A few weeks ago, during all of the end-of-Advent bustle, I caught this guy taking some time to stop and smell the lemon button fern.
Mary has many titles. We are familiar with a good number of them. The Immaculate Conception, Queen of the Holy Rosary, Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to name a few.
There are probably hundreds if not thousands of others that have special meaning. However, the one title that surpasses all others, the one that we celebrate today is Mary, the Holy Mother of God.
This feast reminds us of a reality that is very easy for us to forget, that God came to us, became one of us, and he did so as a baby. He did not just appear, which God could have done, but He chose to come through a woman. We can lose sight of the fact that Mary conceived a child, though not in the usual way. She carried Him in her body, nourishing Him from within for nine months with all that entails.
This most blessed of all women was and is indeed, the Mother of the second person of the Trinity, a person, a baby that is consubstantial – of the same substance – as the Father, yet lying in her arms, dependent upon her. She is the Mother of God.
The important aspects of the life of Mary such as her own Immaculate Conception and her Perpetual Virginity are the direct consequences of God’s decision to make her the mother of his Son.
From an earthly perspective, from a human perspective, there is no title that can conjure up more feelings than that of “mother”. For most of us it is a name given to a person dear to us, one who embodies a type of love for us that words fail to describe.
The name Mother of God describes the Virgin Mary, who conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Person of Jesus Christ.
But why do we celebrate a day by that name in the Church?
We celebrate it because it confirms and solidifies something that we have just finished celebrating. The Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God sets in our hearts the essential truth of Christmas.
The Title, the use of the words Mother of God speaks to the truth of the incarnation…..of God becoming completely united with our humanity. The very purpose of the title and for its celebration is to leave no doubt in our hearts and minds that Jesus was fully human and fully God.
It is not correct to think of Jesus as someone who is a split person, part God and part man. That maybe it was the God part of Him that worked miracles and the human part of Him that slept in the boat or even died on the cross.
By declaring Mary to be the Mother of God, it makes clear to us that Jesus did not simply put on human flesh. He is not God imitating a man, but both God and Man, like us in all things but sin.
This is essential since it is only because he is truly God that Jesus can be the source of forgiveness for us and only because he is truly man that our humanity can be redeemed.
The dignity Jesus bestows upon women and motherhood is also beyond compare. Jesus subjected himself, was obedient to His Mother Mary and to Joseph, His Earthy father.
Jesus, God, The Creator of the Universe willed to learn how to nail a board from Joseph. Jesus, God himself, learned to say His prayers from Mary. What does that say about the dignity of work, the value of learning, and the importance of prayer?
The One God that has been revealed to us as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, by a Mystery of Mercy, willed that the Second Person, the Son unite Himself with humanity not just for a little while, but for all eternity.
And while we do not diminish the role of Mary, today is really not about her, but about what God did through her obedient and willing heart.
Paul states this truth very eloquently in our second reading:
When the fullness of time had come,
(not the nick of time or the best time, or even the right time, but the fullness of time)
(God did what?) God sent his Son,
(how?) born of a woman, born under the law,
(why?) to ransom those under the law, (that’s us you and me),
(to what end?) so that we might receive adoption as sons and daughters
(of who?) the Father.
And if we are sons and daughters of God the Father, then we are heirs of that same God through the incarnation of God. And to be an heir is to inherit everything!
So it is good to celebrate the name of Mary, because by a singular grace, she is indeed, the Mother of God. But we primarily celebrate what God did, through Mary.
And this day is our celebration as well, for through the incarnation, by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we have been made heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven. That is our dignity, that is our destiny, that is our greatest hope and that is the source of our joy.
Content taken from Homily by Deacon Bill O’Donnell
I love having little helpers in the kitchen. For our family, food is love. And teaching them how to prepare food is one way of teaching them to love others. My older kids all have an appreciation for home-cooked meals, homemade breads and treats. I feel very proud to be instilling this in them because I know they will share the gift with others for as long as they live – whether it is as a chef, or as a happy host at home.
Here’s Georgie helping to knead the saffron dough for lussekatter on the afternoon before St. Lucia’s Day.
Then let us all with one accord
sing praises to our heavenly Lord;
that hath made heaven and earth of nought,
and with his blood mankind hath bought. (The First Nowell, 17th century trad.)
let your blessing come upon us
as we illumine this tree.
May the light and cheer it gives
be a sign of the joy that fills our hearts.
May all who delight in this tree
come to the knowledge and joy of salvation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. – From the Rite of Blessing for a Christmas Tree