January 1, 2023

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Happy Feast Day, Happy New Year, and Merry Christmas!  What a joyful time for the Family of God.

Christmas began just over a week ago, but the celebration is far from over.   The proof is in today’s feast!  Within the joyful time of remembering the birth of God’s Son we celebrate and give due honor to Mary, as Mother of God.  Sit with that a moment…let it soak in…steep yourself in that thought, like a good cup of tea.  Mother of God!  What does that mean?  We say it with ease, and it rolls off the tongue at least 53 times during the course of one rosary, but what does it really mean?

Mother of God. It is through a mother that a child comes into the world.   So, it is through Mary that God came into the world.  God, the creator of every good thing, sent His Incarnate Word to enter time through Mary, one of His creation.  Sit…soak…steep.

Indulge me for a moment.  You can take the middle school teacher out of the classroom, but perhaps never the middle schooler out of the teacher.  When I “sit…soak…steep…” it sometimes comes from cartoons.  This is because, if the cartoon is good, truth and beauty will be conveyed, and in a joyful way to boot!  There is a remarkable line in the movie Aladdin.  Genie has just been summoned and proceeds to spell out the logistics of his arrangement.  He inflates himself to a gargantuan size, drops his voice to depths which shake the very earth to its core, juggles the planets and galaxies, all while he proclaims, “Phenomenal cosmic power…”  Suddenly, blink and you will miss it, all that massive power and might shrinks from sight and Genie is squashed inside the lamp.  Aladdin, holding the lamp in his hands, peers into the opening only to hear Genie squeak out the words, “itty, bitty living space.”

God, the Almighty, the Creator, the point from which every good thing comes, allowed Himself to be contained in the womb of a young woman.  He entered time and took on human nature, making Himself so small, so hidden, so vulnerable in the womb of a mother.  Sit…soak…steep.

Why?  Why would God do such a thing?  God is Perfect.  He lacks nothing.  He needs nothing, not even us.  He does not need us, but He wants us.  Even the youngest child knows well this desire…to be wanted.  You see it in the eyes of that little one with arms outstretched, his whole self raised on tiptoes reaching to be lifted into Daddy’s arms.  Oh, to be wanted!  What a wonderful thing.  And when we are unwanted or wanted for the wrong reasons, the pain is equally acute.

So begs the next question.  If God does not need us, why does He want us?  Thankfully that answer is simple: He loves!  This answer pulls double duty as it satisfies the previous question, too.  Why would God do such a thing?  He loves!  Only, His love is not a thing floating out there to be grasped at and caught if we happen to be lucky enough, strong enough, smart enough to reach it.  God’s love is directed.  Where? To YOU!  Yes, you, the singular person holding this bulletin reading these words in the year 2023.  From all time, God knows you, LOVES you, and wants you to be with Him for all eternity.  His love for you is so real that He sent His only Son to enter time, become like you in all things but sin, suffer death for you, and rise from the dead so that YOU might have the chance to be in friendship with Him here, now, and in the life to come.

Wow! Happy New Year!

All of this is possible because a young woman, over 2,000 years ago received a message from God and she said yes.  Mary freely surrendering to the will of God for her life changed everything.  Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, in his work Life of Christ, talks about the coming of Christ and powerfully states, “… once He appeared, He struck history with such impact that He split it in two, dividing it into two periods: one before His coming, the other after it.”  Christ did that, with the help of His mother!  Aren’t moms wonderful!

If that were not enough, Jesus, 33 years later, on the cross, gave His mother to us.  John the Evangelist records it as the first thing Jesus said after being nailed to the cross, “… ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (John 19: 26-27)  Merry Christmas!  What better gift could anyone ask for?  The Mother of God is given to you, by her Son, to be your mother!

God loves!  His love for us sent His Incarnate Word into the world through the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Love awaits a response.  Say, “I love you,” to someone and an answer is highly anticipated…hopefully it is, “I love you, too!”  What is your “I love you, too,”  to God’s gift of Mary as your Mother?  I boldly suggest the following: love her, defend her, go to her, embrace her as your mother.  Why?  She will bring you to her Son.

Today, this week, this Christmas season, take some time to sit…soak…and steep in the thought of Mary, Mother of God.

 Holy, Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen!