A mother was asked, “When is your greatest joy of motherhood?” She replied, “When they’re all in bed, asleep.”
That’s not our joy and cause for gathering, recognizing Mary as the Mother of God. Not to be divisive but Protestants wince at the title given to her. Yet, if Jesus is indeed God, what other conclusion can you reach? Mother. Child. Relationship of the mother to the child?
The Church argued centuries ago about this title. It was often told that Jesus grew in our human form and gradually evolved or learned about his Godship. Others were told that it was two natures that slowly merged as one. Both got the boot (“heretic” in churchy terms). Both tellings missed the inspiration of our Hebrew Scriptures, formally called The Old Testament. How many prophets? Most of them predicted and hoped for a union between what’s up there and what we experience down here. It’s called the incarnation. It is brought about for your amazement and adoration through a simple teenage girl to be recognized as the Mother of God.
Mary gives birth to a son who lived all of our messed lives in everything but original sin. Sin was reserved for us. The reserved was reserved for us to show us how to become God-like. (Please hear the hyphen in those two words.) Never to be God (small “g,” as we often think of ourselves), but “like” in our thoughts, words, and deeds.
I’ve used the word “through” to describe the birth of Jesus. However, they are not called “labor pains” for nothing. Now many hours of you moms experienced those two words coming together? Thinking that delivery is so near only to be delayed and with more delays.
Doesn’t that sound like our “on-again, and-off-again” lives? “Tomorrow,” we pray to God, “my life will be as new as the changing year’s number. We then even add a “promise” to it as though that solidifies it. A here-today-gone-tomorrow promise. By tomorrow afternoon, around 5:00, we find ourselves back on our knees, hoping for a newer tomorrow to make that very same promise.
Life, and our life of faith, teaches us to live life. Live life through Mary-examples. (Another hyphen.) Here’s a few of them. The Blessed Mother begins for us by doubting. An over-arching angle stands boldly in her living room, wings touching both her walls in her one-bedroom apartment, right before she’s ready to eat supper. The Blessed Mother was troubled when discovering that her almost teenage son was not with the traveling group. The Blessed Mother witnessed what her son was providing for the poor, lame, the blind and sick, and even his best dead friend. The Blessed Mother saw the scars on his back for doing nothing then being himself. The Blessed Mother saw purple placed all over him, mocking him for claiming to be a king. The Blessed Mother saw it all.
We’ve seen it all! We see it on TV and read about it not only in the news but also in our families and the families next door to us. How often we dismissively say, “How can a God allow a community parade in Waukesha to end that way?” “I can’t shop anymore at a mall and try on Christmas dresses with my daughter in the dressing room?” That mother held her dying daughter in her arms as Mary held her son. “Don’t you dare tell me about God and his Mother?”
“God-Bearer,” a third hyphen, is the Greek name those centuries-old folks gave to Mary. “God-Bearer.” Is it a title only reserved for Mary, or is it a joining she now lovingly shares with us? “God-Bearer.” Wrapped around our shoulders is the God that we each proudly bear witness to others with our many ounces of goodwill, forgiveness, and grace. What’s been modeled for us from the Mother who was “full,” full of grace.
One woman who had three children was asked, “If you had to do it all over again, would you have the number of children?” “Yes,” she replied, “But not the same ones.”
Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. are available at Amazon.com