Saint Mary the Virgin

The heaven of heavens is the Lord’s
but he entrusted the earth to its peoples. (Psalm 115:16)

The readings and canticles for this morning, the Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin, give us glimpses into the lives of several people who were trusting and became trustworthy.

In the Old Testament reading, Hannah, formerly childless, sings to God after giving her son Samuel to serve in the Temple. She sings of God’s power: “He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap” (1 Sam. 2:8). She trusts that “he will guard the feet of his faithful ones,” and she entrusts her son to his service.

We respond with Canticle 16, appointed for Major Feasts like today, which is a song about another son. Zecharaiah sings to God in joy that he has witnessed a miracle — the birth of a son to his wife Elizabeth — and that his son, John the Baptist, will have a special part to play in announcing the coming of the Messiah. Zechariah trusts in God’s promise “to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

The Gospel reading recounts Jesus’ first sign, or demonstration of his power, at a wedding in Cana. His mother Mary nudges him into action, forcing his hand when he is reluctant to intervene. “There’s no wine,” she says. “So what?” he says. “Do what he tells you,” she says to the servants. Put on the spot, Jesus performs his first miracle. Mary trusts that the time is right for her son to step onto a larger stage, even though he was just coming to a wedding with his friends.

In Canticle 21, the Te Deum, we get another glimpse of the larger stage on which God is acting.

You, Christ, are the king of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.
When you became man to set us free,
you did not shun the Virgin’s womb.

God’s purposes will be fulfilled with and through the “peoples of the earth,” people like Hannah and Zechariah, like Mary and like us, people who trust in his direction and become trustworthy by participating in his work.

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