Getting to Know the Mother of Jesus
Opening Question: Have you ever let your imagination go? What did you see or hear? Did you get scared? Or were you happy? What happened?
First Reading: Revelation 11:19a, 12:1-6a, 10ab
God's temple in heaven was opened and the ark of God's covenant appeared in the Temple.
A great sign appeared in the sky. There was a woman who was clothed with the sun. The moon was at her feet. And she wore a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was ready to give birth. She cried out because of her intense birth pains.
Suddenly, there was another sign in the sky. There was a large red dragon with seven heads. Each head had ten horns and worn a crown with less power than the woman had. The dragon's tail swept one third of the stars from the sky and threw them on the earth. The dragon stood before the woman who would soon give birth, so he could eat the child right after the delivery.
The woman bore a son who would soon rule every country with an iron rod. The child was taken away to God and his throne. The woman escaped into the desert where God had prepared a place for her, so she could be fed for 1,260 days.
Then, I heard a loud voice from heaven: "Now, salvation, divine power, and God's Kingdom are here! They come with the authority of the Christ!"
It was summer vacation! Cari and James were knew it when they visited their grandmother's ranch. Every August they traveled into the mountains where the grassy hills met the pine trees. They left down a long drive road until they saw they sign, "Pine Ridge Ranch." That was the name of grandma's "spread."
Like every other year they made a visit, they did their chores. Then they could run free. Imagine! No boundaries and few rules. Cari and James could run as far as they wanted. And they did! This day they ran so far and so fast, they both fell down on the soft grass under the shade of a lonely pine tree. They were out of breathe, panting.
"That was fun!" Cari said between breathes.
"Yeah!" James agreed.
Cari rolled onto her back and looked at the large, fluffy clouds that drifted by against the bright blue sky. "Look at that, James," she said to her brother. "It looks like the dragon from your video game."
"Yeah," James said in amazement. "You're right. That's cool."
They watched the dragon for the longest time in silence. Then, several clouds came together right in front of the dragon.
"Hey, Cari, look at that cloud. What does that look like," James asked.
Cari squinted, as she looked at the cloud formation. "It's a pregnant lady," she responded.
James burst out laughing, but his laughter died away when he looked closely at cloud. "You're right," he said. "Let's see if the dragon will attack the lady."
But, just then, the dragon cloud began to break apart. After a few moments, only the pregnant lady cloud remained close by.
Instead of moving, both of the kids continued to enjoy the sight of the beautiful day and the clouds drifting by. But the cloud of the lady seemed to remain.
In this reading, the writer of the book of Revelation pointed to two figures in the sky, the Queen of Heaven and the evil dragon with seven heads. God protected the Queen and her child from the evil dragon. In time, the child would grow up and would defeat the evil dragon. He would save the world.
Who is the child? Who is the dragon? Who is the Queen of heaven? Today we honor the Queen because of what her Son did for us. He saved the world. Let's thank God for his Son and his Son's victory over evil.
Bridging Question: How many people are you glad to see each day? How do you greet them?
Gospel: Luke 1:39-56
After the angel Gabriel told Mary she would be the mother of the Messiah, Mary got up and went as quick as she could to a town in the hills of Judea. There, she entered Zechariah's house and said "Hello" to her cousin, Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby in her womb suddenly moved a lot. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. "God has blessed you more than any other woman!" Elizabeth shouted. "And God has blessed the son in your womb! You, the mother of my Lord, came to visit me. Why should this happen to me? Listen, Mary! When I heard your greeting, my baby suddenly moved a lot in my womb. He is full of joy! And you are happy because you believed that everything the Lord told you will really happen!"
Mary declared, "My heart shouts praise to the Lord! God has made me so happy! He looks upon me, his humble servant, with smiling eyes. From now on, people throughout time will honor me. He has done so many wonderful things for me. He is powerful and his name is truly holy!
Throughout time, God shows his mercy to those who respect him. With his power, he does great things. God scatters all who are full of themselves. He topples powerful rulers and he raises the humble up high. He fills the hungry with rich food. But he sends away the greedy with empty hands. God sends help to Israel, his dear people. This is how he remembers his mercy to them. This is the way he spoke to our ancestors, Abraham and his children. And he will speak this way to his people forever."
Mary stayed with her cousin Elizabeth for three months. Then, she returned home.
"I'll race you back," James challenged his sister.
Cari didn't even answer him. She jumped up and began to run back down the hill toward the main house on grandma's ranch. James didn't waste any time as he ran behind her. Soon he caught up with her. But she wasn't going to let her brother win the race. She put on a burst of speed. They were running even most of the way.
When they reached the house, they burst in, and shouted "Grandma, we're back!"
"I'm up here," they heard their grandma reply in the distance.
Even though they were out of breathe, they ran up the stairs to their grandma's room. They found her in her rocking chair. She stopped rocking and reached out to both of her grandchildren. She gave them a big hug.
"Grandma, we're glad to be here," Cari said.
"Yeah, we love it here," James added.
"That makes me real happy," their grandma replied. "I love having you here."
When the hug ended, their grandma sat back in her chair. That's when James noticed some black beads in her hand. "What are those beads?" he asked.
"They're your grandfather's rosary," she said. "Ever since your grandfather died, I've prayed with them. When I say my daily rosary, I feel close to him. I feel like Our Lady and your grandfather are in the room with me."
"Really?" Cari replied.
But James interrupted. He was fascinated by the beads. "How do you use the rosary to pray?" he asked.
Grandma explained how the rosary had a beginning and five parts, called decades. She went to explain how each decade had an Our Father, ten Hail Marys, and a Glory Be. Then she added, "Would you like to help me finish my rosary?"
"Sure!" both children replied.
Their grandma led them in the prayers. Before long, the rosary came to an end.
"I feel peaceful, Grandma," Cari said.
"I do, too," their grandma said, nodding in agreement. "That's why I say it every day at this time."
"Can we say the rosary with you tomorrow?" James asked.
"Of course," their grandma replied. "It's a nice way to say 'Hello" to Mary, the mother of Jesus."
As Catholics, we believe God took Mary into heaven just like Jesus rose and ascended into heaven. We believe she lives with God as Queen of Heaven.
Catholics say rosaries to honor Mary. A rosary is a way to think about the life of Jesus and to ask Mary to pray for us. And, like the children's grandma said, it's a nice way to say "Hello" to the mother of Jesus.
Closing Question: Have you ever said a rosary? Who said it with you? Do you know how to say a rosary? If you don't, who can help you? Plan to ask someone to say a rosary with you.