Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“If you have received worthily, you are what you have received.” – St. Augustine.  That is why we celebrate today the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The Eucharistic mystery certainly pertains to how a divine food nourishes and transforms us without our consciously understanding how.  It is also the mystery of how Christ is born in our hearts through faith and grows to full stature without our understanding how.  Grace comes to the help of our human nature, making it capable of living the divine life of God – if we are willing.  We become worthy of the Eucharistic bread in the same way that Mary became worthy to bear the Son of God: willingness.  “Let it be done unto me according to thy Word.”  Mary did not understand what would be happening to her when she consented to the Father’s Word delivered to her by the angel Gabriel.  We do not understand what will happen to us when we say “Amen – so be it” to the Eucharistic Bread we receive at Mass.  Our willingness – like Mary’s – does not require us to see in advance exactly where this Bread, this Word, will take us. Yet we know that it is the way of the Cross and the way of Resurrection.  “A sword will pierce your heart also.”

At the same time, the willingness that makes us worthy to receive the Bread we are to become makes us reject evil as well.  We remember our sins and failures before we receive our Lord because He comes to dwell in the same area of our heart that sin occupies.  By confessing our sin, we willingly turn our hearts over to Jesus so that when we receive Him His rule over our lives is unquestioned.  The sin we do not release into the fire of God’s mercy is hostility, unwillingness, and unworthiness.

Building our lives on the Rock means that the way we live is transformed by our willingness to receive the Eucharist.  It means that we daily examine our conscience to avoid those near occasions of sin and grow in virtue.  It means that we listen to the Word daily with the same willingness we have to receive Body and Blood of our Savior.  A life lived this way is worthy of the name Christian, it becomes an echo of the life of Christ.  Mary’s name is holy because her life is an echo of Jesus.  May our lives also echo Him.


That chalice, or rather, what the chalice holds, consecrated by the word of God, is the blood of Christ. Through those elements the Lord wished to entrust to us his body and the blood which he poured out for the remission of sins. If you have received worthily, you are what you have received.1


Thus every soul which receives the bread which comes down from heaven is a house of bread, the bread of Christ, being nourished and having its heart strengthened by the support of the heavenly bread which dwells within it. Hence Paul says: “We are all one bread.” Every faithful soul is Bethlehem, just as that is called Jerusalem which has the peace and tranquility of the Jerusalem on high which is in heaven. That is the true bread which, after it was broken into bits, has fed all humanity.2


So by bread you are instructed as to how you ought to cherish unity. Was that bread made of one grain of wheat? Were there not, rather, many grains? However, before they became bread, these grains were separate. They were joined together in water after a certain amount of crushing. For unless the grain is ground and moistened with water, it cannot arrive at that form which is called bread. So, too, you were previously ground, as it were, by the humiliation of your fasting and by the sacrament of exorcism. Then came the baptism of water. You were moistened, as it were, so as to arrive at the form of bread. But without fire, bread does not yet exist.3


Paul is saying that beneath the surface of the idol there is a demonic power which is out to corrupt faith in the one God.4


This is also made clear by another declaration of our Lord. “The good man,” he says, “as out of a good treasure, pours forth from the heart, good things.” One who is differently disposed, and whose mind is the prey of fraud and wickedness, necessarily brings forth what is concealed deep within. The things that are in the mind and heart boil over and are vomited forth by the stream of speech that flows out of it. The virtuous person therefore speaks such things as become his character, while one who is worthless and wicked vomits forth his secret impurity.5


“He dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock,” for he strove to root out completely whatever base drives he found in the hearts of his faithful. When the traces of earlier habits and unnecessary thoughts had been cast out, he could have a firm and unshakable dwelling place in them. He himself is the rock upon which he laid the foundation for a house of this sort. Just as in building a house nothing is to be preferred to the rock on which the foundation is laid, so holy church has its rock, namely, Christ, concealed in the depths of its heart.…6


He teaches that the foundation of the virtues is obedience of heavenly instructions, whereby this house of ours cannot be shaken by the flow of desires, by the assault of spiritual wickedness, by the rain of the world or the dark arguments of heretics.7


  1. EASTER SERMON 227. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 97). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  2. LETTER 45. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (pp. 97–98). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  3. EASTER SERMON 227. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 98). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  4. COMMENTARY ON PAUL’S EPISTLES. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 98). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  5. COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 33. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 113). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  6. HOMILIES ON THE GOSPELS 2.25. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 114). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  7. EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 5.82. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 114). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
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