Sunday, January 01, 2012

Homily Mary Mother of God Year B

mother of God Below is my typing out, on the fly, of the main ideas I preached about using an outline of notes – I was too distracted by the UK – U of L game and New Years Eve to write out a full-blown text beforehand!

Happy New Year – my blessing to you for the new year is the text of the First Reading: “The Lord bless you and keep you!  The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!  The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!”

This Solemnity calls forth our finest as we honor and venerate the Holy Mother of God – hence the cassock, nice alb, and First Mass chasuble.

It is because of this Solemnity that Mary has all of the other titles and graces given to her: Her Assumption, Immaculate Conception, Immaculate Heart, and Most Holy Name; her own Nativity; her appearances at Fatima, Guadalupe, Lourdes, and Mt. Carmel; her Sorrows, her Rosary, her Presentation, and Queenship; and her Visitation of her cousin Elizabeth all depend on her being the Mother of God.

Today’s mystery is one of the many great mysteries we having been, and will continue to, move in and out of.  St. Thomas called this exitus et reditus, exit and return, going out and returning in.  God is always doing this: giving his love, and receiving it from us; giving life and receiving it; giving His Son, and receiving Him who brings us with Him.  By the Holy Spirit who moved over the waters of our Baptism, we have, in a sense, been breathing these great Mysteries.  They are our life, our livelihood.  Like lungs filling up and emptying out, we have been focused IN on Jesus at Christmas; then we stepped OUT to celebrate the whole Holy Family; then we stepped IN to celebrate Mary and the shepherds today; OUT next week to celebrate the Magi from afar at the Epiphany;  and we will step back IN on March 19 to celebrate St. Joseph.  These are what we’re all about.

Paul’s verse, “God sent his Son, born of a woman,” encapsulates the whole day.  The Eternal Son of the Father, the Eternal Word, the Second Person of the Trinity, was not made like a carpenter builds a house.  He is eternally-begotten, eternally generated by the Father, he has no beginning or end.  But, when he assumed human flesh, taking the body and blood of his mother Mary at his conception, he truly became man.  From that point he is forever fully God and fully man.  Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  He is the son of a woman.  He is OF God and OF Mary.  The mother of Jesus is the Mother of God.  This great gift of divine Motherhood is not a gift for her alone but for us all.

Pope Benedict XVI, preaching on this feast in 2008, explained that when the Gospel says Mary “reflected on these things in her heart” – what the shepherds told her, about all Glory being due to him, that He is Savior, Christ, and Lord – the Greek behind the phrase literally means a “piecing together.”  As she raised him and watched him grow, she pieced together these great mysteries and they expanded more and more in her life.  When we turn to her and remain close to her, she pieces these together for us too, helping us to see how she is our Mother too, that Christ is our brother, and that God is our Father.

By the Holy Spirit of our Baptism we enjoy adoption as sons of the Father, sharing in the Sonship of Christ, so that we can proclaim “Abba!” - “Father!” – an intimate, personal way of addressing God.  Mary helps us to see ourselves in such an intimate relationship.  Although He is near to us… perhaps He is too tall!  Mary picks us up, as little children, and helps us to reach our Father, putting us in His arms, lifting us close to His face… like any mother would help a child reach his father.

True, Christ is our sole mediator with God.  Mary participates in this mediatorship.  She is our shortcut to the Father.  She shortens the journey to Him.  St. Bernard: “She consoles us in our distress, enlivens our faith, strengthens our hope, gets rid of our fears, and invigorates our timidity.”  She also teaches us like a mother should – parents being the primary formators in the faith of children.  She teaches us how to say Yes to God’s will, how to receive Christ deeply in our very being, how to generously give him to the world.

She also helps us with our images of the Father.  Often our images of God come from the experiences of our natural fathers.  If our natural father was harsh, she helps us to know God’s mercy.  If our natural father was absent, she helps us to know His presence.  If our natural father was distant, she brings us close to Him.  When our natural fathers do well, she helps us to see how this points to our heavenly Father.  When our natural fathers are merciful, present, and close to us she helps us to attribute these values to God.

In this new year, our Blessed Mother, the Mother of God, is challenging us to say Yes to Him.  Perhaps after the homily, Communion, or Mass today you could spend some quiet time considering how it is that Mary is truly your Mother; what kind of son or daughter you have been to her; how you can allow her to be your mother; and you to be her son or daughter.  This could be a new year of a renewed relationship with Mary, your Mother.  Perhaps you could pick up a Marian devotion that has fallen away, like the rosary.  Any time we honor, venerate, or pray to Mary, she always redirects these to her Son, she never keeps them for herself.  Know that as you grow in your relationship with the Mother of God, you can be assured of growing close to her Divine Son.

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