Our Gospel for today, The Feast of the Solemnity of the Mother of God, is taken from Luke, Chapter 16, verses 16 to 21.
Today is the Feast of the Mother of God, without whom we would not have had Christmas.
Often when we think of Mary, we think of the three gifts of God that He gave to her. The Immaculate Conception, Virginal Motherhood and her Assumption into Heaven.
Around these three doctrines, the devotion of Centuries has centered. This is the Mary the Church knows best. She is, in fact, all that is nearest and dearest to God in humankind.
The problem is that Mary’s most precious privileges make her beyond our imitation. We address Mary as, Holy Mary, Mother of God. Yes, the Church has always said that next to Jesus, Mary was the Holiest of humans.
Now, holiness means union with God. Union with God depends on two factors: on God and on us. On God’s initiative and our response, all holiness, all union with God starts with God.
It was God who kept sin from Mary’s soul; from the first moment of her existence. It was God who chose Mary to be the Virgin Mother of His Son. It was God who lifts Mary’s body into Heaven, but God always asks one question: Will you?
That is why He asked Mary, “Will you be the Mother of God?” And while the world waited breathlessly, Mary said yes.
God wants us to be one with Him, to be holy. He sent the initiative at our baptism. Sent His Holy Spirit to make us His. He took the initiative at our first holy communion. With the Eucharist, you bear Heaven inside of you. But remember: though God takes the initiative, He always asks one question: will you?
He never forces, never thrusts Himself upon us. He is the One who stands at the door and knocks, waiting for us to say, “Come in.”
Perhaps, as we start the new year, we might want to ask a question: do you want God to be formed in your heart? Do you want to build up, in your soul, the Christ you received at baptism? The Christ you welcome in holy communion?
Do you really want to fashion Christ in yourself, so that like Mary, you can give Him to us? Do you want to be one with God? Or is there something else you would rather have? Someone or something that stands between you and Christ.
On your response depends your holiness, your union with God. You are one with God, only to the extent you say sincerely “Yes” to Him, just as Mary did. This very human, Jewish woman stands before you, not like a lifeless statue, but as a living example of God’s finest example of what it means to be a disciple, how you should live here and now if you want to follow Christ.
Not only you, individually. This is what the Christian community must be, and do, if it wants to the Church of Christ.
Our Lady, Mother of the Church, stands before each and all of us who claim to be Christian, ceaselessly urging us on. What she said to the servants at Cana’s wedding feast: “Do whatever He tells you.”
She speaks not from book learning, but from living experience. For in the story of humankind, no human being has listened to the Word of God more intently, and has said yes to God more unreservedly, has done the word of God more perfectly.
For the Christian, your genuine Christmas joy flows from the realization that because of the birth of Christ, redemption has touched you. That God loves you, wants to live in you. There is joy no one can take from you.
It is not that you blind yourself to reality, that you close your eyes to poverty, pain, war, cancer. They will always be as vivid to you as they are to the non-believer.
But still, you can be filled with joy, because in the midst of darkness, you see light. In the midst of death, you find life.
The life brought to you, through Mary.
Praised be Jesus Christ. Now and forever more. Amen.