CELEBRATING 70 YEARS OF GOD’S GOODNESS AND MERCY – c.f. LUKE 1:49
A TALK GIVEN DURING THE 70th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF ST. MARY SANCTUARY – BUOHO
We could not have chosen a better theme. To celebrate God on this holy grounds within the last seven decades. It is not for nothing that the eyes were made, to see, evaluate and choose between what is right and wrong. But to see and choose to celebrate goodness implies that one has good eyes, for his eyes focuses not on negativity, failures and losses but successes and goodness among all that God does. It will not be far-fetched to describe as godly he who sees and chooses the good(ness) over the losses since God himself was the first to see good(ness) in all he had made, c.f. Gen 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31.
After a thorough search in the scriptures for any significant meaning for the number seventy (70) to relate it to the theme, I was convinced of only two instances Is 23:15 and Jer. 29:10. The former which I will associate briefly now and the latter I will leave till the end of this talk. According to Is 23:15 seventy (70) years was the span of a king’s life. Can I therefore say that our grotto has lived the life of kings, did not collapse prematurely nor phase out despite some initial challenges…?
What we are celebrating is not what we have achieved as a grotto but ‘the great things the Most High has done’ for and with us. We are celebrating his goodness and not ours. In what consist this goodness of God? An attempt at defining goodness especially in relation to God.
Goodness – in Heb ‘tubh’ while the LXX renders it ἀγαθοῖς. But for the purposes of this talk I prefer to use another Hebrew word hesed which translates as goodness, mercy, kindness or faithfulness in English.
The hesed (goodness) of God is a perfection of his character which he exercises towards his creatures according to their various circumstances and relations. His goodness is exercised in relation to the miseries of his creatures. He gives Mic 7:20; sends Ps 57:3; remembers, Ps 25:6; and shows kindness (as the worshipper pleads to be shown it), Ps 85:7. He also causes it to be heard, Ps 143:8; makes it great Ps 103:11; as he surrounds, Ps 32:10; satisfies Ps 90:14; and crowns Ps 103:4, individuals and groups with it. God’s kindness amounts to grace when it is exercised in communicating his favour towards the unworthy.
God’s name and goodness (kindness) are identical Ps 25:7. Indeed, kindness is used to express his very essence so that the worshipper among other things refers to him as “my lovingkindness and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer; my shield and He in whom I take refuge, (Ps. 144:2 NAS) and idolaters those who forsake his kindness, Jon 2:8.
Three elements constitute hesed concept. It is active, social and enduring.
Active: It is an intervention on behalf of someone in need, one who is in depraved situation who suffers some misfortune. It is an experience that is seen and felt. It pursues what is good and not what is evil. That is why the preferred and appropriate English translation of hesed is goodness, grace or kindness.
In its social nature hesed implies that there is always someone to whom it must be shown or from whom it is expected. God’s kindness towards an individual places that individual in a new relationship with his neighbour, a relationship based on YHWH’s kindness; in his daily contacts with others he must keep the kindness he has experienced, (we shall see that in the life of Mary and why she had to make that journey to Elizabeth), he must practice righteousness and justice, kindness and mercy. Thus hesed shapes not only the relationship of YHWH with human beings, but also that of human beings among themselves.
Moreover, the hesed like his promise has permanency, constancy and reliability. Like his essence so his hesed endures forever.
His kindness is manifested in things both material and spiritual. It may OT it included:
Life granted to man, Job 10:12, increase in his possessions Gen 32:10-11, the success in finding a bride Gen 24:12,14,27 an active establishment of a dynasty 2Sam 7:15. It was his kindness that guided Israel Ex 15:13, through it He loved them with an everlasting love – Jer. 31:2 and he continued to reveal his kindness for all nations to see in the history of Israel – Ps 98:2; Ps 117:2.
There are several other instances where God’s kindness was demonstrated in things spiritual. Salvation and deliverance – c.f. Ps 13:6
Indeed, the world and all it contains is the stage for the demonstration of God’s hesed. We see this affirmed by the psalmist, “…the earth is full of his kindness”, Ps 33:5. God has promised life, sustenance, justice, care, liberation, and preservation to cover wherever his creation reaches. For this they (creation) are called to offer thanks for the kindness shown them Ps 107:8, 15, 21,31.
