At this point, it is pertinent to recall that the first group of invocations in the Litany of Loreto calls the Blessed Virgin Mary “Mother…” Then comes a series of invocations referring to her as “Virgin…” The third collection of invocations consists of titles enshrined in figurative expressions, such as “Tower of David,” “Seat of wisdom,” “Mystical rose,” etc. The last collection of titles will invoke our Lady as “Queen…” Today, being the twenty-first day of our May Devotion to Our Lady, we shall commence our reflections on the “figurative titles,” beginning with “Mirror of Justice” (Latin, Speculum Iustitiae).
These “figurative invocations” are not just the result of some poetic inspiration. Usually, they have their roots traceable to the Scriptures. The phrase, “Mirror of justice”, or in another translation, “Mirror of Perfection”, is inspired by the book of Wisdom: “Wisdom is a reflection of eternal light, a clear mirror of God’s activity and an image of his goodness” (Wis. 7: 26). It is also an allusion to that phrase from St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians: “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.” (1 Cor 13:12). Thus, when we invoke Our Lady as the “Mirror of Justice,” what do we intend to communicate?
First, “Justice is here taken in its ordinary and proper sense to signify the most important of the cardinal virtues. It is a moral quality or habit, which perfects the will and inclines it to render to each and to all what belongs to them” (Catholic Encyclopaedia – online). Justice which is also known as righteousness or uprightness, is a Cardinal Virtue, among prudence, fortitude and temperance. Of the other cardinal virtues, (the Catholic Encyclopaedia continues), “prudence perfects the intellect and inclines the prudent man to act in all things according to right reason. Fortitude controls the irascible passions; and temperance moderates the appetites accordingly as reason dictates;” leading one to act justly. While fortitude and temperance are self-regarding virtues, justice has reference to others. Together with charity, justice regulates man’s relationship with his fellow men. However, charity leads us to help our neighbour in his need out of our own stores, while justice teaches us to give to another what belongs to him.
For the Jews, a man is said to be just/righteous when he observes the Law accordingly. In the Blessed Virgin Mary, we see the just/righteous woman who lived out the Law through her prompt “YES” to the Will of God. Through the salutation of the angel (‘hail, full of grace’ – Lk. 1:28) and her “fiat,” Mary could be contemplated as the perfect reflection/mirror of God’s justice/righteousness and holiness. Little wonder Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, greeted her, “Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” From the righteous Virgin Mary, Elizabeth was able to also contemplate the righteous “Fruit of her womb.”
Therefore, by invoking our Lady as “Mirror of justice,” we contemplate Jesus in Mary’s face as if through a mirror. Whoever sees the mother sees the Son. She is a mirror that reflects “the just,” “the perfect,” and the “holy” Saviour, by virtue of being his Mother; for a bad tree cannot produce a good fruit. Hence, in contemplating the just and holy Saviour, the just and holy Virgin Mary can serve as a mirror. The same way Jesus, being the Son of God mirrors his eternal Father: “To have seen me is to have seen the Father,” “He is the image of the invisible God” (Jn. 14:9; Col. 1:15). Besides, being the only biological parent of Jesus, we cannot deny the striking resemblance that must exist between Mary and Jesus, such that the Son (justice/holiness incarnate) could literarily be seen through the face of his mother.
Biblically speaking, only God is the source of justice. His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (equal and of the same essence with the Father) came to the world to reveal this justice to men. The coming of Jesus gave human beings the possibility of genuine justice in order to be satisfied or filled. As such, Jesus proclaimed, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall have their fill” (cf. Mt. 5:6). Jesus also revealed the new justice that comes directly from God and radically changes the truth of each being in his interiority and in his relations with God and his neighbour: “For I tell you, if your uprightness does not surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of Heaven” (Mat. 5:20). Here, Christ offers us a new way of life, a new justice that surpasses the mere observance of the letters of the Law. Mary chose the new justice by being a faithful disciple of Christ up to the cross and even beyond; therefore, it would not be out of place to refer to her as “Mirror of Justice”. In this ‘Mirror,’ God was able to contemplate himself and see his own face. A mirror neither distorted nor hid the features of the divine face reflected in it.
When we invoke her as “Mirror of Justice,” we see a prefiguration of what each of us must become throughout our lives – growing in grace, holiness and justice, before God and men. Through our Lady, we remember that we are called to holiness. Each day is one more step. Our life is a permanent struggle to recover our “original justice” (the state of man at the beginning in the garden of Eden) so that one day we will be able to say with Paul: “It is no longer I who live, it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). Hence, we will be like Mary, the “Mirror of Justice” in whom Christ was pleased to dwell.
Let us pray:
Oh “Mirror of Justice,” may we come to mirror out God’s justice before men by contemplating you, the perfect example of one who mirrored God’s holiness and justice, so that through us, God’s Kingdom of righteousness may be established on earth. Amen
Oh Mirror of Justice (Speculum Iustitiae), pray for us that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
PS: Have you prayed your Rosary today?