January 1, 2023
Is Catholic devotion to Mary not biblical? Is she an obstacle to direct contact with Jesus? Many of our Protestant brothers and sisters, and even many Catholics, have these concerns. How can the Gospels themselves help us understand her role in our lives?
- The Holy Spirit leads the Church to a deeper understanding of Scripture.
- Jesus chose to become the Child of Mary.
- Mary was formed by Jesus as no one else.
- Jesus Himself, from the Cross, gives us Mary as our Mother.
This is a computer-generated transcription that has been included to make the homily searchable. It has not been verified by the author.
“When the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” Born of a woman, of course, that’s the for all of us, that’s how we begin. Because a little child is at such a critical and vulnerable state. And so, God desires for the child, to have the love, and nurture the tenderness and care of a mother, watching out for him and protecting him. And even Jesus, even Jesus, though He had Go as His Father with the grace of the Holy Spirit, but God wanted Him also to have the care, the love the nurturing of a mother. And not just at the beginning of His mission, but to help Him accomplish His mission all the way to the cross, even at that moment of the cross. And again, we might think, especially for an adult man, who has all the union with the Father, in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, He wouldn’t need a mother. But Jesus, the strongest of all men, because He is God Himself, but also had the support and the love of a mother. And today we’re experiencing, we’re celebrating this feast of Mary as Mother of God. For a lot of people, that’s even a shocking phrase, Mother of God, it is the kind of a shocking phrase, but it’s the truth. And for us, in these difficult times that we’re going through many, much suffering in these times, and so especially in these times, we began with a very foggy morning, as we begin this new year 2023. And that fog is maybe kind of a sign of the uncertainty, we can’t see very far ahead, on where we’re going. And so, as we begin, God’s providence gives us this feast, and this presence of Mary, as our mother also. And so, I wanted to reflect with you today on as we begin this new year, and this new stage. So, this reminds us that humanity is entering the stage that we’ve never had before. This, and we know that so much is changing in our world, and so much is called into question. And so, we’re entering uncharted territory. And so, in this moment, the Church gives us, the Lord gives us this presence of our Blessed Mother. But before we do that, I want to address a concern, because a lot of our protestant brothers and sisters are concerned that Mary can become an obstacle for our path to Jesus. And that’s a very legitimate question. Because many people, many relationships do become obstacles in our relationship with the Lord, they become idols. And so, it’s important for us to be aware that, but Mary is full of grace. She is like a perfectly clean window. And so that when you look at the window, you see Jesus. When you look at Mary, you see Jesus no one should by being full of grace, full of the Spirit of God. When we look at her there’s no, there’s no human imperfections, to mar what we see. We see the Lord. And remember what our Blessed Mother attained. when they asked her what to do, she said, “Do whatever He tells you.” And that’s what Mary always directs us to do. Whatever Jesus tells us to do, always leading us to listen and obey the Lord. But as I mentioned, a lot of our protestant brothers and sisters, they’re concerned that they have a great love for the Bible. And they’re concerned that this is not clearly stated in the Bible. And the Church, the Holy Spirit guides the Church, because the Bible is the Word of God and being the Word of God, that means there’s an infinite richness and depth of divine mystery and Holy Spirit guides the Church, and especially in the hearts of the saints, to understand more deeply, not just a superficial understanding that was one of the struggles Jesus always had was often His word was understood very superficially. And he was always trying to help people understand the depth of the Word of God. And so, Mary is the greatest example that we had just as we heard in the Gospel today, Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart, listening and pondering the Word of God. And so, I wanted to share with you today, three examples from scripture that can help us understand Mary’s role, the role God wants her to have in our life. And so again, these are all from scripture, but they require, and they’re not, they require a little bit of reflection on Scripture. So, the first is the very beginning of Jesus life, His Incarnation. Think, put yourself in a place of God, well, that’s hard to do. But God wants to do something which is not normal at all. It’s never been done. God to become man, the true God to become man. So, how’s He going to do this? One way would be, for instance, to maybe just kind of appear as the mysterious stranger who came from, we’re not sure where, as a fully formed adult, so that people couldn’t say, like they said, about Jesus, we know His father and mother. And that was one of the obstacles for believing in Him. Or even maybe better, would be, what if Jesus gathered at some great Jewish feast in Jerusalem, there was some extraordinary manifestation in heaven. Like maybe, for instance, think of the miracle, the sun at Fatima. And then Jesus, while everybody is amazed and looking up at the sky, Jesus comes down, in glory and majesty, again, as a full adult, as a powerful king, How much easier would have been right for people to believe Him? So, I have a better idea than God, right? Why didn’t God think of that? Because, again, there’s nothing normal about God becoming man. It’s completely