As the first beneficiary of this hesed Israel and each individual responds to this act of God through worship, praises in hymns, and by confessing (announcing) it. Among the words are employed to declare this kindness are: singing (of the goodness) – Ps 59:17-18; declaration of the goodness – Ps 92:2-3; recount – Is 63:7; rejoicing Ps 31:7-8; and boasting Ps 52:1-3.
Ps 106 is a clear example of responding to this goodness of God. It recounts God’s benevolent actions in favour of his people throughout their history. As a Todah (thanksgiving) psalm it presents a litany of thanksgiving for the rescue of wanderers, the imprisoned, the sick and wayfarers. Each of these saving situations is followed by a standard refrain ‘Let them thank the LORD for his love and his wondrous deeds to mankind’. David is credited as the one who embellished the liturgy of Israel by making the thanksgiving an integral part of the service, (c.f. 1Chr 16:4-7, 8-11,37), by appointing ministers in a daily routine with instruments to praise God ‘for his love is everlasting’ 1Chr 16:41. Therefore, a true magnifying of the Lord cannot exist without instruments, music and dance.
The hesed of God must become the object of human action. Man does not live to trust God’s kindness but his entire existence must be spent proclaiming this goodness. The prophet Jonah calls idolaters those who forsake God kindness, c.f. Jon 2:8. The worshipper should neither conceal God’s goodness (Ps 40:10-11) nor must it depart from him Is 54:10 since this goodness follows him Ps 23:6.
Let us now turn our attention to our text and try to situate it in the larger context of God’s goodness.
LUKE 1:49 in its larger context
After her encounter with the archangel (Lk 1,26-38), Mary depart ‘in haste’ to ‘see’ Elizabeth her family member, where she will find better help since she will be in the house of a priest. This is how Luke describes her movement: she leaves (μετὰ σπουδῆς) with haste, in a hurry, with genuine commitment and zeal, with eagerness and diligence. Remember how the tribes had to leave Egypt μετὰ σπουδῆς (with haste), Ex 12:11, since it was a divine command. This reflects Mary as the new Israel who under obedience and plan of God must depart ‘quickly and suddenly’ when she hears the voice of God.
It is important to note that unlike Lk 2:4-7 and Matt 2:14 where she is in the company of Joseph, here Mary makes the journey alone. Blessings could be relational therefore since her cousin’s name appeared on the lips of the angel she had to go in search of her.
The account has this structure: Mary’s journey – vv. 39- 40a; Her greeting and its effects – vv.40b – 41; Elizabeth’s blessing of mother and child – vv. 42 -45; Mary’s canticle (with the blessing of God vv. 46-55); Mary’s return journey – v.56
Mary’s song, the Magnificat (which forms part of the larger account) can further be divided into two major strophes vv46b-50; vv51-55. The first part expresses her sense of blessedness while the second espouses God’s intervention – demonstrating the holiness of name and his mercy for all generations.
The Magnificat in many ways resembles a psalm type known as hymn of praise. It has an introduction praising God, the body which list the motives of praise (these are began by ‘because’ clause and a conclusion.
Mary magnifies the Lord by means of the words of her song. To magnify etymologically implies to make great. It could also mean, to aggrandize, celebrate or glorify, c.f. Acts 5:13. It was also used figuratively in recognizing the greatness of a person’s name or reputation, to extol, praise or magnify someone, c.f. Acts 10:46. Putting these words on the lips of Mary make sense for Luke who now associates salvation (once attached to the death and resurrection of Jesus) with now his birth.
What has YHWH done for Mary – daughter of Zion, mother of human race and to a larger extent mankind as whole? What is she proclaiming or magnifying? What is Mary celebrating? Let us treat them:
Luke 1:48 – ‘He has had regard for’ – ὅτι ἐπέβλεψεν… the Greek verb means ‘to pay special attention to’. Luke employs it again in 9:38 this time in reference to man whose son was possessed by a demon. “And behold, a man from the multitude shouted out, saying, “Teacher, I beg You to look at my son, for he is my only boy”. The father implores Jesus Christ to look upon his boy with pity and extend aid to him. It is an appeal for divine regard and help.
