora, who is the goddess of bloom or blossoms, which both undoubtedly were related to the spring flowers blooming in the month of May. At some point in the 11th century, the Catholic Church turned the focus to Mary because it is in her example and through her intercession that flowers may not bloom, but something far more important.
Mary’s uniqueness was not dependent on her job, because she didn’t have one; her uniqueness was not dependent on her status or money because she was just a normal Jewish girl. She didn’t even marry into uniqueness because her hubby was just a simple carpenter. Her uniqueness, her power, her strength, and what set her apart from the rest of creation, what made her even higher than all mankind and even the angels, were none of these things, but her holiness. Holiness is real power and real strength and that is what set Mary apart. Real power and strength does not come from managerial decisions but from holiness. It is holiness given by God that prepared Mary from the time of her conception, in all her cooperation, to bring about the savior of mankind.
The important thing to remember is that God did not set Mary apart for her own sake, and the life of Mary itself did not point to her own life, but to the life of her Son: the One from whom all goodness and mercy flows. Mary said those words to the angel, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” She was unique and set apart, yet she was radically given to the will of God; she radically gave her life away for the sake of God and for the sake of the rest of the human race. That’s where we learn what we must learn from this month’s celebration: that we are called to give of our lives in obedience to God, and only in giving our lives do we find real power and strength. When Mary gave her life at that moment, she was only fulfilling what she was created to do…what she was made for. In fact, it made her more herself by saying “yes” to God. God doesn’t call us to be boring but to be Holy! That idea often scares us because to be holy is to mean that we are not in control anymore; holiness changes us and those around us in amazing ways.
The Incarnate God, whom we celebrate and rejoice particularly during this Easter Season, who is all-powerful and who holds our lives in his hand offers us real power and real strength. What and who we celebrate this month should challenge us and the way we live because we live in challenging times. But more than ever our world, our country, your families, needs saints because only saints and only real strength and power, ultimately, only holiness will change the world. Be saints, nothing less.
In Christ & Mary,