Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mother Mary, Thank You For Everything

This is the last blog post of 2011. Since I shall take tomorrow off, I'll wish everyone a Happy New Year. Tomorrow is also the joyful celebration of the Octave of Christmas. Traditionally this day commemorates the action by which Jesus was ceremonially included among the children of Abraham. The Son of God made man sheds blood in the ritual of circumcision, which foreshadows the mystery of the blood He will shed on the Cross--His life's blood, which He gives to us. It is, once again, a manifes- tation: the sign of the covenant is sealed upon Him who is in Person the fulfillment of the covenant. The Roman rite now observes this day as a special feast in honor of Mary, under the title of Theotokos, the Mother of God. This too is a manifestation, as the celebration of the birth of the Son is inseparable from the miracle of Mary's motherhood.

To me it is a great thing that we begin the year with the celebration of Mary's motherhood. The Son manifests Himself to the world by being born of a Virgin, and the Mother manifests the Son--true God and true man--through the miracle of the Virgin Birth, which with all of its concreteness proclaims and continues the whole miracle of Mary's maternity. The Mother matters, because everything about her is a revelation and a means of communicating this astonishing fact: God really became man.

God loves us. But the point is not to comfort our sentiments, to make us "feel good." The purpose of His love is to transform us, to make us "like" Him, to give us a share in His glory. Christ does not make us complacent and self-satisfied; He is the great Provocation, the call to self-abandonment, to complete trust. We are challenged to use our freedom in order to say--with love--that our whole lives belong to this man.

How is it that we are not overwhelmed by this man? There is the temptation to wish that God had not come so close. A provident God who takes care of us but stays "in heaven"--we sometimes think this is what we really want. There is always the danger that we will reduce our perception of "Christianity" to a kind of comfortable Theism. But the Great Lover is here, and He says to us, "follow me." We are called to embark upon an adventure in which we are not in control, to travel a narrow path that we do not understand, but also to discover a great life, to discover in Him the real purpose of our own humanity.

And the grace of God is the power that shapes us to the measure of this Divine and human greatness. It is the guaranty that we will not be overwhelmed, that the love of the Infinite Mystery is an intimate reality in our lives.

Here it is that Mary appears before me. Her motherhood, Mother of God and mother of all of us, of the life of God in us, of Christ in us. Mary, a real mother. The Woman, in all of the scope and exercise of her femininity, takes her place here, at the center of my life. I could launch into a treatise of Marian theology here, but I prefer--in these last hours of the year 2011--to express quiet gratitude.

It is fitting to end this good year, with all of its drama as the unfolding of the mystery of God's plan for the world and for my life, in this simple way: thank you, Mary. Thank you for being my Mother. The true God who is Lord of all comes to me through you. The face of Jesus appears to me as the fruit of your womb, as a real man born of a woman. Thank you Mary for your love, which brings me such a gift.

Thank you, Mother Mary, for Jesus, for everything. Jesus. Mary. Jesus, I trust in You.