In the case of Mary, it was not an appeal she made rather YHWH himself had given her ‘special attention’. But in what consisted this divine help? The Lord had had regard on her ‘humble state’ ‘low estate’ (ταπείνωσιν), an experience of reversal from a higher to lower level, (grace to grass) a condition of being considered little or of no account – it was considered an ‘afflicted state’. It was to be distinguished from “humble of heart” which was a virtue.
Metaphorically, it could have reflected Zion personified as woman who due to her childlessness was not able to bring forth a deliverer, (c.f. Is 9:6). But now God had considered his servant. He had had regard for her afflicted state and considered her distress to favour her or to give her a son.
Mary does not have any personal or individual affliction; her affliction is simply that of God’s people waiting his saving intervention on their behalf. It is rather the cognate of the Greek verb ταπείνωσιν in 1:52 ταπεινούς, translated humble, downcast, or lowly which reflects Mary’s situation, the modest circumstances of her life as a young woman. However, in the world of her time her virginity could be likened to barrenness, situations that only the might of God could overcome. (Virginity at the time was not regarded as a noble status, may be unfortunately, like our day).
Apparently, YHWH has an eye for that which the world neglects and would oft treat with disdain. As a result of this he demonstrates special attention to them. But from the moment that his special care for His servant (Mary) is manifested, the one who hitherto did not merit consideration before men, she (Mary) will be given a recognition by all generations. Once God has looked upon her with special attention, kept a divine surveillance over her and raised her to a lofty status no man dares to treat her with contempt. If YHWH honoured Mary, with divine eyes and tender loving hands, lifting her from her lowly state, what is man to deny her such honour?
We obey the Lord in honouring her as we call her blessed daily. There are some of us who do so countless times through the Hail Mary prayer. Others till today refuse and deny her this honour out rightly because to them calling her ‘blessed’ is rather idolatrous. Unknown to them they call her ‘blessed’ annually when they read the infant narratives at Christmas. Therefore, once every year, at Christmas they join us in this practice of ‘idolatry’. What they do once a year we practice daily through the praying of the Hail Mary.
Unknown to them there is a decisive point in salvation history that they are missing especially when one considers these three words ‘from now on’ (ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν). The turning point is Mary’s pregnancy. Because she carried the ‘Son of God’, the Father had to keep an eye on her. Mary held that which belonged to him (God), therefore he could not keep his eyes off her. From that ‘moment on’ when generations when heard of reference being made to heaven and of the Son, they had to look at Mary since he (Christ Jesus) had taken flesh and dwelt among men in the ‘earthly-heaven-womb’.
When God ‘look upon’ persons He does not forget them, his look implies a judgment a decision on them. It is an election and salvation, as we read in Leviticus “I will look with favour upon you and make you fruitful and multiply you; and I will maintain my covenant with you” (c.f. Lev 26: 9 NRS).
Elizabeth in this account therefore becomes a prototype of all who will later call her (Mary) blessed. The figure of Elizabeth hints who can proclaim such blessedness. A wife of a priest, aged yet upright before God and blameless according to his commands, Luke 1:6.
Luke 1:49 He has done great things for me…with his arm. In the OT ‘great things’ was a stereotypical term for God’s saving intervention especially the exodus. Probably referring to Ps 71:19 “…and your righteousness, O God, reach the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? also Deut. 10:21 “He is your praise; he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen”; and “for it is your own eyes that have seen every great deed that the LORD did”. Here, the ‘great things’ refer to liberation and victories God had wrought for his people or his elect.
The first part of the hymn ends with Mary espousing the attributes of God: He is mighty, holy ands merciful. vv. 49-50a.
Luke 1:50 And His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him. The mercy of God was a common idea in Old Testaments, as (treated above). In the NT context will be a renewal of the covenant in Jesus. A covenant which will not be the preserve of Israel but all people, that is ‘generation to generation’. Of course running through the previous Old Israel generation yet in a new and special way open to the ‘New Israel’.
