This last Sunday before Christmas, Deacon Joe Bell gave the homily at the 9:30 Mass at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada. In the homily, he pointed out how he read an article emphasizing Isaiah 7:14, “The Master/Adonai Himself shall give you a sign: behold, הִנֵּה הָעַלְמָה shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Im Anu El/God is With Us.” The key word is Alma /הָעַלְמָה, “Haolam,” which can translate as, “Young girl.” The scholars take the root word to mean vigorous, which is a valid translation, so can mean any young girl. Regrettably, for these scholars, the word can also mean secret and therefore, atonement/ forgiveness, and eternity. Most Hebrew blessings end with some form of “Blessed be he forever and ever.” The Hebrew form is עַלְמָ ל, “Leolam” The verse can therefore translate as, “Eternity will conceive and bear a son,” or “Forgiveness will conceive and bear a son.”
Another clear that relates to this young girl, and the brothers and sisters of Jesus, Zechariah 12:10: “I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of surrounding grace. They shall look unto Me/Our Blessed Virgin because they have thrust him/Jesus through. They shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.”
Joe Bell was quick to point out in his homily; there is ample evidence that St. Luke in particular was well aware of this passage. St. Luke, 1:28 states, “Gabriel came to her, he said, “Hail, Χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη gracious one! Kyrie is with you.” The key word is from the Greek root, “χαριτόω,” “gracious,” and is in the Greek perfect passive. She is made gracious, in the perfect sense. The Aramaic phrase, from the Aramaic Peshita, literally translates, “Full of Grace.”
In our Catholic tradition, we have the “Nunc Dimittus,” “Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “This child is destined to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
This passage is a reference to the passage in Zechariah, “They shall look unto Me because they have thrust him through.” Mary is thrust through as her son is thrust through. The passage continues, “They shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son.” Zechariah refers to the Messiah as an only son, a first-born. The Apostles thought of Jesus as the first and only born son of our Blessed Virgin. That is why St. Luke emphasizes this passage from Zechariah in his nativity story. Our Blessed Virgin had one and only one child. Those who insist on otherwise deny that Jesus can be the Messiah. It is just that simple.
Deacon Joe related what Americans might not know about Virgin Mary. In America, we become engaged to our future spouses and live apart. Conjugal rights are not part of the engagement contract. This was not so in the first century Jewish wedding contract. Still, our Blessed Virgin says, “I have no relations with a man?” Our Blessed Virgin is pure.
The Barbra Streisand movie, “Yentl” reminds us how in the first century, Jewish girls did not study Torah, Prophets, Writings… If Our Blessed Virgin is not a Yentl, she could not know what a “Son of the Most High,” is, or who David or Joseph are. Our Blessed Virgin knows the traditions of the Jewish people. She refers to God using I Samuel 2:1-11, which refers to God as “El Shaddai,” literally, “The Most High.”
This brings us to Revelations, 12:17, “The Taanah became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s Mitvah and witness to Jesus.”
Who is the woman? Revelations 12:5 tells us how in reference to Psalm 2:9, the child of this woman is the Messiah, Jesus. His mother is Our Blessed Virgin. Who are her offspring? They are those who keep Mitzvah and witness to Jesus. That is all of us.
In his homily, Deacon Joe Bell discussed how Venus is the morning star, and the Phosphorous, or Phos/photo/light, Pheros, carrier. In Easter Orthodox vocabulary, she is Theotokos, Theo/ God, Tokos/giving birth to. This is all a clear reference to Revelations 12:1. Our Blessed Virgin gives birth to Jesus in Judea/the land of Thanksgiving/Eucharist, in the House of Bread/ Beth Lechem, Bethlehem.
Shepherds find Jesus in a feeding trough, just as we find Jesus in the feeding trough at Mass. God, through our Blessed Virgin demands that after we receive the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, we carry him out into the world as Our Blessed Virgin carried him until he came into the world.
At our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, our Franciscan priests daily recite the Magnificat of Our Blessed Virgin, as she quotes the Song of Hannah, telling us to: disperse the arrogant of mind and heart, throw down the rulers from their thrones and lift up the lowly, fill the hungry with nobility; and send the rich away empty. If we are going to be Christ like, Christian, we must follow our anointing, and bring glad tidings to the poor proclaim liberty/not-long jail sentences, to captives and recover sight to the blind, let the oppressed go free, and proclaim a year acceptable to Kyrie.
In Reno Nevada, in particular at our Cathedral, our call from God, and our Blessed Virgin as Catholics, as Christians, and as Americans is to fulfill this mandate and create one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.