The Blessed Virgin Mary, Holy Mother of God

Today’s readings

Today, on the octave day of Christmas, which we still celebrate as Christmas Day, we are blessed to remember the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Mother of God. We do this because we all know that Mary’s faith made possible our own lives of faith and even more wonderfully made possible the salvation of the whole world and everyone ever to live in it. She was the one, chosen by God, to see the Gospel come to life before her very eyes. She intimately beheld the Word, she held our God in her faithful and loving hands, treasuring each moment in her heart.

So Mary’s faith is a model for us, an ideal for which we disciples must strive to follow. God’s call will often take us into unknown territory, as it did for our Blessed Mother, but in faith we are called to say “yes” to his plan for us anyway. God’s call will often call for sacrifice and even sorrow in the short term, as it did for our Blessed Mother, but we are still asked to give all that we have. Mary did that without a second thought or a moment’s regret. How willing are we? Can we take a leap of faith, make a fiat, and cooperate with God’s work in our lives and in the world? We have no way of knowing where that might lead us; just like Mary, that might lead to heartache and sorrow; but just like Mary, it may lead to redemption beyond belief, beyond anything we can imagine.

Today the Church proclaims courageously that Mary is the Mother of God. And let me tell you, this was a doctrine that came at great price. People fought over whether a human woman could ever be the mother of God. How would that even be possible? But the alternative, really, would be to insinuate that Jesus was not God. We know that Jesus had two natures: human and divine. Neither nature was subordinate to the other there was no separation or division or elevation of one nature at the expense of the other; they were both wrapped up intimately with one another, incapable of being divided. So, because we clearly know that Mary was his mother, we say that Mary is the Mother of God. And so, as theologians teach us, Mary is the Mother of God the Word according to his human nature. She didn’t give birth to his divine nature; that was begotten by God. She is not the mother of the First or Third Persons of God; she is the mother of the Second Person, God the Word. Sister Sarah made us memorize all this in seminary, and every once in a while, when I’m feeling particularly theologically courageous, I reflect on this doctrine and marvel at its beauty.

So, Mary is the Mother of God, but Mary is also the Mother of the Church, leading its members to her son Jesus and to faith in God. She is mother of priests, caring for us in a special way and interceding for the faithful work of our calling. She is the mother of mothers, interceding for them and showing them how to nurture faith in their children. She is the mother of the faithful, showing us how to cooperate fully with God’s plan. She is mother of Scripture scholars and those who just love the Scriptures, having seen the Word unfold before her and treasuring it in her heart. She is the mother of disciples, having been the first of the disciples and the most dedicated of them all. And in this Holy Year of Mercy, I would like to point out that she is also the Mother of Mercy, who gave birth to our Savior and birth to our eternity. She is the Mother of God, and our mother, and we cannot sing our Christmas carols without singing her praises too. We honor her faith and example today, and we ask for her intercession for our lives, for our families, for our Church and for our world.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Mother of God

Today’s readings

Today, on the octave day of Christmas, which we still celebrate as Christmas Day, we are blessed to remember the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Mother of God. We do this because we all know that Mary’s faith made possible our own lives of faith and even more wonderfully made possible the salvation of the whole world and everyone ever to live in it.  She was the one, chosen by God, to see the Gospel come to life before her very eyes.  She intimately beheld the Word, she held our God in her faithful and loving hands, treasuring each moment in her heart.

So Mary’s faith is a model for us, an ideal for which we disciples must strive to follow.  God’s call will often take us into unknown territory, as it did for our Blessed Mother, but in faith we are called to say “yes” to his plan for us anyway.  God’s call will often call for sacrifice and even sorrow in the short term, as it did for our Blessed Mother, but we are still asked to give all that we have. Mary did that without a second thought or a moment’s regret. How willing are we?  Can we take a leap of faith, make a fiat, and cooperate with God’s work in our lives and in the world?  We have no way of knowing where that might lead us; just like Mary, that might lead to heartache and sorrow; but just like Mary, it may lead to redemption beyond belief, beyond anything we can imagine.

