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The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Love of Honor

StMary1Whenever one tries to approach the Blessed Virgin Mary to understand the secrets behind her life, one’s mind gets boggled and baffled by them. For, while a lot of women and leaders of women’s movements fight to obtain rights and honor, this simple poor girl appeared on the scene of events to become not only higher than those on earth but also those in heaven. As St. Isaac the Syrian said, “whoever runs after honor, it runs away from him and whoever runs away from honor willfully honor chases him and lead people to him.” That is why God had honored this girl and chosen her to become His Mother.

The Blessed Virgin Mary ran away from all fame and honor. Although she had lots of stories, news and words she had known about and of her dear Son our Lord Jesus Christ that any human being yearns to listen to, yet she chose to keep all these things to herself pondering them in her heart. Had she uttered a word, all humanity would have surrounded her to record those things she knew about the Master Jesus Christ. However, she escaped all this glory and chose the life of silence and quietude.

The Blessed Virgin Mary ran away from all glory of praise choosing to live in the shadow of events. She exemplified this attitude in her visit to Elizabeth to serve her behind the scenes; and when it was Elizabeth’s due time the Blessed Virgin Mary hurried quickly back to her house before people would gather in the house of Elizabeth and Zachariah and get to see her and praise her for having served the aged woman for three months.

The Blessed Virgin Mary ran away from the respect and privilege of defending herself and proving her innocence. For when St. Joseph the righteous questioned her purity, she submitted herself and her modesty to God who vindicates the wronged. In addition, after the angel had revealed her secret to St. Joseph, she never chastised nor rebuked him for his distrust in her. In fact, she chose to experience being wronged like her Son, “although He was ill-treated, He opened not His mouth. He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb is silent before his shearers, so He opens not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7, LXX).

The Blessed Virgin Mary ran away from herself and her ego living a life of submission and selflessness letting others to choose for her how to conduct her life. Her parents chose for her to live in the temple and the temple priests chose her spouse and patron. She did not even think or dream of becoming the Mother of God; but when God chose her she immediately offered herself in complete obedience confirming “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Her life of total submission extended to include her lack of knowledge of the place of delivery, the baby’s name, the flight to Egypt, living in Nazareth or her future life companion with whom she was to spend the rest of her life after the crucifixion and death of her son. In spite of all the uncertainty and hazards of events in her life yet she lived a life free of complaint, full of joy, and simplicity of heart.

The Blessed Virgin Mary ran away from the glory of being the Mother of God and the honor entailed in this title. Consequently, she did not allow herself to be distinguished from the rest of the crowd; but more often than not she lived like the rest of the Jewish people and like them she asked and wanted to meet with the Christ as the evangelist recorded, “and a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, ‘look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You'” (Mark 3:32).

The Blessed Virgin Mary ran away from the glory of becoming the mother of the Messiah unlike the Old Testament women who sought marriage and motherhood in the hope of gaining the blessings of becoming the mother or grandmother of the Messiah. From her discourse with the angel we learn that she was satisfied with offering herself a bride to God feeling how undeserving she was to become His mother. That is why God has honored her humility and raised her above all the women of the world to become the Mother of the creator full of admiration, and tribute.

The Blessed Virgin Mary ran away from the honor of being a wife and a mother for she had pledged virginity at a time when pledging virginity was not common. So, while she sought neither, she became the Mother of God and the whole creation; for she is indeed the Mother of us all.

While so many women these days run after priesthood, the Blessed Virgin Mary never sought it but was greatly and submissively satiated with the deity order of assigning priesthood to men. Thus, although she was the Mother of God she never received any priesthood rank.

While so many women nowadays argue against the purification period for women (a practice that has its roots in the Old Testament), contending that such is against women’s respect and dignity; we find the all pure, undefiled Blessed Virgin Mary who had given birth to her dear Son purely and without sin; respecting and fulfilling the Law of Moses. Forty days after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ she goes into the temple and offers the sacrifice required by the Law.

Truly awesome and worthy of all honor is the Blessed Virgin Mary who had chosen to escape from all dignity and earthly glory thus counted worthy by God, the Almighty, to receive the heavenly glory and privilege. The Lord God looked from heaven and could not find her like; so He sent His Son to be incarnated of her. The Magnificat of the Blessed Virgin Mary confirms that she did not steal to herself any honor but the Lord did wonders with her making her honored and glorified from all nations and augmented and full of praise.

Many, many women received honor, respect and admiration but you O Mother of God exceeded them all; for you have become Mother to the Creator and the Word of the Father.

May the blessings of the Blessed Virgin Mary who is enrobed with all tribute and admiration be with us all Amen.

— His Grace Bishop Youssef
Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

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