Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

The title of today’s celebration is an expression we use very often, daily perhaps, but if we step back from it we can see that it is rather shocking. The title of the feast is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. We use that title of Mary every time we say the Hail Mary: Holy Mary Mother of God Pray for us sinners. We certainly do not believe that Mary was a goddess. So, the understanding of today’s feast flows from and understanding of whom Jesus is. We firmly believe that Jesus Christ is one person, with two natures, human and divine. There is only one Jesus, but he is both God and Man and Mary is the Mother of the Eternal One who has taken a human nature through her, so she is therefore, the mother of God.

That’s the theological side of today’s feast, but there is also a spiritual side, a side much more…useful. Mary is the model of a person of faith. And she is the best of us, I mean, she is the one with the most profound relationship with God. Yet, the gospels continually note that Mary steps aside from the astounding events surrounding the birth of Jesus and, for that matter, His entire life. Mary ponders things in her heart, the scripture says.

Why does the Gospel of Luke mention this “pondering in her heart” over and over again? Perhaps, because the Gospel of Luke wants to emphasize that Mary is not just a simple and ignorant spectator to the event of salvation. She is quite aware that God is working His miracle of redemption for His people. She is also aware that her role in God’s plan is being sure the focus is on the divine initiative, not on her. She allowed God to work without obscuring His actions with her own interventions. This is the very essence of the spiritual life: to allow God’s work to be seen, and His Presence to be experienced in us and through us without deflecting the attention to us.

The great American spiritual writer, Thomas Merton, put it this way: «Mary is in the highest sense a person because she does not obscure God’s light in her being. When we celebrate the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God, we celebrate Mary being a person in the highest sense. She is the one who allowed the spiritual to become physical without allowing herself to diminish His work, His very being, with her own physical limitations»[1].

We are all so unlike Mary. We want others to be well aware of our participation in the spiritual. We want others to be well aware of our holiness so they might be thoroughly impressed with us. We forget that if we allow the attention to focus on us we are obscuring the Presence of God trying to work through us. Mary, the Mother of God, must be our model for the Christian life. If we really want to be people of God we have got to be sure that the focus of all we do as Christians is on God, not on ourselves. If and when we do this than the spiritual is able to become physical and our faith is able to become real.

Certainly Mary is not a goddess. Her faith life has shown us all how to bring God to earth and how to allow others to experience the spiritual become physical, the Word Become Flesh. She is the Mother of God.

Today, with this celebration, the beginning of the civil year, we ask her to help us to have the faith, humility and courage to allow God to become real in our lives, in our families and in our world. May, Mary, Mother of God, teach us how to bring Jesus to a world that longs for Him ■

[1] Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was a 20th century Anglo-American Catholic writer. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemane, Kentucky, he was a poet, social activist and student of comparative religion. In 1949, he was ordained to the priesthood and given the name Father Louis. Merton wrote more than 70 books, mostly on spirituality, social justice and a quiet pacifism, as well as scores of essays and reviews, including his best-selling autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain (1948), which sent scores of disillusioned World War II veterans, students, and even teen-agers flocking to monasteries across US, and was also featured in National Review's list of the 100 best non-fiction books of the century. Merton was a keen proponent of interfaith understanding. He pioneered dialogue with prominent Asian spiritual figures, including the Dalai Lama, D.T. Suzuki, the Japanese writer on the Zen tradition, and the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Merton has also been the subject of several biographies.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris