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Queen Mother: Royal Allusions in Matthew’s Birth Narrative

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In Queen Mother: A Biblical Theology of Mary’s Queenship—currently 50% off on Verbum.com—Edward Sri unfolds common approaches taken to Mary’s role as queen and demonstrates how the “queen mother” theme in the Davidic kingdom sheds light on her presentation as heavenly queen in the New Testament and in the Church.

In this excerpt from chapter three, Sri describes several approaches to interpreting Mary’s role in Matthew 1–2.

One approach to interpreting Mary in Matthew 1–2 in light of the queen-mother figure underscores how Matthew associates Mary and Jesus with the queen-mother-and-royal-son prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. In 1:23, Matthew portrays Mary as the parthenos whom Isaiah prophesied would give birth to the Immanuel child in Isaiah 7:14 (LXX). Thus, “according to the fulfillment of the prophecy, Mary became queen-mother of the Messiah.” In the Isaian oracle, the queen mother of Immanuel brings forth a child who would ensure the perseverance of the Davidic dynasty. Here in Matthew 1, Mary does the same, bringing forth the Davidic heir who would secure the true Davidic kingdom forever. As Serra explains,

Just as she [the queen mother in Isaiah 7:14] gave birth to a son who guaranteed the continuation of the House of David, so Mary gives birth to a son who will reign forever on the throne of David, in the house of Jacob, in the ‘Israel of God’ (cf. Mt. 28:20; 16:18; Gal. 6:16; 2 Sam. 7:16). One notes the royalty of the two women.

Another approach shows the significance of Matthew frequently placing the newborn King alongside His mother. In fact, some have pointed out how Matthew constantly mentioning the child and His mother together—five times in chapter two alone—could draw attention to Mary’s association with her royal Son in a way that recalls the Old Testament queen-mother tradition. Matthew’s recurring phrase “the child and his mother” has “a Davidic resonance” that might bring to mind the way the Book of Kings repeatedly introduces each new Davidic king alongside the queen mother (as discussed in chapter two). As Branick argues:

Matthew has the powerful figure of the Old Testament gebirah or queen-mother in mind as he repeatedly mentions Mary in this story of the birth and infancy of ‘the newborn king of the Jews’ (2:2). Just as the queen-mother was constantly mentioned in the summaries of the Judean and Israelite kings, so Matthew here repeatedly mentions Mary as Jesus’ Mother (1:18; 2:11, 13, 14, 20, 21; 12:46, 47; 13:55).

One more approach to viewing Mary in terms of the queen-mother tradition in Matthew 1–2 examines her position alongside her royal Son when the magi pay Him homage (Mt. 2:11). As mentioned above, this scene involves a number of Davidic kingdom themes: Jesus is called the “king of the Jews” (2:2). The star guiding the magi recalls the star in Balaam’s oracle about the royal scepter rising out of Israel (Num. 24:17). The narrative centers on the city of Bethlehem, where David was born (1 Sam 17:12) and out of which the future Davidic King would come (Micah 5:2). And the magi bringing gifts and paying the child Jesus homage recall the royal Psalm 72:10–11 (cf. Is. 60:6).

[…]

Matthew clearly places his infancy narrative in the context of the hopes surrounding the Davidic kingdom. Interpreting Mary with those Davidic traditions in mind, we can see that, as mother of the newborn Davidic heir, she could be understood as a queen mother.1

For more biblical theological works on Mary, get this month’s free book and other discounted resources.

Editor’s note: This excerpt was slightly adapted for readability. 

Last Chance for a Free Book—Plus 2 More for under $5

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The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church in Verbum Today

Happy feast of The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church!  This “new” feast isn’t actually new.  The basic elements of what Holy Father Francis has promoted to a Memorial has existed in the Roman Missal and Lectionary in various places–and those elements exist in Verbum right now.

The “Catholic Daily Readings” resource doesn’t currently reflect the new memorial yet because this is a text that we get directly from the USCCB and we can’t alter that text.  When they publish an updated edition, you can be sure that we’ll get it into Verbum as soon as we can.

The Saints Index

While we weren’t able to make the Catholic Daily Readings reflect the new memorial, we were able to update the Saints index in Verbum to reflect this new feast.  This is a dataset that we created and maintain.  See below in the screenshot:

Faithlife’s content team was able to make this change to the Saints Index in time for the Memorial Feast today.  There are also other elements of the liturgy that you can access in Verbum.

Roman Missal and Lectionary

Both the Lectionary and Roman Missal each contain the basic elements.  See below in the Roman Missal, Third Typical Edition:

This new Memorial Feast has, essentially, been promoted from a Votive Mass.  As you can see in the right side of the above screenshot, under Votive Masses to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady, Mother of the Church has already been a part of the Church’s liturgy–and is available to you now in Verbum.