Today the Church proclaims courageously that Mary is the Mother of God.  And let me tell you, this was a doctrine that came at great price.  People fought over whether a human woman could ever be the mother of God.  How would that even be possible?  But the alternative, really, would be to insinuate that Jesus was not God. We know that Jesus had two natures: human and divine. Neither nature was subordinate to the other there was no separation or division or elevation of one nature at the expense of the other; they were both wrapped up intimately with one another, incapable of being divided. So, because we clearly know that Mary was his mother, we say that Mary is the Mother of God.  And so, as theologians teach us, Mary is the Mother of God the Word according to his human nature.  She didn’t give birth to his divine nature; that was begotten by God.  She is not the mother of the First or Third Persons of God; she is the mother of the Second Person, God the Word.  Sister Sarah made us memorize all this in seminary, and every once in a while, when I’m feeling particularly theologically courageous, I reflect on this doctrine and marvel at its beauty.

So, Mary is the Mother of God, but Mary is also the Mother of the Church, leading its members to her son Jesus and to faith in God.  She is mother of priests, caring for us in a special way and interceding for the faithful work of our calling.  She is the mother of mothers, interceding for them and showing them how to nurture faith in their children.  She is the mother of the faithful, showing us how to cooperate fully with God’s plan.  She is mother of Scripture scholars and those who just love the Scriptures, having seen the Word unfold before her and treasuring it in her heart.  She is the mother of disciples, having been the first of the disciples and the most dedicated of them all.  She is the Mother of God, and our mother, and we cannot sing our Christmas carols without singing her praises too.  We honor her faith and example today, and we ask for her intercession for our lives, for our families, for our Church and for our world.

Pray for us, o holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

The Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

The Church gives us this wonderful feast of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, on this, the octave day of Christmas.  In a very real way, the Church still celebrates this day as Christmas day – that’s one of the wonderful things about being Catholic.  We don’t have to cast off Christmas with the wrapping paper; we don’t toss the trees out on the curb on December the 26th; we get to celebrate for many days.  But to celebrate the eighth day of Christmas as the feast of Mary, the Holy Mother of God is a wonderful and appropriate thing to do.  We all know that Mary’s faith made possible our own lives of faith and even more wonderfully made possible the salvation of the whole world and everyone ever to live in it.  She was the one, chosen by God, to see the Gospel come to life before her very eyes.  She held our God in her faithful and loving hands, treasuring each moment in her heart.

So Mary’s faith is a model for us.  We often do not know where God is leading us, but in faith we are called to say “yes” to his plan for us anyway.  How willing are we to do that?  We are often called upon to take a leap of faith, make a fiat, and cooperate with God’s work in our lives and in the world.  Just like Mary, we have no way of knowing where that might lead us; just like Mary, that might lead to heartache and sorrow; but just like Mary, it may lead to redemption beyond belief, beyond anything we can imagine.

And so, yes, Mary is the Mother of God.  And let me tell you, this was a doctrine that came at great price.  People fought over whether a human woman could ever be the mother of God.  How would that even be possible?  But the alternative, really, would be to insinuate that Jesus was not God, because we clearly know that Mary was his mother.  So to say that Mary was not the Mother of God is to say in a very real and theologically dangerous way that Jesus was not God, and we know that’s just wrong.  Jesus was fully human but also fully divine, his human and divine natures intertwined in his person without any separation or division or elevation of one nature at the expense of another.  And so, as theologians teach us, Mary is the Mother of God the Word according to his human nature.  She didn’t give birth to his divine nature; that was begotten by God.  She is not the mother of the First or Third Persons of God; she is the mother of the Second Person, God the Word.  Sister Sarah made us memorize all this in seminary, and every once in a while, when I’m feeling particularly theologically courageous, I reflect on this doctrine and marvel at its beauty.

So, Mary is the Mother of God, but Mary is also the Mother of the Church, leading its members to her son Jesus and to faith in God.  She is mother of priests, caring for us in a special way and interceding for the faithful work of our calling.  She is the mother of mothers, interceding for them and showing them how to nurture faith in their children.  She is the mother of the faithful, showing us how to cooperate fully with God’s plan.  She is mother of Scripture scholars and those who just love the Scriptures, having seen the Word unfold before her and treasuring it in her heart.  She is the mother of disciples, having been the first of the disciples and the most dedicated of them all.  She is the Mother of God, and our mother, and we cannot sing our Christmas carols without singing her praises too.  We honor her faith and example today, and we ask for her intercession for our lives, for our families, for our Church and our world.

Pray for us, o holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Mother of God

Today’s readings

One of the ways that I think we come to know about ourselves and our families, is the shared memories and stories that our parents and senior members of our families share with us over time.  I always enjoyed hearing stories from my grandparents about Mom and Dad, and my aunts and uncles, when they were growing up.  Now, we get to hear stories about me and my sisters.  Those are sometimes a little harder to enjoy!

