Mary, Mother of God

Friends of mine are new grandparents and of course, I asked to see their “brag book”. Today, that brag book is on Facebook as well as in print! At any rate, most parents and grandparents are so proud of their newborn that they naturally wish to show off their infant!

No doubt Mary and Joseph were proud parents and only too willing to show off Jesus even to these stranger-shepherds. Mary and Joseph heard the shepherds’ message and rejoiced when the shepherds were “glorifying and praising God.”

I doubt that this birth was easy for Mary or that she took it for granted. The events of the incarnation are neither easy to understand nor to embrace. How was Mary able to accept these events? Mary heard the shepherds’ good news and took it into her heart and reflected on it.

Mary shows us the way: we, too, must adopt a contemplative stance before God. Mary’s ongoing yes to God wasn’t easy. The only way she remained faithful was that she took a contemplative stance-reflecting, pondering, praying.

Our feast today encourages us in our own yes to God. The mystery of the incarnation that Mary models for us is that God’s life dwells within each of us. But in our busy, everyday living we can easily lose sight of that Life in us. It is only by making a conscious effort to ponder the way we live and how God is guiding us that we are able to face the difficulties of life with sureness of blessing and strength.

Christ Incarnate

In a recent conversation with members of our parish renewal team, I realized that we live in a very logical society: we want proofs, we love our technological gimmicks, we avoid risks when we aren’t sure something is trustworthy. But curiously, we are a people of belief: we place our trust in surgeons, we act on the advice of certain persons, we take a risk when we try something new. We recognize that relationships always entail a certain amount of trust and self-surrender. Our readings this Advent have shown us that nothing about what Mary and Elizabeth was logical. They relied solely on their belief that God’s word would be fulfilled and they trusted in that word.

In our Gospel today, Mary sets out to visit the elderly Elizabeth who also is pregnant according to the word of Gabriel. Two incarnations are announced. Jesus in the womb of Mary, and the Holy Spirit who filled Elizabeth. And for each, their child will change their lives forever. Although Elizabeth extols Mary for her belief, it was also Elizabeth’s belief that enabled her to conceive John as well as recognize the presence of the Savior in her midst through Mary.

On this last Sunday before Christmas, we are led into the depth of the Christmas mystery. Like Mary, we are called to birth Christ’s presence in our world today. And in bringing Christ to our world, we are blessed as we share in the very life of God.