One can also access the Lectionary readings for the day, but it is isn’t all available in one place in the text.  If one opens the Lectionary, or Catholic Daily Readings, to the Commons for the Blessed Virgin Mary you find the following:

The above highlighted texts are the recommended and optional readings for the First Reading.  The Responsorial Psalm and Gospel Reading aren’t contained entirely in the above Common in Verbum.  The prescribed Psalm (Psalm 87:1-2, 3; 5, 6-7) isn’t one of the options here.  The Gospel Reading, John 19: 25-34 is found in part as one of the Gospel option for the day.

For further information on the new Memorial Feast to The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, you can check out the directives from the USCCB here.

Enjoy and happy Feast!

–Craig

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today’s the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of all the Americas. Here are some prayers, facts, and photos of ways that Catholics are celebrating her around the world!

Mother’s Day Mariology special

Catholic Mariology Collection (13 vols.)

On Mother’s Day we all take time to think a little more about the mothers or mother figures in our lives. What better time is there to re-focus your devotion to the mother of all mothers—the Mother of God? Mary has the privilege of being the one who brought our Savior into the world through her efforts of pregnancy and child birth—and raising Jesus. Take some extra time in your studies to deepen your understanding of this great mystery.

For just this weekend we are offering a special discount on our Mariology collection. Take advantage of this deal before the weekend is over!

Catholic Mariology Collection (13 vols.)

This collection includes a wide range of texts, from classics by St. Louis de Montfort and St. Alphonsus Ligouri to contemporary works by Scott Hahn and Edward Sri. Enjoy spiritual insights on the rosary, learn the theological significance of the Immaculate Conception, the Virgin Birth, and the Assumption, and study the mystery behind the Theotokos—the Mother of God.

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Free Book from Verbum!

This month’s free book from Verbum is The Glories of Mary.

Written by St. Alphonsus de Liguori, a Doctor of the church, The Glories of Mary brings together a wide variety of information about the Virgin Mary, featuring discussions of the main events in Mary’s life, her virtues, and theological reasons for her veneration. Excellent for expanding your knowledge about the Virgin Mary and for personal devotion, this book is yours for free through May 31st.

Glories of Mary

 

Anne Catherine Emmerich on Joseph’s Search for Lodging

Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich’s mysterious visions have been a subject of ongoing discussion in the Catholic Church. When she was beatified in 2004 by Pope John Paul II, the authenticity of the transcriptions of her visions was thoroughly investigated. Interestingly, her beatification was based on grounds completely apart from the writings associated with her.

These visions have continued to fascinate believers for generations—even the 2003 film The Passion of the Christ was inspired by Emmerich’s vivid visions of Jesus’ crucifixion. We may never be able to prove or disprove these private revelations to Emmerich, but one thing is certain: these accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion and Mary’s life  will draw you you to a closer devotion to the Holy family.

JOSEPH IN VAIN SEEKS FOR A LODGING.—THEY GO TO THE GROTTO OF THE CRIB

THEY then entered into Bethlehem, in which the houses were separated from each other by considerable spaces. They entered across some rubbish and by a gate which was fallen into decay. Mary remained quietly with the ass at the end of the street, and Joseph searched in vain for a lodging in the first houses, for there were many strangers in Bethlehem and many people were running here and there. He returned to Mary and told her that he could find nowhere to lodge there, and that they must go on further into the city. He led the ass by the bridle whilst the Blessed Virgin walked by his side. When they were come to the end of another street Mary remained again near the ass while Joseph went from house to house without being able to find one where they would receive him. He soon returned very much troubled. This was repeated several times, and sometimes the Blessed Virgin had a long time to wait: everywhere the place was taken up, everywhere he was repulsed, and he ended by telling Mary that they must go to another part of Bethlehem, where they would be sure to find what they wanted. They then retraced their steps in the direction contrary to that which they had taken in coming when they turned to the south. They then passed through a street which seemed rather a country road as the houses were isolated and on slight elevations.

Arrived at the other side of Bethlehem, where the houses were still more scattered, they found a large empty space situated in a hollow; it was like a deserted field in the city. There was there a kind of shed, and a short distance from it a large tree, like a lime tree, with a smooth trunk, whose branches extended widely and formed a kind of roof over it. Joseph led the Blessed Virgin to this tree; he arranged a convenient seat for her with bundles at the foot of the trunk, in order that she might rest whilst he sought again for a lodging in the neighbouring houses. The ass stood still with its head turned towards the tree. Mary remained at first standing, leaning against the trunk of the tree. Her robe of white wool had no belt, and fell about her in folds; her head was covered with a white veil. Many persons passed by and looked at her, not knowing that their Saviour was so near them. How patient, humble, and resigned she was. She had to wait a long time, and at last she sat down upon the rugs, her hands joined on her breast, and with her head bowed down. Joseph returned to her in great trouble: he had not found a lodging. The friends of whom he had spoken to the Blessed Virgin would scarcely notice him. He shed tears, and Mary consoled him. He went again from house to house; but as, in order the more to induce them to consent, he had spoken of the near approach of his wife’s confinement, this drew upon him a more distinct refusal.

