[Homily: Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. Assumption Chapel. 7 October 2019]
October is the month of the Holy Rosary. And today is the feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. I am happy that in this university through various activities, from rosaries being prayed in our offices to living rosaries being celebrated in our various units, we are encouraged to renew ourselves in this powerful devotion. There was a time when every Atenean was trained to carry a rosary in his or her pocket or purse. Every Atenean was formed to pray the Rosary daily, and to grow in devotion to our Blessed Mother, who brings us to intimacy with her Son.
That devotion we may wish to renew today as we decide as a community to work towards the implementation of our new Vision and Mission and strategic plan. With every Hail Mary, the Annunciation is recalled. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.” The greeting to Mary recalls the whole conversation between the Angel Gabriel and Mary which ended in her, Fiat, her “Yes, let it be done unto me according to your word.” With every Pray for us sinners, our admission that what is done in our lives is often not according to God’s will, and so our plea to Mary to pray for us, now and at the hour of our death.
But recalling the Annunciation, recalls – as St. Ignatius contemplates it – the entire mystery of the Incarnation, the momentous mystery where what is recalled is not only Mary’s yes to the Angel, but God’s yes to humanity, the Father’s refusal to say no by damning humanity that had estranged itself from him. This began his cosmic labor of reconciling humanity with himself, of reconciling human beings with one another, and of reconciling humanity with creation, through the Incarnation of his Word, his Word of compassion and love, his yes. Through every Hail Mary, we are invited to participate in the Father’s work of reconciliation by joining our yes to our Blessed Mother saying yes to the yes of the Father.
In praying regularly the joyful, luminous, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries we recall gratefully key mysteries of the Father’s reconciling activity in salvation history through the Son in the Spirit: the Joyful Mysteries: the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Birth of our Lord, the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple, the Finding of our Lord in the Temple; the Luminous Mysteries: the baptism of our Lord, the Marriage Feast of Cana, the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, the Transfiguration, the Last Supper; the Sorrowful Mysteries: the Agony of Our Lord in the Garden, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross, the Crucifixion and Death of our Lord; the Glorious Mysteries, the Resurrection, the Ascension of our Lord into Heaven, the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, the Crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth.
In praying the rosary regularly, we each enter into the intimate dialogue that the Father initiates with us through the Incarnation of His Son and his suffering, death, and resurrection working out our reconciliation. With each mystery of the Rosary, the Father speaks a special word of love to us, a special word of understanding, a special word of challenge; with each mystery of the Rosary we are invited in dialogue to respond to the Father speaking to us in our lives, intervening to make things right in our lives, to put things in order, to raise us to a more profound union him or others through his reconciling activity. With each mystery, we are confronted with the profound but chilling mystery: We can say yes. Be it done to me according to your word. Thy will be done. Or we can say no. Be it done to me according to my word. Be it done to me as I will. My will be done.
An example can be the Gospel passage that is proclaimed in today’s Gospel. The disciples ask, as we often do, what must be done to attain eternal life. We can recall this Gospel when we come to the third of the luminous mysteries, Jesus proclaiming the Kingdom of God. In the Kingdom of God, the reign of God is accepted. Any distance we may have from God because of our pride, our activism, our conceit, our bloated self-image, our selfishness is overcome. And if it is not, the Father in dialogue with us may be inviting us to recall his goodness and providence, and in his Spirit to see through our self-posturing and self-deceit. In this mystery, the Father may also be inviting us to recall who our neighbor is, and how easy it is in self-righteousness or personal smugness to fail to recognize and respond to the neighbor – who may be a Samaritan on the road, but also a fellow worker who is hurting, a friend who is in crisis, a stranger who is wounded and hungry. In this dialogue, we are invited to respond.
So I invite you to pray the rosary to help all of us participate more deeply in the Father’s work of reconciliation. In every mystery of the Rosary the Father is talking to us, and, as in every dialogue, we are being invited to respond to him. At the beginning of every decade, we pray, “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done. On earth… here and now. At the end of every decade, we pray, “Glory be to this Father who reconciles us to himself in his Son through the Spirit.” We even say, in the spirit of St. Ignatius, ad majorem Dei Gloriam! Unto the greater glory of this God who loves us so much, he sends us his Son to seek us out and bring us back to him, to help us recognize the gift we have in each other, and to form us into a community of faith, hope, and love in our shared common home.