abnormal, it’s never been done. And even God’s people didn’t think it ever would happen. So, God was freely choosing how He was going to do this, what’s the best way to do this. And He chose to become man, beginning like a little child, like all other humans. But the difference is, He freely chose to do that. You know that they say that one of the most important advise for health is to choose your parents carefully. Because that has a huge effect on your life. Well, the only one who could do that is Jesus. He did do that. And He’s God so He can create the mother who has everything that God could want in a mother. And He has the power to do that. And He did do that. But He didn’t just do that He freely chose to become a human, and not just like I said, a fully formed, human coming down, and the strength of His adulthood, but begin at that moment of extreme vulnerability, which is the way human life begins such a tiny, tiny, microscopic, new being. And what we know today is so attacked, and so often killed. And in its mother’s womb, that moment, which is so vulnerable, and yet that’s the way God chose, freely chose. I mean,if any of us had to do that, I mean, luckily, we went through it, but we weren’t aware of what we’re going through. We weren’t aware till afterwards. Imagine if we were conscious as that was happening, how frightening that could be, to be unable to say or do anything, and to be so vulnerable. And yet, He chose to do that. And so, having a mother means the word mother, the reality of Mother means something, it’s already a very special for humanity, but it means something to Him, way beyond what it means to anybody else. And so, what is Jesus saying in the Gospel? He says, “follow me,” right? Follow me. Well, what’s the, if we’re going to follow Jesus, what’s the first thing He did? He became Mary’s child. He freely chose to become the little child of Mary. And when Jesus says in the Gospel, He says mysterious things like that we need, if we want to follow Him, we need to become like a little child. And if He even says something even more radical, He says, We need to be born again. And so, He’s calling us to follow Him by being born again in a new way. And what did He do? He became the little child of our Blessed Mother, He freely chose again, it’s not normal. It’s not well that He had to do it that way. No, He didn’t have to do it that way. He didn’t have to do anything. And so, He freely chose to do that. He chose to become the little child of Mary. So that’s a first example in Scripture. If we think about a little bit, that’s clearly in Scripture, that’s what Jesus did, He became the little child of Mary. So that’s the first example. The second point is His 30 years of hidden life. The Gospel doesn’t say very much about those years, and so we can tend to skip over them too quickly. But think of that, in the 33 years of His life, He spent over 90% of His life, as in those hidden years. Doesn’t that seem kind of crazy? If God only has 33 years in this world, to do all His great Mission of Salvation, shouldn’t He just get the work right away? You know, He’s God, He doesn’t have to wait to grow up, He can do it right away. And yet 90%, 30 of those 33 years He spent in His hidden life. So that’s already a big question mark, why did He do that? Why did He waste all that time? Think of the apostles, the apostles who are going to be His successors. So, they’re chosen to be the ones who will lead the Church. And so, they have three short, very busy years, where Jesus is trying to teach them, but He’s also trying to attend to a lot of other persons. And they, the Gospel says very clearly that they don’t understand very well. It’s not till after His death, and resurrection, and especially the coming of the Holy Spirit, that they will have a much deeper understanding of what He was saying. So, all these three years that He’s teaching them, they’re not often understanding very well. Look at the difference. So, and those were the ones who are going to be the leaders of His Church, when He was when He was no longer on this earth. Look at the difference with Mary. Mary, from, the moment of her Immaculate Conception, was free of all sin. And then at the Annunciation, she is overshadowed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. So, she has a grace of the Holy Spirit, at the beginning of Jesus life, greater than the apostles will have at Pentecost. And she’s the only one who knows Jesus, from His conception to His ascension into heaven. So, she’s the only one who’s experienced all of those years. And not just like, during Jesus public life, and He was very busy with a lot of people. But during those long, 30 years, she had time like nobody else, with St. Joseph for many of those years, and then just with her and Jesus, she had time, like nobody else, to listen, and to learn from Jesus. And so, imagine the difference between the apostles, the privileged apostles, who received more time for man during His public life than anybody else, and hers, the amount of time and the grace that she had to understand. And so, if the apostles had this grace to lead the Church, what is the grace that Mary had? And how important is she, that God devoted all those years to her formation? If the apostle’s role is important in the Church as the foundation of the Church, how important must Mary’s role be that God devoted all those years to forming her, given to her? And so, it’s a sign I think, a very clear sign again, if we just reflect for a moment on scripture, it’s a very clear sign that she must have a absolutely unique role in the life of the Church. Because Jesus is all focused on wanting to save the world. That’s why He formed the apostles and his 70 disciples, but how important must Mary’s role be, in His great work of salvation, if He devoted so much to her, like no one else. So that’s the second example. The third