Thursday August 22, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Queenship of Mary
Reading (Isaiah 9:1-6) Gospel (St. Luke 1:26-38)
Today is the octave day for the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady. Consequently, it is the feast of the Queenship of Mary. As we look back over these last eight days to ponder Our Lady's triumph as God brought her to Heaven - crushing the devil's head as she goes, destroying death underneath her - she now is crowned as Queen of all of Heaven and Earth, higher than the angels even, because she loved more than they. We think, just for a moment, about Our Lady's love. When we think of the word "seraph" - the seraphim, the highest order of angels - what that means is one who is on fire, one who is burning with love for God. Our Lady loves God even more; therefore, she is exalted even beyond the seraphim, who bow down before her as she bows down before God.
Now, one could ask, "What does it mean to call Our Lady Queen of all of Heaven and Earth?" She is not the queen because she is the glorious one who reigns above all. It is true; she is that, but that is not why she has the title. She is not the queen merely because she is the mother of the King. We heard in the Gospel reading that He was given the throne of His father David. We heard in the first reading also from the prophet Isaiah that there was going to be this child who would be born for us and that "a son is given to us". It says of Him that "upon His shoulders dominion rests" and "His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David's throne and over His kingdom, which He confirms and sustains". So we know that, as the Son of David, as the One who was promised to David that a son would be seated upon his throne forever, Jesus is the One who is the true Son of David, the One who is King forever. And so, of course, the mother of the King is going to be the queen. But that is not the reason why we celebrate this feast either.
It is because of that little line at the end of the Gospel reading: "Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to Thy word." It is because Our Lady spent her entire life, and now she spends her eternity, in service to her children. Because she is our mother and because all that she does and all that she has ever done is to serve, to pour herself out for her Son and for all of those who would be saved by Him, she prays for us before the throne of Almighty God. Remember that the royal office is one of service; it is not one who is served by everyone else. Jesus said, "I came into this world, not to be served, but to serve; and to give My life as a ransom for the many." Mary, who is the most perfect imitator and follower of Jesus, did exactly the same. She served. She did not seek to be served, but she gave - and she continues to give. She is a mother before she is anything else. And because she is a mother she is the queen, because she is the one who intercedes for her children. She continues to serve each one of us in Heaven through her intercession for us before the throne of God. That is why she is the queen.
It is also fitting, if we look at it from an historical perspective, because in ancient Israel, from the time of Solomon, the son of David, until the time that the kingship ended in Israel, there was a Queen Mother, the mother of the king who sat down on a throne next to the king. She was there as the one who would be the merciful one, tempering the judgment of the king. The king could sometimes be a little harsh, but his mother was right there pleading on behalf of the people. When Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon, came into the royal throne room, it was not she who bowed down before the king - rather, the king stood up and bowed down before his mother and ordered that a second throne would be brought out and would be seated right next to his. And it was upon that throne, next to the throne of the king, that she would be seated. Until she died, she remained as the Queen Mother of the whole kingdom.
So too, Our Lady is now seated before the throne of God. She is seated next to the throne of her Son. James and John asked for the throne next to the Lord, but Jesus said, "That is for those for whom God has already determined." And the one that God had determined was His mother. She is seated at the right hand of the throne of her Son, and it is there that she pleads for us, that she begs for the mercy of God for each one of us so that her children will all be gathered around her. Remember always that she is a mother first, and a mother likes nothing more than to have all of her children gathered right around her. Our Lady is no different. As queen, she wants us to be with her so that we, with her, will be able to worship and glorify her Son for all eternity around the throne of God at the table of the eternal banquet. That is where she wants each one of us, and that is the way she is spending her eternity: praying for us, serving us, and helping us to be able to get to Heaven where we will be able, with her, to glorify God forever.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.