Note the movement from the first person (singular) to the third person (plural). The recipient or beneficiary of the mercy, the great things of YHWH shift from the first person singular ‘he has done …for me’ (Mary) to ‘those’ who fear his name. the horizon is expanded go beyond Israel to all who all accept the Good news, c.f. Acts 10:35. God’s mercy is manifested in his faithfulness to his covenant promises to Israel and all subsequent generations. These must also laud him for the great things that will be worked in their favour.
Part two of the hymn 51-55 begins
Apart from 1:48b, Luke presents God as the subject of the verbs from 48-55. They are all verbs in the ‘past’ (aorist) which show God’s action in his creation. On the other, at face value, one may contemplate that she praises God for an event which is still yet to happen, that is, the birth of the Messiah. The hymn as it stands is a description of God’s role in salvific history. An action he had plan and executed but not yet visible to man. The aorist refers to a definite action in the past, namely, the salvation brought about through the death and resurrection of Jesus. That was the supreme manifestation of God’s arm because Luke is interpreting the conception of Jesus in light not only of the post-resurrectional Christology of the Church, but also of post-resurrectional soteriology, particularly of the Jewish Christian Anawim of Jerusalem described in Acts of the Apostles.
Mary does not sing only about the grace given her to be the mother of the Lord and its accompanying greatness, she also magnifies God for extending his elevation to all the lowly. We see a broadening of the perspective that visualizes God’s favour and mercy that is poured out over the poor and lowly on the occasion of incarnation of Jesus. There is a revolutionary reversal of social and political situations which takes place in God’s outpouring of his mercy through the advent of Christ his Son.
Luke 1:51a He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
Applied anthropomorphically to YHWH, ‘the arm’ referred to His power, that is, his power to deliver, support, conquer. It was His “outstretched arm” that delivered Israel from Egypt (Ex 6:6; Dt 4:34, etc.). They support: “Underneath are the everlasting arms” (Dt 33:27). His arm protects (Isa 40:11). Sometimes likened to a warrior, with his arm YHWH smites (Ps 89:10; Isa 63:5; Jer 21:5). The prophet Zeph. presents YHWH as exhibiting his might as a warrior in battle to save Israel, Zeph. 3:17 “The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing”. In the NT, however, the salvific might of God was made visible in the person of Jesus, a man attested by ‘mighty works’, c.f. Acts 2:22.
In every visitation and manifestation of his might, YHWH both saves and punishes. With salvation coming to the humble and obedient while the rebellious and disobedient are punished. vv.52-53 highlight clearly this parallelism.
Luke 1:51b: He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
There is no specific antithesis for this group ‘the proud in the thoughts of their own hearts’. It will not be far-fetched to find its antithesis in ‘those who fear’ his name in v50. Both receive what their conduct deserves, the ‘fearful’ are drawn into his mercy, an atmosphere of compassion, sympathy and protection while the ‘proud’ (do not fear God v50, neither are they hungry v53, nor afflicted 48,52) trusting in their own worth find themselves dispersed and scattered, keeping their long distance from his mercy.
Luke 1:52: “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble.
Like the proud, these ‘rulers’ are the oppressors of the lowly (Israel), the servant of YHWH c.f. Is 41|:8-12. They are the ones who plot against the Lord and his messiah, c.f. Ps 2:1-2. But they shall be broken and shattered into pieces like a potter’s jar. Ps 2:9. The servant is thus assured of God’s intervention and the restoration of his fortunes. The elevation may imply a social position or status (probably Israel among the common wealth of nations) but they will also be given a special place with God as their exaltation v52b. Certainly, these verses have socio-political undertones but beneath them lies soteriological implications. The oppressed, marginalised may be afflicted now but the tables will definitely turn with YHWH acting on their behalf to save them.
Luke 1:53: “He has filled the hungry with good things; And sent away the rich empty-handed.
The ‘good things’ according to Luke could mean both material, “But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things…” Lk.16:25 and spiritual goods “there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her”. Lk 10:42. In the parable Lk 12:18, the rich fool was stripped (empty-handed) of his goods and as well as his life.
