GOD NEEDS YOUR HELP: A HOMILY ON THE MEMORIAL OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
There is a saying that you can take a horse to the river, but you cannot force the horse to drink the water. The same applies to our relationship with God. God created us without us, but He cannot save us without us. Today’s memorial is one of the celebrations that are not recorded in the bible, but that does not make it false. Today, we remember how Joachim and Anne, the parent of Mary, prayed for so many years for a child and did not have one. Then they promised God that if He gives them a child, they will dedicate that child to God and to the temple. God gave them our Mother Mary and they kept their promise. They dedicated her to God and to the temple.
Mary, therefore grew up as a girl dedicated to God. But like all of us, this dedication did not make her automatically holy. In our First Reading as well as our Responsorial Psalm, we are told that the four animals around the throne of God, the lamb, the bull, the human faced and that like a flying eagle are singing day and night ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God, the Almighty.’ This is also what we sing at every mass at the end of the preface and before the consecration. This kind of worship is only due to God. Unlike what some non-catholics think, catholics believe that only God should be worshiped and we do not worship the Blessed Virgin Mary. We are not that stupid. We do not say ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Blessed Virgin Mary.’
We need to differentiate between three levels of spiritual relationships we are involved with. God is the almighty and only Him do we worship. This is called Latria. To say ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ is to say that God’s holiness cannot be put into words. Three is a perfect number and whatever is said three times is said to its superlative degree. It is also to say that there are three persons in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The next relationship we have is what we call Hyperdulia. Hyperdulia is not adoration, because only God is adored. It is, however, a special form of veneration and honor given to the Blessed Virgin Mary, because of her special role in our salvation history, being the mother of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The last form of relationship is what we call dulia, which is the honour we give to the saints. So, when catholics are praying the rosary, or praying to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, etc, they are not doing so with the mindset of Latria, but with the midset of Hyperdulia. Many of my friends do not know my mother personally, but they love her and respect her, because of who she is to me. However, in their minds, they know she is not me. They cant be that stupid. This is why it is stupid for anybody to think we worship Mary. We know the difference between Jesus and Mary. Also, why would you say nasty things about Mary and expect Jesus to be impressed? Somebody cannot insult my mother and still claim we are good friends.
Both Mary and the saints are holy, but not in the same way as God. Their holiness comes from the fact that they were given the grace by God, and they cooperated with that grace. Mary’s cooperation is greater than that of the other saints because she remained sinless all through her life and that is why the Angel Gabriel calls her ‘Full of grace.’ Our gospel tells us of the man who traveled to a distant country to be appointed king and he gave his servants one pound each. One of them was able to make ten more pounds, and the other was able to make five more pounds, but the last servant just kept the money as it is and even insulted the king, calling him wicked. The whole idea is that this servant did not want him to be king. Mary and the Saints are those who have cooperated with God’s plan to be king in our lives. Mary’s cooperation can be compared to that of the man who made ten more pounds and the saints can be the ones who made five more pounds and those in hell are those who just did not cooperate at all.
By virtue of our baptism, we have been dedicated to God. But this dedicattion does not make us automatically holy. We have to first allow God to be king in our lives and we have to cooperate with the graces He has given to us. Of course, God may seem wicked to us. We will all notice in ourselves a desire for holiness. At the same time, there is constant temptation to sin, which as much as we did not ask for it, is in our lives all the same. Then we wonder why God will allow that to be in us and still expect us to be holy. It is like someone who has served a delicious meal and placed it in front of you, but who also has ordered you not to eat the same food. This would appear more like a wicked God than a loving God. But if we cooperate with his grace, we will be able to make some profit in spite of the odds. If we are in charge, it will not work. We have to let Him take absolute control and even that which seem impossible will be made possible by His grace.