I wonder if Jesus felt the same way about the stories about him that Mary must have told.  Luke tells us of all the amazing things that were observed and said about Jesus, even in his infancy, and all these things are what Mary kept and reflected on in her heart.  I think it’s fair to say that she may not have understood all of them at the time, or at least she didn’t know where they were leading, although she certainly knew that her son was someone very special, the Son of God.  And so she keeps all these things and reflects on them in her heart.  She is the first, really, to receive the Gospel – observing it, as it were, while it was happening and unfolding.  And so she is the model for all of us hearers of the Word; we too catch little phrases or episodes that we later reflect on in our hearts.  When we first hear them, it might well be that we don’t understand them.  But we know that we can later reflect on them in our hearts, and the Holy Spirit will reveal their meaning.

The Church gives us this wonderful feast of Mary on this, the octave day of Christmas.  In a very real way, the Church still celebrates this day as Christmas Day – that’s one of the wonderful things about being Catholic.  We get to celebrate this glorious event for many days.  But to celebrate the eighth day of Christmas as the feast of Mary, the Holy Mother of God is a wonderful and appropriate thing to do.  We all know that we are indebted to Mary’s faith, a faith which made possible the salvation of the whole world and everyone ever to live in it.

More than that, Mary’s faith is a model for us.  Much like Mary, we often do not know where God is leading us, but in faith we are called to say “yes” anyway.  How willing are we to do that?  We are often called upon to take a leap of faith, make a fiat, and cooperate with God’s saving plan for us and for others.  Just like Mary, we have no way of knowing where that might lead us; just like Mary, that might lead to heartache and sorrow; but just like Mary, it will lead to redemption beyond belief, beyond anything we can imagine.

And so, yes, Mary is the Mother of God.  And let me tell you, this was a doctrine that came without its price.  People fought over whether a human woman could ever be the mother of God.  How would that be possible?  But the alternative, really, would be to say that Jesus was not God, because we clearly know that Mary was his mother.  So to say that Mary was not the Mother of God is to say in a very precarious way that Jesus was not God, and we know just as surely that that would be incorrect.  Jesus was fully human but also fully divine, his human and divine natures intertwined in his person without any separation or division or degradation of one nature at the expense of another.  And so, as theologians teach us, Mary is the Mother of God the Word according to his human nature.  Every once in a while, when I’m feeling particularly theologically courageous, I reflect on that statement and marvel at its beauty.

So, Mary is the Mother of God, but Mary is also the Mother of the Church, leading its members to her Son Jesus and to faith in God.  She is mother of priests, caring for us in a special way and interceding for the faithful completion of our mission.  She is the mother of mothers, interceding for them and showing them how to nurture faith in their children.  She is the mother of the faithful, showing us how to cooperate fully with God’s plan.  She is mother of scripture scholars and those who just love the scriptures, having seen the Word unfold before her and treasuring it in her heart.  She is the mother of disciples, having been the first of the disciples and the most dedicated of them all.  She is the Mother of God, and our mother, and we cannot sing our Christmas carols without singing her praises too.  We honor her faith and example today, and we ask for her intercession for our lives, for our families, for our Church and our world.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Mary, the Mother of God

Today’s readings

Today, on the Octave day of Christmas, we have an opportunity on this Christmas Day to pause and celebrate Mary, the mother of God. This solemnity is a special one for us as Catholics because people for a long time argued over whether Mary, a human being, could possibly be the mother of God. Eventually, the Holy Spirit led the Church to realize that downplaying Mary’s role in all of this really downplays Jesus’ divinity, so denying that Mary was the Mother of God was a substantial part of the heresy of Nestorianism. To say that Mary is not the Mother of God is, in some way, to say that Jesus is not God, and that of course, is not what we believe. So, for centuries the Church has taught that “Mary is the Mother of God the Word according to his human nature.”

Sister Sarah made me memorize that line in my second year of seminary, and I’ll never forget it. Basically, there are two parts. Mary is the Mother of God the Word: Mary, chosen from all eternity to be a virgin inviolate and a fit Mother for God, is blessed by conceiving the only Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. Calling Jesus “God the Word” in this definition takes us to the opening verses of the Gospel of John which tells us that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” The Word is traditionally believed to be the second person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

The second part of the definition asserts that Mary is his mother according to his human nature. We know that Jesus was both human and divine, and both natures coexisted in Jesus Christ without any diminishment of either nature at the expense of the other. We also know that only God himself could beget God the Word, but it would have to take a human woman, a very special human woman, to be the mother of his human nature. Jesus is consubstantial, of the same substance, with the Father, as we pray in the Creed, but in a very real sense, he is also consubstantial with us through Mary, in his human nature.

