Monday, September 8, 2014

“The Son of God became man for our salvation but only in Mary and through Mary.”

"The world being unworthy to receive the Son of God directly from the hands of the Father, he gave his Son to Mary for the world to receive him from her."-- Saint Augustine, Father and Doctor of the Church

Gospel Text: (MT 1:18-23)
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”

The Church has celebrated Mary’s birth since the sixth century, not only to honor her as the Mother of God but also to mark a unique moment in salvation history. As the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council put it, “After a long period of waiting, the times are fulfilled in her, the exalted Daughter of Zion, and the new plan of salvation is established” (On the Church, 55).

Today’s feast tells us that God always keeps his promises. Mary and Joseph knew this truth. What a shocking message the angel Gabriel delivered when he told Mary that she, a virgin, was to bear God’s Son! She didn’t know how it would happen, yet she believed.

We have to try to put ourselves in Mary’s place. I bet she could certainly sense how uneasy, indeed how anxious, Joseph was about the whole thing. Her parents too I bet noticed her bulging tummy and perhaps suspected Joseph, even if they may have chosen not to confront either Mary or Joseph. And Mary could not explain... who would believe her? What could she do? She did what the gospel tells us later that she did: she pondered in her heart. It was this trusting pondering that led her from not understanding to not needing to understand. It was this that carried her through the moments of darkness in her life, especially at Calvary – how can a mother understand the cruel execution of her innocent Son? But she no longer needed to understand and she held her ground at the foot of the cross.

A very good grace to pray for is this idea of trusting despite our life’s difficulties, when we find ourselves not understanding what is happening in us and around us.

Today is also a great day to imitate Mary with our own yes to God. It’s a great day to tell him that we want to try our best to follow Mary’s example. We may not be perfectly sinless or completely understand everything, but Christ still lives in us. Let’s honor him today by taking his mother’s advice: “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5).

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