The opposite of the ‘anawim’ was not simply the rich, but the proud and self-sufficient who showed no need of God or his help. This is evident in the parable of the rich fool.
The poverty and hunger expressed here are also spiritual. Luke in his gospel emphasis the special place of such a group the ‘anawim’. To them the good news had be given, the poor, hungry, shepherds etc. Of this group Mary leads and on their lips is found this hymn which identify them with the remnant of Israel. YHWH has filled with them good things.
However, the we should not forget that the early Christians were victimised. There was real poverty among the Jerusalem Christians. The parable in Luke 20:9 probably shows how slaves under oppressive occupations and repressive taxes (c.f. Acts 5:37) rose against their lords and revolted against such repressive conditions. They are with us too. We see them oppressed and marginalized even in our religious gatherings. If we turn a blind eye to them, in vain will be our celebration.
Luke 1:54-55: “He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
This verse echoes v50. It is probably a conflation of two texts from the OT. “You will show faithfulness to Jacob and unswerving loyalty to Abraham, as you have sworn to our ancestors from the days of old”, Mic. 7:20 and “He is a tower of salvation for his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever”, 2 Sam. 22:51
It is a mercy promised to the fathers (patriarchs), and to Abraham and his descendants forever. The promise which was made to Abraham and began with him as the father of the ‘Jewish nation, running through his sons now finds fulfilment in Mary the ‘mother’ of the ‘Jewish nation’. Abraham on his part praised God in his belief which was credited to him as righteousness though he had not seen the fulfilment, while Mary believed the angel and the promises accompanying his message.
At the one end there is an old man and the other end a young maiden. Both of them believe. What the patriarchs did not see in their day, Israel had to wait for the fiat of the highly favoured matriarch, Mary in order to see the promise of old fulfilled. Now fulfilled she leads her children in magnifying the Lord who has been faithful to his covenant although it took several thousands of years.
FROM AN INDIVIDUAL/PERSONAL – A UNIVERSAL PRAISE
In the economy of salvation Gods always reveals his mercy and salvation to people through a single individual. Noah is used to save his family and animals, (Gen. chs.6-8), Joseph (Gen 45|:5) becomes the saviour of his family and the tribes, through the prostitute Rahab her family will be saved Josh (6:22-25), Judith’s courage brings salvation to Judah (Judith chs.8-16).
As the personal praise of Mary preceded that of the universal so after acknowledging what God has accomplished for this holy grounds (as an individual entity) we must now recognise his mercy for this country despite our numerous blunders as individuals and groups. Established some eight (8) years before Ghana’s independence, this grotto was to become like a ‘Joseph’ (who preceded his family in Egypt to save them during the catastrophe) to Ghana so that the tragedies that would strike her after nationhood would be averted.
Buoho shares some striking similarities with our dear country Ghana. The month of March being decisive for both. For the former real work began in earnest in March (1949) while with the latter, real independence began on 6th March (1957).
Circumstances that have sent some nations into civil war, with its citizens maiming and killing each other might have taken similar or worse trends here in the last 62 years after independence. Yet God has been faithful to us.
Buoho marked her Golden Jubilee before Ghana at 50 celebrations. We heard the rumours of the misappropriating of funds, that followed after the golden anniversary celebrations. Then came the 60th anniversary. We must celebrate this 70th year in way that will be a paradigm our dear country as she prepares to mark its seventieth year of independence some eight years from now.
Ecclesiastically, after its inception under the former (then) Kumasi diocese, and being the epicentre and apogee for the congregation of all true Marian children, their intercession on this holy grounds duly approved by the Lord ensured the conception and birth of Sunyani, Konongo – Mampong, Obuasi in 1995, Goaso, Techiman.