The place was solitary; but in the end some people passing by looked from a distance with curiosity, as is usual if any one is seen remaining a long time in the same place towards the close of the day. I believe that some of them spoke to Mary and asked her who she was. At last Joseph returned; he was so much troubled that he hardly dare come near her. He told her it was of no use, but that he knew further on in the city a spot where the shepherds often stayed when they came to Bethlehem with their flocks, and that they would find there at least a shelter. He knew the place from his youth: when his brothers tormented him he had often retired there to escape from their persecutions. He said if the shepherds came there he could easily arrange with them, but that they were rarely here at this season of the year. He added, when they were quietly settled he would make further inquiries. They then went away by the eastern side of Bethlehem, following a deserted path which turned to the left. It was a road like one which is found in walking by the side of the dilapidated walls, ditches, and fortifications of a small city in ruins. The road at first rose a little, it then descended the slope of a small hill, and led them a few minutes to the east of Bethlehem, before the place they were seeking, near a hill or an old rampart, in front of which stood some trees. They were green trees (firs or cedars), and other trees which had little leaves like box leaves.

Emmerich, A. C. (1899). The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. (G. Richardson, Trans.) (pp. 69–75). London; New York; Cincinnati; Chicago: Burns and Oates; Benziger Brothers.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas

From J.N. Tylenda’s Saints and Feasts of the Liturgical Year:

The shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, on the outskirts of Mexico City, is the most famous shrine of our Lady in the Western Hemisphere, and today we commemorate her appearances to a native Mexican convert, St. Juan Diego, on Tepeyac Hill. On December 9, 1531, our Lady appeared to him and asked that a church be built on the site, and on December 12 she again appeared and urged him to take her message to the bishop. To offer proof that he was our Lady’s messenger, she told him to gather the flowers he found blooming there in mid-December. When Juan Diego stood before Bishop Juan de Zumárraga, he opened his cloak, and as the flowers cascaded to the floor, those present saw on the rough cloth an image of our Lady—the image still preserved at the shrine. The first sanctuary was built in about 1533; the second was begun in 1556; and the third was built in 1695. The present basilica dates from 1976. In 1746, Our Lady of Guadalupe became the patroness of Mexico, and in 1754 Pope Benedict XIV established December 12 as the feast. In 1945, when Pope Pius XII was speaking of Our Lady of Guadalupe, he called her “Queen of Mexico and Empress of the Americas.” The pope went on to say that the image on the cloak was done “by brushes that were not of this world.” The prayer in the Mass today affirms that by the Virgin Mary’s appearance at Tepeyac, God has brought blessings to the Americas (273-294).

1531_Nuestra_Señora_de_Guadalupe_anagoria

Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico

Deacon Kevin’s Reflections for the 2nd Week of Advent

This guest post is by Deacon Kevin Bagley, Director of Verbum.

We journey closer to Christmas and our anticipation heightens. Last week Jesus spoke of the end times, and we now hear John the Baptist telling us to, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” We must live our lives as Jesus has asked if we want to be part of the Kingdom.

Isaiah tells us that we need to turn our hearts to God. The spirit of the Lord shall come, bestowing gifts upon us: wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, and fear of the Lord. Along with piety, these are the spiritual gifts we receive at Confirmation. The Messiah is so powerful and his message so strong that he will bring peace and justice to all creatures.

Paul tells us that living a Christian life means maintaining peace with each other. During Advent, we should examine our relationship with God and also look at our relationships with others. Now is the time to become reconciled with one another. Now is the time to bring peace into strained relationships.

Take some time to discriminate between the messages you hear this Advent: John the Baptist asks us to prepare, but so do the merchants. John wants us to prepare for eternity; the merchants want us to prepare for a particular event. John urges us to turn to God and be saved; the merchants are ultimately interested selling their products. Yes, we want to have a wonderful Christmas, but if we are not good stewards and live the gospel message, eternity will be a living Hell, literally.

As a reminder: Monday, December 8, is a Holy Day of Obligation. We celebrate Mary’s Immaculate Conception. In 1854, Pope Pius IX declared that the Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the very first instant of her conception, exempt from sin and clothed in sanctifying grace. It is a wonderful opportunity to gather in prayer as community and thank Mary for saying YES to God!

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