St John's Q&A

Friday, December 30, 2005

Mary, Mother of God

Many of us are getting ready for a big celebration this Saturday night and Sunday. January 1 is always a time of excitement, parties, joy, and hope. The Church herself honors this glorious day with a Solemnity, which is the greatest type of feast in the Roman calendar. The world celebrates Jan. 1 as New Year's Day, and it is a fitting time to celebrate the arrival of a new calendar year. But, the Church celebrates Jan. 1 for a different reason:the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.

As an FYI, the Church's new year starts in Advent. The first Sunday of Advent is the Church's New Year's Day. So, liturgically, 2006 began on the first Sunday of Advent. The (3 year) cycle of readings from the Lectionary changed A to B (next year it will change from B to C). Just a little liurgical FYI for ya!

The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God is placed on Jan 1 more for its relationship with Christmas than to the secular celebration of New Year's. It is placed on Jan 1 in the Roman calendar because it is seven days (one full week) after the Birth of Christ. The Church celebrates many aspects surrounding the Birth of our Savior in this holy season - Holy Family, Holy Innocents, Epiphany, etc. It is still within the Octave of Christmas (the 8 day celebration of Christmas), and highlights Mary's role in the First Coming of the Messiah.

The official title of Mary, Mother of God, is Greek: Theotokos. There can be no debate about her title as Mother of Jesus. But, this title of Theotokos has sparked debates with our brothers and sisters of other faiths. The Church proudly affirms this and many other titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary because of her extraordinarily significant role in bringing Salvation to the world.

Mary is referenced throughout Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly. Her role in God's Plan as the Mother of the Savior brings praise from the angel Gabriel ("Hail, full of grace") and her cousin, Elizabeth ("blessed are you among women"), but also vicious attacks from Satan (Book of Revelation). The title of Mother of God does not give her divine status; she is still and always will be recognized by the Church as a human being.

If we stop and think about it on basic terms for a minute, it's obvious- Mary is the Mother of Jesus who is the Son of God. He is God himself, the second person of the Trinity. Ergo (one of my favorite words), Mary is the Mother of God. Now, that's pretty easy math. That's basically the formula the Church has used to name Mary as Theotokos. But, so much of who she is goes into title - she was preserved from any traces of original sin from the moment of her conception, she always said yes to God, she lived the Commandments and Beatitudes perfectly, etc. She is "full of grace" - the Father created her to be the Mother of His Son and gave her extraordinary grace for her to live every moment of her life in this role.

She is the mother of God! She lived a life like you and me, and had all the joys and pains of day to day life in the world. For nine months, she carried God in her womb! Then, she nurtured and raised him as a little boy. She watched him "grow in wisdom and knowledge" and then accomplish his mission of Salvation that ended in a bitter and painful death on the Cross. This is all the fruit of her womb. As Elizabeth said to her, "blessed is the fruit of your womb".

So, do I really know Mary? Is she a part of my life? Christ came to me through her; she is blessed indeed, as Scripture repeatedly says. She is the perfect instrument through whom He entered the world. She is His Mother!! He gave her to me at the foot of the Cross (in the person of the Apostle, John). She will always lead me to Christ - "do whatever He tells you". In this new year of 2006, may I go to Jesus through Mary, and realize her incredible intercessory power as the Mother of God. May I imitate her in always saying 'yes' to God.

Mary, Mother of God: pray for us!

Happy New Year and Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.


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