24 years ago in 1995 Buoho officially became part of the new carved Konongo Mampong Diocese under its first and current bishop Most Rev. Joseph Osei Bonsu. Within these 24 years the grotto has seen significant development especially in these last 2 and half years. Since 24 karat gold is considered 100% gold. May this 24th year of possession and administration became a ‘golden year’ (moment) for the Diocese of Konongo-Mampong since 24 karat gold is pure gold. A golden moment that will usher the ‘Silver Jubilee’ Celebrations for the entire diocese next year. It is right then that we have a foretaste of these blessings now, Buoho’s 70th year of existence but most importantly its 24th year of being under the jurisdiction of Konongo-Mampong. This will only be the beginning of blessings as the diocese prepares to celebrate her 25th anniversary. She will draw from the fountain of blessedness poured here so that I may also serve as true refuge and home for its bishop, priests, religious, seminarians, catechists, societies, and all men and women of good will.
From its inception till date its seventieth (70th) year, the sanctuary has had nine (9) directors’ V. Rev. Fr Daniel Tawiah Yesre, (of blessed memory), V. Rev. Fr Daniel Opoku Mensah, Msgr Theresah Paul, (of blessed memory), V. Rev. Fr. Paul Atta-Nsiah, V. Rev. Fr Paul Baffour-Awuah, V. Rev. Fr. Amoakohene Tawiah, V. Rev. Fr. Francis Amoah Anning, V. Rev. Fr Clement Arthur Boachie, V. Rev. Fr Emmanuel Effah with the current V. Rev. Fr Augustine Clement Owusu being the (tenth 10th)? One cannot but laud all these wonderful directors for their various contributions and toils. My visit last year left a deep impression on me and I must share with you. I was startled to witness the development and changes that had taken place. You must and ask God to bless Fr Augustine Clement Owusu for speeding up this project. He has given a true meaning to why providentially he was chosen as the tenth (10th) director.
Beloved, Buoho has lived to its nomenclature. It has been a rock (place) of refuge which has reflected the biblical sites which offered something special to personalities who once found themselves there or when they were in need. I now present to you an alphabetical list of places in the scriptures and how this sanctuary reminisces the role these places placed:
Achor – The valley of Achor for a door of hope says Hos 2:15 (“I will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she shall respond as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt”.) where trouble would be turned into joy, despair into hope. Isaiah adds “And the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for my people who have sought me”, Isa. 65:10.
Bethel (Gen 28:10-17) where like Jacob (who saw a ladder with its top reaching up to heaven) the many who climbed here have seen a ladder (right here on this foundation) with its top reaching heaven with the angels ascending and descending as the ground of intercession and divine visitation.
Cana: Jn 2:1-11 the first miracle of Lord was performed here.
Dothan: It was the residence of Elisha (2 Kings 6:13), and the scene of a remarkable vision of chariots and horses of fire surrounding the mountain on which the city stood.
Ebenezer – (stone of help). Place between Mizpah and Jeshanah where Israel was defeated and the Ark taken away. Twenty years later at this same place there will be a battle where the enemy will be routed, the ARK returned and the towns taken restored. 1 Sam 7:14. In 7:12 a stone will be erected as a memorial for this victory and restoration. Can you recall anything you lost twenty years ago? Pray God to make Buoho your Ebenezer, so you may erect a memorial to his name forever.
Fair Havens- (Acts 27:8): Here the ship of Alexandria in which Paul and his companions sailed was detained a considerable time waiting for a favourable wind.
Goshen – (Gen 47:27 where the tribes settled in Egypt) Buoho has been a centre of refuge for the tribes of Ghana. Or Gethsemane or Golgotha
Haran – where the young have found their future spouses just like Isaac –Rebecca Gen 24:10; Jacob – Rachel Gen 29:4-14;
Jericho – spring of refreshment for strangers,
Kiriath jearim – 1Sam 7:1-2 – place of repose for the Ark. Buoho has been the new kiriathjearim for the new ark Mary.
Lehi – where the spirit of the Lord descended on Samson, the ropes that bound him became like flax burned in the fire and h knots were loosened from his arms.
Maon– 1 Sam 23:25 where David will hide from Saul when he realised Saul was pursuing him.
Nain – Lk 7:11-17 Jesus first miracle of raising the dead or Nazareth.