point is that the end of His life when Jesus is on the cross, and John’s Gospel says, “When Jesus saw His mother,” so she is there, she who was there at the very beginning, is there, at this moment, the most difficult moment which even many of His apostles have abandoned Him, almost all of His apostles have abandoned Him, at this moment in which He, He God Himself, become man, is struggling, because He’s at the extreme limit of His, of His suffering and His forces. God wanted Him to have His mother there present, how important it says, is her role, that God Himself to accomplish His mission at the most difficult time, wanted Him to have the support of His mother. “When Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved,” that’s St. John, “standing near, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ ” And so, how important is this to Jesus at this moment in which His suffering is unimaginable, and even to remain rational, is beyond most human possibility, and where His suffering is so extreme, what is so important to Jesus that at that moment in which it’s almost impossible to think, He is thinking of, and wanting before He dies, to do something, to give one final gift before He dies? To give His, to ask Mary to look upon John as his mother. So, these words cost Jesus, like, almost nothing else, that His words on the cross. And so how important is this to Jesus? All Jesus’ words are important. But what He says in the pain of the cross, right, just maybe minutes before His death, how important is that to Jesus? How important are these words, above all? And what are those words? One of them is this “Woman, behold your son.” And so, He is giving Mary this mission of looking upon John, and John represents, I think, all Jesus beloved disciples, Jesus, asking Mary, Jesus has given Mary before He leaves this earth, this mission, to be the mother, not just His mother, but the mother of His disciples. And then the Gospel goes on to say, Then He said to the disciple, John himself, “behold your mother.” So, at this darkest moment, of the life of John, where everything is falling apart, in extreme pain, and evil, and cruelty, at this moment, Jesus is concerned for John, and through John for all His disciples. And so, it’s Jesus Himself, who is saying, from the cross, “behold your mother.” So, you think John’s going to say, No, I can’t do that Jesus, because I’m going to be faithful to you. Well, who is it that saying this to you? At the cross, it’s Jesus Himself, who’s saying, behold your mother. It’s not some Church council who dreamed this up centuries later. This is Jesus at the cross, saying, “Behold, your mother.” So the reason we take Mary as our mother is because it’s Jesus, who gives her to us from the cross as our mother. It’s not some human idea that was dreamed up because somebody read about some ancient Greek or Egyptian mythology. It’s Jesus on the cross, who gives us Mary as our mother. And so how does John respond, it says, “and from that hour, the disciple took her into his own.” It’s often translated his own home. But the Greek is more mysterious. He took her into his own and think not just into his home, but into his heart, into his life. So see what Jesus is offering, a gift. But John also has to accept that gift. John is free to accept or not. John is, and each one of us, each one of us is offered the gift of Mary, but each one of us, Jesus respects our freedom. So, we’re free to ignore that gift, to reject that gift, or to accept that gift. So, Jesus, it’s Jesus Himself who offers Mary as our mother. But each one of us is free to accept her as our mother or not. And so today in which many persons, including many of us are experiencing, the darkness, the confusion, the evil, the pain of the cross, Jesus is also offering to us today, as a practical help, what was more practical, that’s the practical help the Father gave Jesus at the cross, He gave her, He wanted Jesus’ mother to be there, as a practice. So, this is not just some sentimental fluff. Nobody is less sentimental than Jesus, or Mary, and that the cross, the cross was not a very sentimental time. They weren’t thinking of all these beautiful music and fluffy clouds. This was painful, and dark like no other time. And that very non sentimental moment, crucial moment, God gives Jesus His mother to be there, the Father gives Jesus, His mother to be there. So, Mary is given to us, not to feel sentimentality, but to help us be faithful to Jesus to the end, when we also are experiencing His cross. And I say that because oftentimes Marian spirituality is seen as something fluffy, or sentimental. So, to summarize. So, in those three points, which are again are from the Scripture, Jesus incarnation, how he became incarnated, becoming the child of Mary, and inviting us to follow His example. Jesus, devoting all those years, especially during this hidden life, to forming Mary, as a sign of her extreme, completely unique importance of this role. And then Jesus at the cross, giving Mary to us, as our mother. So, life is hard. Life is sometimes extremely hard. And how sad it is that people are saying, Lord, help me. Life is so hard and painful. And then Jesus wants to offer us His mother, well, not her Lord, because I don’t want her to distract me from you. But help me Lord, give me some consolation, some help. That’s why He’s given us Mary, as His mother. And so, this feast of Mary, Mother of God, is an opportunity for us. And many have made that beautiful act of consecration to our Blessed Mother, which is a response to accept Mary, as the mother that Jesus wants to give us. And so today on this feast, of Mary Mother of God, we can listen to Jesus once again telling us, “behold your mother.” And in this Mass, we can, with all the struggles that we’re going through, we can accept her and take her into our life. Amen.
KEYWORDS / PHRASES:
Mary Mother of God