Saturday, January 02, 2010

Mary, the Mother of God

Yesterday we celebrated the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. We celebrated by having rosemary chicken for dinner, followed by a blueberry crumble (as we put on the topping, Caroline said, "The blueberries are blue for Mary, and it is called a crumble because Mary crumbled at the foot of the cross when Jesus died!" Deep thoughts from a four year old!). Our deacon gave a great homily at Mass explaining why we refer to Mary as the Mother of God. Sometimes this title is questioned - Mother of Jesus is okay, but Mother of God? The problem people seem to have with this is that they think it must mean Mary is higher than God, or preceded Him; however, it is just a title which shows the mystery of the Holy Trinity... if Mary is the Mother of Jesus, and Jesus is God, then logically, she can also be called the Mother of God. The Trinity is such a complex concept for us to grasp, but I thought the homily below was helpful in understanding this a little better.

Many thanks to our deacon for writing and sharing this homily!

"Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. And we give thanks to God this day for Mary under this particular title, one which had been in great dispute in the early Church. After much prayer, discussion, and argument, the Church finally, in 431 A.D. at the Council of Ephesus, gave its approval for the faithful to refer to Mary as Theotokos --- in Greek, the “God-bearer”.

And this title teaches us a couple of things, one about Mary --- that she indeed conceived, bore, and gave birth to Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, and one about Jesus --- that he indeed was God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Put simply, Mary was the mother of Jesus, and Jesus is God. Therefore it’s appropriate to refer to Mary as “Mother of God”. And while on the surface that seems logical, think about what is really being said by that statement. In calling Mary the “God-bearer” the Church was strongly reaffirming Jesus as the God-man, fully human and fully divine. Not half and half --- we have to get that idea out of our heads --- but true God and true man, as we profess each week in the Creed.

Trying to get our minds around that can be difficult, which is why many of us take the easy way out and simply focus on and stress one or the other --- either Jesus is God, or Jesus is one of us. In other words, we do the very same thing we do with each other, think of God in just one way, according to just one of his natures. And we may not even realize we’re doing it. So today may be the perfect day to truly think about it, to truly examine how we see and how we relate to Jesus.

Some of us have an easy time affirming Jesus as God, but not so much his humanity. For us, Jesus is the one who knows all and understands all. He sees the big picture, knows his mission, and carries it out bravely. He can heal any ill, mediate any dispute, solve any problem. He goes through this life with a certain confidence, a peace that only God can give. Through this Jesus, all things were made. And he truly is Lord of our life.

For others of us, we have an easier time accepting Jesus’ humanity. This is the Jesus who comes to us as a helpless child, the one who grows in wisdom and age. He shows the full range of human emotions --- even sadness and anger. This is a very trusting Jesus, not because he knows everything, but because he concretely experiences the love of the Father. He struggles to fully know and understand his mission, even desiring that the cup pass him by. This Jesus is our companion and friend.

I wonder if Mary struggled with this very thing. Think for a moment. Even though the conception of her son was miraculous, he was still her boy. She nursed him, protected him, taught him, disciplined him --- all the same things any mother would do for her child. And I imagine that during his early years, Jesus was probably much like any other boy. But then at some point things must have begun to change --- his advanced wisdom, his moral foundation, the authority with which he spoke --- and no longer could Mary simply accept him as her child. He was also God’s Son, as the angel had said, and therefore she couldn’t only be his mom. And as she stood at the foot of the cross, her steadfast faith allowed her to gaze upon both her God and her boy --- not one or the other, but both.

This is our challenge today, to truly embrace Jesus as both God and man. If we emphasize only one or the other, we will almost certainly have only a partial understanding of this person in whom we put our trust and our very lives. And even though a complete picture of Jesus is beyond our grasp, there is great value and benefit in striving for a deeper understanding of the Lord --- an understanding which will bring great peace, meaning, and hope.

And so today we look to Mary and ask for her prayers. As the one who had to, in a certain sense, wrestle with this truth first, Mary knows and understands how difficult it can be to gaze upon Jesus under the brightest light and embrace him in the fullest sense. Jesus is always much more than we can ever imagine. And without question, we can be absolutely sure that the Blessed Virgin Mary hears every one of our prayers and offers her own on our behalf. After all, she is our mother too.

Thank you Mary, for once again helping us to be humble, faithful followers of your Son. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us."

1 comment:

ViolinMama said...

Caroline's wisdom was astounding! Loved it! Love the homily too!

Many blessings and much love!