Oreb – And the LORD of hosts will wield against them a whip, as when he struck Midian at the rock of Oreb Is 10:26a.
Penuel – (Gen 32:24-32): Jacob will wrestle with the angel of the Lord.
Quarantania – Mount Quarantania (Jabal Qarantul in Arabic) 7 miles north west of Jericho. the traditional sight of the Lord’s temptation. Mt 4:8.
Ramoth-gilead – (2Kings 9:4-5): place where Jehu will be anointed king over Israel.
Shiloh – (1 Sam 1:9-20) where God will grant the desire of many women who cried for the gift of fruit of the womb; the same place (like Samuel in 1Sam 3:1-21) where many young men and women would receive the gift and call into priesthood and the religious life. or Shechem (Gen 12:1-6) where Abram built his first altar and received his first promise.
Tob – Jud 11:3 where Jephthah fled to when his half siblings drove him away calling him a son of a prostitute.
Uz – Job 1:1 the place where Job lived, where he was told to strike the ground with his foot with that water flowed for a cool bath and drink. c.f. Koran (Sura) 38:41-42.
Valley of Salt: after the victory here David becomes famous, and from here God will make him victorious wherever he went c.f. 2Sam 8:13.
X – there is no place with this name in the scriptures with X because it is the first letter of the Greek word for Christ, chi. Anyone who comes here is led by Christ and must carry this symbol where physically or spiritually with him or her. Anyone who walks here will be marked by the symbol and designated as belonging to him.
Zoar (Gen 19:20-22) the town spared when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed as Lot and his daughters sought refuge there. Or Zarephath 1Kgs 17:10 where Elijah will pray for rain after the heavens had been locked up 3 years and six months.
By Rev. Fr. Louis Cecilia Adu-Poku
Adu-Poku, L.C. Understanding the Hail Mary, a personal survey, Kumasi R2013.
Bovon, F., Luca, Brescia 2005.
Zobel H.J.G «hesed» Theological Dictionary of the OT, (Botterweck G.J. – Ringgren H., eds), Cambridge R1977 44-64.
Brown, R., The Birth of the Messiah, NY 1993.
The Qur’an, English meaning and notes by Saheeh International, Jeddah 2012.
Unless otherwise indicated all biblical citations are from New Revised Standard
 According to Most Rev Peter K. Sarpong, “At a point in time, the founder / director fell out with the Bishop and there was a long period where he ceased to be in charge. It was not until 1970 that the grotto operated again, even if not with the efficiency of the founder. It was nearly obliterated from the history of the church but through the help of Our Lady, people loyal to Fr. Tawiah constituted themselves into a force to run the place and priests from time to time visited the place and said Mass for those who went there”.
 The good done by someone, e.g. the kindness and goodwill of God; but also success and salvation, c.f. Ps 106:5.
 In the Greek it can be used of persons and things. Of persons, their moral character; of God, perfect and complete. Of things: materially valuable, fertile, sound, beneficial and wholesome. e.g. goods, possessions and treasures, c.f. Lk 12:18.
 Luke has three (3) other canticles besides the Magnificat. The Benedictus 1:67-79; the Gloria in Excelsis 2:13-14; and the Nunc Dimittis 2:28-32.
 C.f. “O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together” Ps 34:3 and 69:30 “I will praise the name of God with song, and shall magnify Him with thanksgiving”.
 The New American Standard Bible translates it “But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem”. Acts 5:13.
 “For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God”.
 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 1Cor 15:3-4.
 R. Brown 360.
 WBC 67.
 It has been suggested as a prophetic aorist: Mary predicting what will come about through the child to be born. See R. Brown, 362-363.
 See also Wis chapters 16-19.
A karat is 1/24 part of pure gold by weight, so 24-karat gold is pure gold. Source: Wikipedia.
 Probably for me than any other person this year is a very special moment. Personally, this is my twentieth year after first stepping foot here. I had heard of Buoho, Fr Theresa Paul, (now of blessed memory) yet I had not visited this place. Inviting me here to give this theme talk was revelation that came Fr Augustine C. Owusu. It was not flesh and blood that revealed it to him but My Father in heaven.