We conclude today with a four-part series of homilies that has run concurrently with our parish cluster’s consecration to Jesus through Mary. You will recall that began this series of homilies by reflecting on Jesus’ question to Simon Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” This question is the most important question that we will have to answer in our lives. Jesus asks us, “Do you love me?” Mary gives us a pre-eminent example of what it means to say “yes” to this question. Throughout her life on this earth, Mary loved Jesus with a singular and motherly love. We can grow in our love for Jesus by contemplating how Mary loves our Lord and God and by allowing that contemplation to draw us closer to Christ.
In the next homily, we reflected on hearing the voice of Jesus, our good shepherd. We find it difficult to embrace being sheep because we know that sheep are unintelligent and incapable of making decisions for themselves. We, on the other hand, like to think of ourselves as intelligent, independent citizens in a free society. We regard with great suspicion anyone who claims absolute, unconditional obedience. But Jesus does claim precisely this kind of obedience from us. When we hear our Lord calling us, the appropriate response is, “Let it be done to according to your word.” Mary gives us an excellent example of such total obedience. She also reminds just how sweet the voice of Jesus is and the tenderness that He has for each one of us.
Last week, we took something of a detour and reflected on how Jesus is making all things new in our parish cluster. Many of us here are very far from perfection, but we give thanks to God for the little miracles that He continuously works in our midst. We especially thank Him for the work of renewal that He has been doing in our parish cluster. Jesus makes all things new through the Cross. This means that when we follow Jesus on this road to renewal, we will stumble and fall plenty of times. As she was there for her Son, Mary is there for us along the way to comfort us as we continue our pilgrimage.
Today, we conclude the series of homilies with a reflection on receiving the Holy Spirit as Mary did. In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to us as another Advocate. By receiving the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Trinity comes into us an lives in us. But how do we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promises to send us?
Here we do very well to look at how Mary received the Holy Spirit. When the archangel Gabriel came to her, he told her that she would conceive and bear a Son while still remaining a virgin. Perplexed, Mary asked how this thing could possibly happen. What did Gabriel say?
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore he who will be born of you will be called the Son of God.”
We can hear a text for the Bible so frequently that we miss its meaning. Perhaps such is the case with the conversation between Gabriel and Mary. We have heard it so many times that we fail to grasp the radical nature of what it describes. And what does it describe?
God the Holy Spirit comes into or overshadows Mary. In doing so, Mary becomes the Holy Spirit’s spouse. Many Christians miss this point when they wonder why the Church has always believed at Joseph and Mary never consummated their marriage nor every had children together after Jesus was born. After Mary said yes, the Holy Spirit overshadowed her and she conceived. This imagery is spousal imagery. Joseph dared not touch Mary because he knew that she belonged totally to God….