THE EPISTLE OF S. PAUL TO THE PHILIPPIANS. CHAPTER II.
1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of charity, if any society of the spirit, if any bowels of commiseration.
S. Paul is touching the hearts of his disciples by recalling the consolations of the faith. Catholic experience will tell how much these are bound up with devotion to Mary, and all that relates to her.
5 For let this mind be iu you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man.
8 He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.
9 For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name that is above every name:
10 That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and in hell;
11 And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.
The Incarnation was the school of humility, who then profited in it like Mary who kept that school, so to say ? But the Incarnation itself, that is, the taking the form of a servant by Him who was in the form of God, only took place, when she who was saluted as Mother of God. took the title of handmaid. None ever had this mind which was in Christ Jesus as Mary. No one, as she, was made to be so like to Him in His humility and in His glory. We might say that Mary, though the true Mother of God, also emptied herself, taking the title and form of a servant, appearing as though she were but one amongst other ordinary women, humbling herself, and humbled by her Son: [Luke i. 31, 32, 35, 43 ; 38, 48, 56; ii. 22 ; 49 ; xii. 46-50 ; John ii. 4.] associating herself with all the humiliations and shame of Jesus Christ her Son, unto His death, even His death of the ignominious Cross. So, indeed, was she humbled: but as much in turn exalted by God and by His Church Luke i. 48. Apoc. xii. 1.] and her name, next to that of her Divine Son, is held in honour above every other Name, revered in the mouth of men and Angels. [Luke i. 30.] And after the Lord Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, is confessed by all to be in the glory of God the Father.
"Jesus Christ," says S. Antoninus, "began this humiliation in the womb of His Mother, since in the first instant of His formation, He was found less than all infants. Let man, says S. Augustine, blush to become proud, when his Lord has become humiliated.—A like Mother, too, did He choose in the Blessed Virgin, whom He knew to be of all creatures the most humble, and whose humility drew Him down from heaven." [P. iv. T. 15, C. 21.]
" Because Mary humbly acknowledged herself to be what she was, a servant, therefore she merited to be raised to what she was not. For she debased herself after the example of her Son, taking the form of a servant, for which cause God exalted her also, and hath given her a name that is above every name after that of her Son, that in her name every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, that at her name the demons should tremble." [Dan. Agric.]
" The same Spirit granted to thee, O Mary," says S. Ildephonsus, " that in thy name, every knee should bow of those in heaven, on earth, in hell, and that every tongue should confess that thou art the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, seated in the glory of God the Father at the right hand of thy most loving Spouse and only Son, crowned conspicuously with an unfading crown of seven stars of brilliant splendour, accompanied by bands of virgins, exalted marvellously above all other Saints, amidst the hymns of alternate choirs of angels, in the everlasting verdure of paradise."
29 Receive him therefore with all joy in the Lord; and treat with honour such as he is.
30 Because for the work of Christ he came to the point of death ; delivering his life, that he might fulfil that which on your part was wanting towards my service.
Epaphroditus suffered and risked his life for an Apostle of Christ; Mary's heart was pierced for Christ, and for us. How much more is she worthy of honour.
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death,
11 If by any means I may attain to the resurrection which is from the dead.
Who as Mary had so great fellowship in the sufferings of Jesus Christ, and was made so conformable to His death ?
Who, then, as she knew the power of His resurrection ? The Blessed Virgin, according to the Gospel narrative, and the united voice of Tradition, had fellowship of these mysteries in a way more real and perfect than the Apostle here even desired for himself.
17 Be followers of me, brethren, and observe them who walk so as you have our model.
Why should we not study Mary, and the virgins who walked according to her model? How great the honour to be allowed to have the name of children, servants, followers of Mary.
20 But our conversation is in heaven ; from whence also we look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ,
21 Who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of his glory, according to the operation whereby also he is able to subdue all things unto himself.
This was Mary's life after the Resurrection of her Son. At length He came Himself to receive her blessed soul, and re formed the body of her lowness, which was made like to the body of His glory, in her Assumption to heaven.