Written by Fr. John Michael Paul, CSJ
Let us reflect on the scriptures to see how deeper reflection can unveil to us an aspect of the Mystery of Mary’s motherhood. For this reflection we will look at Numbers 6:22-27 and Psalm 67.
The LORD said to Moses:
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:
This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites,
and I will bless them.”
Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
May God bless us in his mercy.
May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.
May the nations be glad and exult
because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide.
May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!
It is through Mary that God chooses to bless our poor humanity with his very presence in the person of his Son. The reading from Numbers says, ‘The Lord let his face sine upon you.’ Isn’t it true that through Mary, God let’s his light shine upon us, he allows his eternal divinity to enter into time, into our history, and to become one of us, and to make us one with Him? What more amazing light could we ask that to enter into the light of God’s own glory. And Mary is the one chosen for this transformation of our race into a chosen royal priesthood.
It says further, ‘may God be gracious to you.’ Graciousness means to act with gratuity and grace. God chose to make Mary full of grace from her Immaculate Conception. Through her intercession, God blesses all of us and brings us into his favor, into his grace.
‘Make the Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace.’ Isn’t it true that often a mother knows best how to work peace among her children. As mother of all mankind, it is to her that we need pray for our world, so much in need today of a lasting and constructive peace that comes from above.
One aspect that is interesting in this scripture is where it says, ‘You will invoke my name upon the Isaelites.’ This would, in fact, never be done, since the name of God was considered so sacred that it was never pronounced. It was a way of speaking to affirm belief in God’s presence. Since the name indicated the presence, this invocation was rather to rekindle hearts to live in the presence of God’s light who always accompanies his people throughout their history. Mary, too accompanies us throughout our earthly pilgrimage to our Heavenly Father.
Now let us look at what is means to bless. It comes up six times in the psalm and its refrain. The word bless comes from the Latin word benedicere, to say good about someone. Asking the Lord to bless us, is to affirm God’s transformative action in us, and it also affirms our availability for his Word to act in our hearts. It is upon Mary that God’s name was most eminently pronounced and she was transformed by grace unto grace throughout her life from her immaculate conception unto her assumption, as the model of Christian growth in charity as we walk the path of faith and hope.
Yes, if we live by faith and hope, it is for the purpose of growing in intensity in our charity, that is our love of God and neighbor. Yes, God blesses us, and that unpronounceable sacred name of God means just that, God who promises his permanent presence to his chosen people. And we are members of this chosen people through Mary.
The psalm ends with the words, ‘May God bless us in his mercy.’ This wording may sound as though there were a doubt. When someone says, may you have a good trip, you sort of wonder, do they think something will happen? May doesn’t so much indicate a doubt that God will bless us, for he always does bless us. However, God respects our freedom. We can refuse his blessings. This prayer from the psalm insists that blessings require the fact of being received.
May our hearts be open to receive the blessings that the Lord wants to shower upon us. For this we turn to our Mother Mary, she who never ceased to open her heart to receive all that the Lord wanted to give her, most especially her divine Motherhood, and to give to the Lord all that he wanted to take, namely the earthly life of her only son, and all that with the prayer of ‘may it be done to me according to thy word.’