I. Introduction: Queen of Mercy
A. Tomorrow we shall celebrate the Feast of Christ the King…Jesus our merciful King. We shall celebrate how, through the Blood of the Cross, mercy triumphed over sin and life triumphed over death. And we shall pay our homage to the Lord and King of heaven and earth.
B. In anticipation of that great and joyful feast, we celebrate this morning a Votive Mass in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen of Mercy and as Mother of Mercy. By focusing on these two interconnected ways of addressing Our Blessed Lady, we shall try to understand more deeply how she helps us to gain access God’s mercy even as we seek to deepen our devotion to Mary who loves us so tenderly.
II. Queen and Mother of Mercy
A. Let us first reflect on what it means to call Mary “Queen of Mercy”, beginning with the beautiful truth that she is the masterpiece of God’s mercy. By a singular act of mercy, God the Father kept Mary free from the stain of original sin and indeed preserved her from all other sin. In this way, he granted Mary a sovereign freedom over sin and a regal dignity of grace. From the first moment of her existence, God’s mercy reigned in Mary’s heart. Hers was a heart full of grace: prayerful, pure, and loving, prepared to be the Mother of our merciful Savior, our Shepherd, the King of love. And so, at the Annunciation, the Queen of Mercy became the Mother of Mercy. In her, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Through her, Jesus, the incarnation of God’s mercy, entered the world. She who is the Queen of Mercy is indeed the Mother of Mercy.
B. Upon receiving angel’s message that she was to be the Mother of God, Mary hastened to the house of her cousin Elizabeth. As you recall, Elizabeth had conceived a child in her advancing years, and the child of her womb was to be St. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus. There at Elizabeth’s doorstep, Mary proclaimed the greatness of the Lord. There she sang of divine mercies that endure from age to age – that mercy which lifts the poor and lowly, exalts the meek and the humble, extols those who seek for holiness and hallows those who are merciful.
C. In this way, Mary proclaimed ahead of time the Kingdom of the Beatitudes which her Son Jesus came to establish upon the earth, Already Mary embodied that Kingdom in her womb, and thus the child in Elizabeth’s womb leapt for joy. Mary would live the Beatitudes perfectly all her days as the Lord’s foremost disciple. Perfectly attuned to God’s plan, she shared fully in her Son’s Sacrifice on the Cross by which he was given “the Name above every other name”. As she stood beneath the Cross, Jesus gave Mary to us as our Mother. Assumed into heaven, she reigns as a loving Queen who intercedes for us. She ardently desires that we open our hearts to the merciful heart of Jesus, so that we also might attain a sovereign freedom over sin, a true mastery of self, and royal generosity toward those who are in need. This is how we become “God’s handiwork”, masterpieces of mercy.
III. To Sum Up, Then . . . .
A. How, then, does Mary as Queen and Mother of Mercy help us to access more surely and more abundantly the mercies of her Son amid the turbulence and confusion of daily life? Let me conclude by briefly summing up three ways she does so:
B. First, Mary proclaims and extols the God’s mercy and she invites us to do the same. Two times in her canticle, the Magnifcat, she praises the Lord’s mercy; she says: “He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation” and goes on to say, that [God] has remembered “his promise of mercy” to Israel. In the closing hours of this Jubilee Year of Mercy, let us hasten to join with Mary in thanking the Lord from the bottom of our hearts for his compassion toward us. Truly the Lord is kind and merciful.
C. Second, Mary who experienced God’s mercy more fully than anyone else invites us to open our hearts to his tender mercies. Pope St. John Paul II taught that “Mary … obtained mercy in a particular and exceptional way” – yet it was through the unique privileges which God granted to Mary that we experience divine mercy in our lives. In her freedom from sin and in her fullness of grace, we were given the blessed fruit of her womb, our Savior Jesus. In him we find true freedom from sin and a wealth of mercy.
D. Third, as a loving Mother, Mary prays for us and as a gracious Queen, she reaches out to us. Just as she reached out to Elizabeth in her hour of need, so too, Mary “stretches out her arms to all those who call upon her help in their distress” (Preface). When we are burdened by our sins and overwhelmed with problems, let us remember the words of the Crucified Lord to the beloved disciple: “Behold your Mother!” Let us never hesitate to turn to Mary our Mother, not only in the hour of our death but also in the hour of our need— our need for that mercy which alone makes sense of our lives.
E. Let us also entrust our beloved Order and each of our jurisdictions to Mary, the Queen and Mother of Mercy. We know and believe that her prayers will greatly strengthen our efforts to live our principles more fully…charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism, to advance the cause of life, to strengthen the family as domestic church, to increase membership in our Order by inviting younger men and their families, and to advance the Church’s mission of spreading the Gospel by renewing the faith of those whose hearts have grown cold. Through her intercession, may we be agents of mercy in our Church and in our world. And so we say: Mary, Queen and Mother of Mercy, pray for us! Vivat Jesus!