St. Paul tells us today that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons and daughters.” Today we rejoice in Mary’s faith that God’s promises to the human race would be fulfilled through her. It is because of her faithfulness that God was born into our world in the person of Jesus Christ and became one of us, walking our walk, living our life, dying our death, and leading us to new life that lasts forever. If not for Mary’s fiat – her “yes” to God’s will for her – salvation history might have gone rather poorly. Thankfully, because of her great faith, we have adoption as sons and daughters of God.

Did Mary understand all of this when she said yes to God’s will when Gabriel came to announce the birth of Christ in her? I don’t know; maybe, maybe not. But she, as our Gospel tells us today, “kept all these things and reflected on them in her heart.” She was able to study the Gospel before it had ever been written, by reflecting on all the events surrounding the birth and life and death of her Son. And because of Mary, we can reflect on it all too, and rejoice that we are sons and daughters of God.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Mary, the Mother of God

Today’s readings

My mother has a lot of stories about me as I was growing up.  Some of them are funny or interesting, others are just a little painful or embarrassing.  I suspect your mother has or had stories like that about you too.  Maybe they are funny or maybe they are sad, but these are the stories that make us cringe a little bit when we hear them.

I wonder how Jesus felt about the stories Mary remembered about him.  Probably they didn’t make him cringe!  Luke tells us of all the amazing things that were observed and said about Jesus, even in his infancy, and all these things are what Mary kept and reflected on in her heart.  I think it’s fair to say that she probably didn’t understand all of them at the time, or at least she didn’t know where they were leading, although she certainly knew that her son was someone very special, the Son of God.  And so she keeps all these things and reflects on them in her heart.  She is the first, really, to receive the Gospel – observing it, as it were, while it was happening and unfolding.  And so she is the model for all of us hearers of the Word; we too catch little phrases or episodes that we later reflect on in our hearts.  When we first hear them, it might well be that we don’t understand them.  But we know that we can later reflect on them in our hearts, and the Holy Spirit will reveal their meaning.

The Church gives us this wonderful feast of Mary on this, the octave day of Christmas.  In a very real way, the Church still celebrates this day as Christmas day – that’s one of the wonderful things about being Catholic.  We don’t have to cast off Christmas with the wrapping paper; we get to celebrate for many days.  But to celebrate the eighth day of Christmas as the feast of Mary, the Mother of God is a wonderful and appropriate thing to do.  We all know that if Mary hadn’t said “yes” to God’s invitation and cooperated with his plan for her, that salvation history might have gone rather poorly, to say the least.  We are indebted to Mary’s faith, a faith which made possible the salvation of the whole world and everyone ever to live in it.

More than that, Mary’s faith is a model for us.  We often do not know where God is leading us, but in faith we are called to say “yes” anyway.  How willing are we to do that?  We are often called upon to take a leap of faith, make a fiat, and cooperate with God’s saving plan for us and for others.  Just like Mary, we have no way of knowing where that might lead us; just like Mary, that might lead to heartache and sorrow; but just like Mary, it may lead to redemption beyond belief, beyond anything we can imagine.

And so, yes, Mary is the Mother of God.  And let me tell you, this was a doctrine that didn’t come without a price.  People fought over whether a human woman could ever be the mother of God.  How would that be possible?  But the alternative, really, would be to say that Jesus was not God, because we clearly know that Mary was his mother.  So to say that Mary was not the Mother of God is to say in a very real and precarious way that Jesus was not God, and we know just as surely that that would be incorrect.  Jesus was fully human but also fully divine, his human and divine natures intertwined in his person without any separation or division or degradation of one nature at the expense of another.  And so, as theologians teach us, Mary is the Mother of God the Word according to his human nature.  Sister Sarah made us memorize that in seminary, and every once in a while, when I’m feeling particularly theologically courageous, I reflect on that statement and marvel at its beauty.

