Homily for the Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary
September 12, 2018
Sacred Heart School
High School Mass
Our salvation begins when the archangel speaks the name of Mary. Gabriel, in the glory of his grandeur, appears to a poor virgin. He calls upon her Name in a prayer familiar to us:
Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with You.”
Actually, if you listen closely, you will notice that he dares not speak her name. He says, “Hail, full of grace!”, not “Hail, Mary, full of grace.”
In the Old Testament, Jews did not speak the Name of God…Yahweh. They did not speak it because it was Holy. They gave it great reverence. God did not reveal his name to Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob. The first time he revealed his name, he revealed it to Moses, and only after he had taken off His sandals because of the reverence due to the Name…
Contrast that with us today: How often we hear people cursing carelessly with the Name of God…
The Name of God is Holy.
The Name of Jesus is Holy…St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians tells us that it is:
The Name above every other Name,
That at the Name of Jesus,
Every knee should bend,
In the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth,
And every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father:
JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!
Mary, too: Her name is holy.
It is a Name of Honor.
It is a Holy Name.
It is a Motherly Name.
It is a Name Responsive to our Needs.
It is a Name of Honor. It is invoked twice in the Hail Mary. It echoes and re-echoes in the prayers of the Church: “O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary…” Catholic tradition has us give a slight bow of the head at when the name of Jesus or Mary is spoken – a sign of reverence and honor for a Name of Honor…
It is a Holy Name. The angel did not dare to speak it. The Name of Mary marks the woman who was Full of Grace, without sin from the moment of her conception, and who found favor with God. It is the name of the woman who conceived and bore the Holy Son of God.
It is a Motherly Name. The Mother of Jesus is our Mother. The Church is the Body of Christ – you are a member of that Body. You are a member of Christ’s Body, and so His Mother is your Mother. At the foot of the cross, the Lord looked down and saw his mother and the beloved disciple standing there. He looked at his mother and, looking toward the beloved disciple, he said to her: “Behold your son.” Then looking at the beloved disciple, he said to him: “Behold your mother.” The beloved disciple represents each of us. Jesus gives us his mother to be our mother. Mary is a Motherly Name…a name spoken with tenderness on the lips of her children…
It is a Name Responsive to our Needs. Mary’s response is one word: Fiat! Yes! She gave her fiat to the angel Gabriel when he asked her to bear God’s son into the world. She gave her fiat to the couple at the wedding feast when they had run out of wine, telling the servants to “do whatever He tells you…” And she will give her fiat to you if you turn to her and call upon her name in your need. It is a name responsive to the need for the faithful on whose lips echo and re-echo the name of Mary, who turn to her in confidence, calling on her as our Mother in times of danger and distress.
Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary,
That never was it known
That anyone who fled to thy protection,
Sought thy help,
Or implored thy intercession
Was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence,
I fly to thee, O Virgin of Virgins, My Mother.
To thee do I come, before thee I stand,
Sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
Despise not my petitions,
But in thy mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.
Our salvation began when the archangel spoke the Name of Mary.
So, too, does our salvation begin when we speak the name of Mary. For when we speak her name:
Her Name of Honor
Her Holy Name
Her Motherly Name
Her Name so Responsive to our Needs…
When we speak the Name of Mary, the Word of God who was conceived in her womb takes root in our souls, and brings forth Jesus.
With all faith and devotion today, let us call upon her Name with Honor so that Jesus Christ might be born in us:
Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art though among women,
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death.