Looking Closer at the Hail Mary: OF
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
A reflection on the word “OF”
By Val Bianco
When I was asked by Sarah to become the third of four people to discuss the word “of”, I figured I’d start with the etymology of “of.” After a few mouse clicks, I was spared the effort, considering that enough research has been done and explained by my erudite predecessors, Carol Ann and Lisa. So, “standing on the shoulders of giants,” I will proceed.
“Of” is a preposition, meaning “from.” It can indicate ownership or position, neither of which has any meaning unless the word forms a bridge between two other words. In my assignment, the 28th word of the Hail Mary, those words are “Mother” and “God”. So, with apologies to the owners of these, my neighbor words, I will proceed while trying to blow as few of my leaves onto their lawns as possible.
I have long felt that there is no human relationship that so closely mirrors the love of God for man as that of a mother for her child. Sadly, the inversion of this most perfect of human loves, abortion, would seem to be the magnum opus of Satan. In the Mother of God, however, this relationship is elevated to the pinnacle of human love. No two human beings ever have, or will, approach this level of being “of” each other. And so my “of” forms the bridge between the perfection of humanity and Perfection Itself.
Mary is “of” God in that she is from Him and, in her Fiat, she completely belongs to Him. Jesus, in turn, is “of” her in that His humanity springs forth from her. His genetic code, His eyes, hair color, blood type, and His smile are all “of” His mother, Mary. She nursed Him, changed Him, made his favorite foods, prayed with Him and sang Him to sleep. Our Lady heard His first breath and His last. He was hers, and hers alone, until she gave Him to Humanity, even as He gave her hers.
Mary’s divine Son, Jesus, was truly “of” her in a way that I will never understand, for only another mother can fully do so.
Can there be any clearer indication of this binding link than Cana? Mother “of” God, God “of” Mother. The first empirical evidence that this carpenter’s son was God seemed little more than a magic trick. No one was healed, no one was saved. Seems kind of insignificant for the Messiah’s first miracle. Why? The answer is Mary. She asks, “They have no wine.” He responds, “Woman what is that to Me…My hour is not yet come.” And she instructs the stewards as she has throughout history, speaking her heart’s only desire, “Whatsoever He shall say to thee, do it.”
Can it be coincidence that John records this dialogue? I think not. I believe that Cana, in it’s primacy, is a gift to us, a lesson in “of.” It is a clear reminder of the awesome power of a mother: the power to literally change God’s mind! This, to me, is the full weight of the 28th word of the Hail Mary. Humble “of,” the bridge between the words “Mother” and “God,” the bridge between divinity and humanity, without which Heaven would have been utterly unattainable.
Val Bianco is a Catholic husband, father of ten, and writer, whose recently published novel, Sons of Cain, is one that I highly recommend. He keeps me chuckling on Twitter and rumor has it that he has a penchant for single malt whiskey.
image credit: MorgueFile