THE EPISTLE OF S. PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE ROMANS. CHAPTER XIV.
1 Now him that is weak in faith, take unto you.
How beautifully is the Apostle's precept of condescension And bearing with the weakness of others illustrated by Mary ; who, strong in faith, never doubting of our Lord's Resurrection as ; she watched His agony and death, associated herself with those who were weak in faith, viz., with Mary Magdalene and the .other women, who by their coming to embalm his body, had evidently but little belief that He would rise again the third -day, as He had promised. " Now there stood by the Cross of .Jesus, His Mother, and His Mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas, .and Mary Magdalene." [John xix. 25.]
8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or whether we die, -we die unto the Lord. Therefore, whether we live, or whether we .die, we are the Lord's.
Who could say this in the same sense as Mary ? Her whole life was for God, lost in God. She was all for Jesus, from His first moment to His latest breath. What then was her death ? As in the beginning, so was it then: Ecce ancilla Domini. Dominus tecum. She was the Lord's.
17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but justice .and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
18 For he that in this serveth Christ, pleaseth God, and is approved of men.
" The kingdom of God is within you," said Jesus Christ. [Luke xvii. 21.] In Mary's heart that divine kingdom was manifested in its fulness : and so that Servant of Christ, the Handmaid of the Lord, found grace with God, and all generations shall call her Blessed. " Sola sine exemplo placuisti Domino." [See supra, ch. xii. 1.]
2 Let every one of you please his neighbour unto good to edification.
[See supra, xiv. 1.] Consider, too, Mary's visit to Elizabeth, and her compassionate conduct at the Marriage Feast of Cana.
12 And again Isaias saith : There shall be a root of Jesse; and he that shall rise up to rule the Gentiles, in him the Gentiles shall hope.
S. Paul quotes from Isaias xi. 10. The prophet had said just before (v. 1): "There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root." That Rod is the Blessed Virgin Mary, and that Flower our Lord Jesus Christ. Mary then must have been present to the mind of the Apostle, in quoting this prophecy.
S. Jerome, quoting the above passage from Isaias, says "The Mother of the Lord is the Rod, simple, pure, sincere,' without any germ extrinsically cleaving to it, and, after the likeness of God, of itself alone fruitful. The Flower of the rod is Christ, who says : ' I am the flower of the field, and the lily of the valleys.'[Ep. xxiL 19.] And S. Ambrose: "Mary was the Rod, graceful, delicate, and virgin, that blossomed forth Christ, as a flower, through the perfect purity of her body." [later opera, Serm. 28.] S. Cyril of Jerusalem shows that Mary was both the Rod of Aaron and of Jesse ; [Catec. xii. 27.] as do also many other Fathers.
13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing ; that you may abound in hope and in the Power of the Holy Ghost.
14 And I myself also, my brethren, am assured of you that you also are full of love, replenished with all knowledge, so that you are able to admonish one another.
According to Mary's joy and peace in believing, wherewith her soul was filled ("Blessed art thou that hast believed ; " "My spirit hath exulted in God,") so was the abundance of her hope and power of the Holy Ghost. We also ourselves are assured of her, that she too is fall of love, love to her God and maternal love to us ; replenished also with all knowledge, from the lips of Jesus Christ Himself, whose intercourse she alone enjoyed for well nigh thirty years, so that she was able, as no other could, to instruct, console and admonish the Apostles and first disciples—of whom our Lord had made her Mother— after His Ascension into heaven; even as the tradition of the Holy Church teaches us.
15 But I have written to you, brethren, more boldly in some sort, as it were putting you in mind; because of the grace which is given me from God.
16 That I should be the minister of Christ Jesus among the Gentiles; sanctifying the gospel of God, that the oblation of the Gen tiles may be made acceptable and sanctified in the Holy Ghost.
17 I have therefore glory in Christ Jesus towards God.
If S. Paul, because of the commission laid upon him, and according to the grace given him from God as Minister of Christ Jesus, could offer up to God the oblation of the Gentiles, acceptable and sanctified in the Holy Ghost, and could therefrom have glory in Christ Jesus towards God— what glory must Mary have with God, to whom was given to be the Mother of Jesus Christ, and a fulness of grace proportioned to that dignity, that worthily she might fulfil its duties. To whom, too, was given to be the Mother of all His disciples, and corresponding grace. How efficaciously must she present her children, their prayers and good works, through her powerful intercession, before the throne of God, as the Mother of His Divine Son ! And shall we not glorify and honour her, whom God has delighted so to honour ?
29 And I know, that when I come to you, I shall come in the abundance of the blessing of the gospel of Christ
30 I beseech you therefore, brethren, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the charity of the Holy Ghost, that you help me in your prayers for me to God,
31 That I may be delivered from the unbelievers that are in. Judea, and that the oblation of my service may be acceptable in Jerusalem to the saints.
32 That I may come to you with joy, by the will of God, and may be refreshed with you.
33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
If S. Paul knew that by his coming he should be the means of imparting abundance of grace and blessing to the Romans, how much more may we be assured that the Mother of God, full of grace herself, is the great channel of grace to all. If such is an Apostle's visit, no wonder, then, that Elizabeth cried of the Mother of God's visit: " Whence is this to me, that the Mother of, my Lord should come to me ? " And if S. Paul besought the Romans by all that was most sacred to pray for him, how much more should we beseech Mary to pray for us, through Jesus Christ her Son, by the grace and charity which she has received, that we may be delivered from our enemies, and that God may accept the service which we offer to Him. S. Paul asks prayers; he recognises the power and importance of the intercession of God's servants, and he invokes them. He does this though he has just been instructing, and even rebuking them, and though he has just said that he will himself be to them a channel of grace, and even of abundance of grace. He thinks that the prayers of the Romans added to his own will ensure his deliverance from danger, and make his good works more fruitful. We ask the Saints to pray for us that we may be acceptable to God : Orate pro nobis, ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi. S. Paul asks the Saints to pray to God that he may be acceptable not only to God, but to God's Saints. How much greater reasons have we to ask the prayers of our Lady, for deliverance from bodily and spiritual dangers, for zeal in good works, and for their successful issue. And how much more forcible are the motives urged by S. Paul on the Romans, if addressed to our Lady, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by the charity of the Holy Ghost.
What would S. Paul have thought of the modern objection, that it is derogatory to the Mediatorship of Jesus Christ to ask Mary's prayers ? He considers that our Lord is not only Mediator between him and God, but between him and God's Saints. By our union in Him, by His love, by His claims, he calls on the Romans, Help me, pray for me. Surely all this action and reaction of God on His Saints, of the Saints on God, of the Saints on each other, of the Saints on sinners, and of sinners on Saints, is part of what S. Paul calls, the abundance of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ : the Communion of Saints in the Church of God.