So, Mary is the Mother of God, but Mary is also the Mother of the Church, leading its members to her son Jesus and to faith in God.  She is mother of priests, caring for us in a special way and interceding for the faithful completion of our mission.  She is the mother of mothers, interceding for them and showing them how to nurture faith in their children.  She is the mother of the faithful, showing us how to cooperate fully with God’s plan.  She is mother of scripture scholars and those who just love the scriptures, having seen the Word unfold before her and treasuring it in her heart.  She is the mother of disciples, having been the first of the disciples and the most dedicated of them all.  She is the Mother of God, and our mother, and we cannot sing our Christmas carols without singing her praises too.  We honor her faith and example today, and we ask for her intercession for our lives, for our families, for our Church and our world.

Pray for us, o holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Mary, the Mother of God

Today’s readings

bluemarMy mother has a lot of stories about me as I was growing up.  Some of them are funny or interesting, others are just a little painful or embarrassing.  I suspect your mother has or had stories like that about you too.  My mother tells the story about me as a toddler.  I don’t remember the story, obviously, but she thinks it’s pretty funny.  Now, anyway.  Apparently at that time, my parents had a habit of sneaking out of Mass after Communion.  I know nobody here would do such a thing, but they did.  So one day, if you can imagine this even possibly happening, I was making kind of a fuss – no way, right?  My dad picked me up to go to the back of church.  As we were headed to the back, I said in kind of a loud voice at a rather inopportune pause in the priest’s homily, “Are we going to get coffee cake and donuts now?”  As impossible as this story is to believe about me, this is the story that my mother kept and reflected on in her heart!

But Luke tells us of all the amazing things that were observed and said about Jesus, even in his infancy, and all these things are what Mary kept and reflected on in her heart.  I think it’s fair to say that she probably didn’t understand all of them at the time, or at least she didn’t know where they were leading, although she certainly knew that her son was someone very special, the Son of God.  And so she keeps all these things and reflects on them in her heart.  She is the first, really, to receive the Gospel – observing it, as it were, as it was happening and unfolding.  And so she is the model for all of us hearers of the Word; we too catch little phrases or episodes that we later reflect on in our hearts.  When we first hear them, it might well be that we don’t understand them.  But we know that we can later reflect on them in our hearts, and the Holy Spirit will reveal their meaning.  Mary is the model for all of us hearers and lovers of the Word of God.

The Church gives us this wonderful feast of Mary on this, the octave day of Christmas.  In a very real way, the Church still celebrates this day as Christmas day – that’s one of the wonderful things about being Catholic.  We don’t have to cast off Christmas with the wrapping paper; we get to celebrate for many days.  But to celebrate the eighth day of Christmas as the feast of Mary, the Mother of God is a wonderful and appropriate thing to do.  We all know that if Mary hadn’t said “yes” to God’s invitation and cooperated with his plan for her, that salvation history might have gone rather poorly, to say the least.  We are indebted to Mary’s faith, a faith which made possible the salvation of the whole world and everyone ever to live in it.

More than that, Mary’s faith is a model for us.  We often do not know where God is leading us, but in faith we are called to say “yes” anyway.  We are often called upon to take a leap of faith, make a fiat, and cooperate with God’s saving plan for us and others.  Just like Mary, we have no way of knowing where that might lead us; just like Mary, that might lead to heartache and sorrow; but just like Mary, it may lead to redemption beyond belief, beyond anything we can imagine.

And so, yes, Mary is the Mother of God.  And let me tell you, this was a doctrine that didn’t come without its own price.  People fought over whether a human woman could ever be the mother of God.  How would that be possible?  But the alternative, really, would be to say that Jesus was not God, because we clearly know that Mary was his mother.  So to say that Mary was not the Mother of God is to say in a very real and precarious way that Jesus was not God, and we know just as surely that that would be incorrect.  Jesus was fully human but also fully divine, his human and divine natures intertwined in his person without any separation or division or degradation of one nature at the expense of another.  And so, as theologians teach us, Mary is the Mother of God the Word according to his human nature.

But Mary is also the Mother of the Church, leading its members to her son Jesus and to faith in God.  She is mother of priests, caring for us in a special way and interceding for the faithful completion of our mission.  She is the mother of mothers, interceding for them and showing them how to nurture faith in their children.  She is the mother of the faithful, showing us how to cooperate fully with God’s plan.  She is mother of scripture scholars and those who just love the scriptures, having seen the Word unfold before her and treasuring it in her heart.  She is the mother of disciples, having been the first of the disciples and the most dedicated of them all.  She is the Mother of God, and our mother, and we cannot sing our Christmas carols without singing her praises too.  We honor her faith and example today, and we ask for her intercession for our lives, our families, our Church and our world.

Pray for us, o holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.