Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Sunday Within the Octave of the Ascension—28 May AD 2017

Ave Maria!

Our Lady Queen of the Apostles

Ordinary of the Mass
Sunday Mass Text - Latin
Sunday Mass Text - English

Mass - Queen of Apostles

    The Ascension of our Lord is one of those few feasts that are celebrated with an octave.  In a sense, it takes ten days to observe this octave, because we know from the Acts of the Apostles that from Ascension Thursday until Pentecost Sunday the apostles remained in prayer in the upper room.   Those days might well have been ten very terrifying days.  During them, they had plenty of time for reflection:  they had spent right about three years with our Lord, traveling throughout the countryside and the cities of Israel and Judea.  Our Lord always seemed to be on top of the situation, no matter whom they had to confront—He always knew the right thing to say to make people see the truth.  On Palm Sunday the people seemed to be at the point of making Him their King.

    But then there was a terrible change—the crowd could not have been more fickle—that Friday, a few days later, they were screaming for His crucifixion.  Most of the apostles had already fled in terror.  But even the terror of the crucifixion was short lived;  within forty-eight hours or so, they had learned of His resurrection, and most of the apostles had seen Him alive.

    The forty days following the resurrection must have seemed glorious.  Jesus was back with them once again.  He would know handle each and every encounter    no one would bother them    not the Sanhedrin, not the crowds of the Jews, not even the Romans.  Very likely, they were able to put any thought of the crucifixion aside, and speculate about the “good times to come.”

    But, then, on the fortieth day, our Lord was gone again.  This time permanently.  Even before the crucifixion, He had told them that He was returning to the Father.   He spoke of sending them a “new Advocate,” but unless He told them more than what we know from the Scriptures, they could not have understood very well what this “Advocate” was all about.[1]  Perhaps worst of all, our Lord had promised them trouble!  “They will expel you from the synagogues.... anyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.”  “No servant is greater than his Master.  If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before you.”[2]

    The apostles were practical man; realists.  They lived in a world where people suffered and died from simple diseases they could not cure;  they lived in a society that had few resources to recover from natural disasters.  They knew that greed and jealousy and lust sometimes drove men to do unspeakable things.  But, why would anybody want to bother them for keeping the Commandments, or for imitating the peaceful ways of Jesus of Nazareth?  It was not as though our Lord had directed them to arm themselves with swords and go out to round up sinners—they posed no threat to anyone.

    But our Lord knew human nature.  He knew that the true sinner (the one who knows what is wrong, and repeatedly does it anyway) is always looking for approval of his sins.  The true sinner is trying to convince himself that he is really doing nothing wrong    and what better way to convince yourself of something than to have everyone agree with you, and tell you what you want to hear?

    John the Baptist, for example, was no real threat to King Herod.  But he was the only one with courage enough to remind Herod publicly that he was sinning by taking his brother's wife.  John's “crime,” in Herod's mind, was that he destroyed a pleasant fiction;  that he forced Herod to examine his conscience both publicly and privately, and that Herod had to admit to himself that John was right, and that he was, indeed, a sinner.  Worldly people hate holy men because their mere presence is a rebuke, a reminder that they are living a lie, and that some day they will be called to account for their fiction.

    Then too, there is the element of jealousy.  It is hard to admit that someone else has more strength of character, greater discipline, a stronger will with which to resist temptation.  It is harder still to admit that someone else will have a reward that I have foolishly cast away.  And hardest of all to admit these things when the good person comes from a lower status in life than the bad one.  That's why the devil wants you to lose your soul —he has nothing to gain by it—but he can’t bear to admit that lower creatures such as we, might have what he has thrown away.

    The apostles knew that they would be subject to persecution.  So those ten days might have been terrible without Jesus, and before this new “Advocate” came to them.  But if we read just a little more of the Acts of the Apostles than we did on Ascension Thursday, we that they had a source of consolation and stability:

    And when they had entered the city, they came to the upper room where were staying....  All these with one mind continued steadfastly in prayer with the women and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and with His brethren.[3]

    “Mary, the Mother of Jesus” has been the Mother of us all, ever since we were entrusted to her care in the person of Saint John the Apostle.[4]   She is our “stability and consolation.”  She has been, over the centuries, and will be, until the end of time.  Yesterday we celebrated her feast as “Queen of the Apostles,” their consolation in the upper room.  Wednesday, May 24th, was her feast as “Help of Christians,” and we are reminded how she protected Constantinople from the Moslems in AD 911, how she brought solace to all of Europe in the 16th century by defeating the Moslems at Lepanto, and by liberating Pope Pius VII from the grasp of Napoleon in the 19th.  Also in May, she is celebrated as “Queen,” “Mediatrix of all Graces,” and “Queen of all Saints.”

    Sometime our Lady is able to deliver us from illness, or to avert natural disaster.  Sometime she delivers us from the crimes of those who act through greed and lust.  And, sometimes she delivers us from the jealousy of sinners.  But sometimes, God tells her that her intervention would not be in our best interest;  that we must sometimes share her Son's sufferings.  But even then, she is with us in our time of tribulation, for Mary is always our Queen, our, consolation, and our solace; for Mary is always our Mother.


[1]   Gospel: John xv: 26-27., to xvi: 1-4

[2]   Ibid.



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