Benedictine University and’s Mark Kurowski reflects on the Blessed Virgin Mary and why she is important to salvation.  It is more than just her virginity.  Listen to this podcast of his reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Please read Luke 1:26-38.


{mp3}2011 12 18 B 04 04 Advent{/mp3}

For Benedictine University and, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 12/18/2011The 4th Sunday of Advent.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 1:26-38.
Have you ever considered the significance of our confession every Sunday in the Nicene Creed, “by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man”?
The devotion to Mary is growing, especially with the Totus Tuus movement and it has once again raised alarm amongst people who did not grow up with a devotion to Mary.  The reason for the alarm is that those who are concerned are afraid that any devotion to Mary runs the risk of overtaking the importance of Jesus Christ.  I am going to make the case today that Mary and her Virginity are important to our salvation, not because she in and of herself is important, but because Christ is important.  Mary’s condition has everything to do with what happened on the Cross, not just in the Manger.  Let me explain.
I want you to think of your father’s name.  Every one of us almost, can tell each other what our father’s name is.  My father bore the name Edward Francis Kurowski, Sr..  Now, there could be some question if there were shady circumstances.  But we could figure that out today with genetic testing.  In Jesus’ day, it was important to know your father’s name.  With your father’s name comes all of your inheritance rights, all of your social standing and your identity.
Knowing our name gives us a sense of identity.  It says who we are.  My father was brilliant when it came to mechanical things.  He probably could fix anything.  He was able to conceive of something in his mind from an engineering standpoint and make it with little effort of thought.  In some ways, my tool box tells me that I am my father’s son.
I think that today, in our society, we are suffering culturally from a lack of fatherhood.  We have boys who don’t know how to become men, even more, Christian men, because they do not know who their fathers are and what their fathers’ make up is.  When a person has no identity, they are left with nothing but selfishness and self-focus in determining who they are.
The Immaculate Conception, that Mary was a Virgin when Jesus was conceived in her womb, has everything to do with who the child Jesus is.  If Jesus were to be conceived through Joseph, then people would be able to claim that Jesus was not really the actual Son of God.  They could say that he was a human being who was adopted by God because he was so good.
You may say, “So what?” But if you think about it, it is very important that Jesus wasn’t just a good human being who found favor with God and was adopted.  This would mean that salvation would come through good works as we did just what Jesus did without his help.  It would mean that salvation doesn’t come through the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross.  If Jesus’ father was a man, then he died on the Cross as just a man, offering one sacrifice for one time, for one sin.  There would be nothing eternal in his makeup that would make the sacrifice he made on the Cross for an eternity.
On the other hand, if Mary was a virgin, then there could be no doubt that the child who would come from her womb would be God’s child.  There is no other way, other than the usual, that a woman could be with child in that day.  So, the virginity of Mary ensures that this child is God’s child.  If that child was God’s child, then the child would be the bridge that divides divinity and humanity.  He would be an eternal being in human form; he would be the God-man!
What is it that makes the sacrifice on the Cross available to you and me?  It is that Jesus, who is the culmination of the Divinity of God and the humanity of Mary, would be a human giving up his life for humanity in an eternal way through his divinity.  His divinity combined with his humanity is what makes his sacrifice a one-time sacrifice for all people for all time.
The Liturgy of the Hours says it like this,
O marvelous exchange! Man’s Creator has become man, born of the Virgin.  We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.
Of course, if the eternal sacrifice were to really be an eternal sacrifice, then the one being sacrificed would need to be without sin.  Who here is ready to claim that Jesus sinned?  We shudder at the thought.  When we vow, we make our promise by the name of the Lord God Almighty, for no man’s name is worthy enough to sustain a vow.  If this weren’t so, then we wouldn’t bother with weddings in the church.  A wedding doesn’t have to be done in the church.  It can be done less expensively and with less time by a justice of the peace.  Underneath all the glamour of a church wedding, what people want is the promise of their partner before God.
We know that people sin, but we deep down believe that if the person with whom we take our vows makes them before their Creator, it carries more weight because God is without sin.  This, again, is the motive behind the Holy Spirit’s conception within the Virgin called Mary.
She was not “defiled” by any man outside of marriage.  She was not tainted, as St. Augustine believes, with Original Sin, passed on in the passion of the act of conception.  With the conception by the Holy Spirit, the whole thing would be pure and the child from the womb would be pure.  If the child was pure, then the sacrifice on the Cross would be pure and without blemish.  If the sacrifice of an eternal God-man were to be offered for all people for all time, then you and I benefit because our sins were nailed to the Cross with the child from the pure womb.
The Virginity of Mary has everything to do with the salvation wrought on the Cross.  It has little to do with Mary, but everything to do with Christ.  No other child can claim that they are the Son of God.  No other child can be the bridge between God and humanity.  They cannot do these things because no other child can be identified as the one child whose mother was a pious young Jewish girl and whose father was the God of the Universe.
Now, what does this mean for our faith?  It means that we can have confidence that the sacrifice made by Jesus covered our sins.  The sacrifice was pure enough and eternal enough to cover our sins.  The Virginity of Mary meant that your sins and mine are forgiven.  So, when we say, “he was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary,” we are saying that Jesus became human so that at the second coming we would become divine. Or, more plainly, the Virgin Birth ensures our salvation is possible through Jesus the Christ, in whose name we pray, in whose life, death and resurrection we put our trust for eternity.  It is a sure foundation.
When we say the words of the Creed on Sundays, let our hearts leap for joy, for the Virgin’s acceptance of the Lord’s plan means that we will be with Christ in glory at the end of time.  Praise be to God! Amen? Amen.
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