Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God!

A short post today, to wish everyone a very happy and blessed Feast of the Most Holy Mother of God, Mary Our Hope.

Today is the Octave of the Feast of Christmas, the culmination of that Feast which celebrates the manifestation of God as Man (a mystery upon which we nevertheless continue reflecting through Epiphany and even so far as the Presentation of the Lord).

The Christmas Mystery is not simply the celebration of the Incarnation: that was already underway from the other Feast of the Incarnation nine months previous, the Annunciation to Our Lady. But at Christmas we intensify our reflection on this mystery, seeing for the first time fully manifest the Lord's plan of salvation. This is why the season is so rich in the writings of the Prophets of the Old Testament - for we are told, in John 1:45 (where Nathanael is called by Philip), that this Christ is "Quem scripsit Moyses in Lege et Prophetae" - the one written in the Law and the Prophets (notice, not merely the one written "of" or "about" - He is, in John's kerygma, the Word Himself).

The saving plan which has been underway since the beginning of Creation comes to its final and consummate chapter now, with Christ made manifest to the nations. It is therefore only fitting that the fulfillment of the Feast of this Manifestation directs us toward Mary, the human person most instrumental in that plan, from the very beginning. Mary is "the woman" of Genesis, included in the proto-evangelium which first announced God's saving plan in crushing the head of the Serpent who brought sin and its sting, death. This mysterious prophecy is recapitulated in the Apocalypse, where the woman returns, shown in childbirth and still engaged in her ancient enmity with the dragon.

Mary is not an incidental player on the stage of the drama of salvation: she is essential, a sine qua non. It is significant in this regard that the Gospel visitors to the manifestation of Emmanuel at Bethlehem do not merely find the God-Man alone. The Shepherds find "Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger" (Luke 2:15); and - more emphatically - the Magi, representative of the nations of earth to whom Christ's birth promises salvation, "went into the house and saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him" (Matthew 2:11).

Such was the plan from the beginning, and so it remains as it is made manifest to us in this Christmas mystery. Jesus was to be born of a woman, born of the woman of promise, the new Eve, the woman preserved from sin like no human person had ever been: not merely created sinless as Adam and Eve, but conceived already perfected by Grace, emphatically preserved from every stain and fault.

And this Jesus, who has been made known to us in this last age, whom all the prophets promised, is to be worshiped indeed, but it is the will of God that He be worshiped - always and everywhere - with Mary his mother. In the ineffable wisdom of God, He willed to come to us through Her - not just once, but in each and every coming, in every instance of Grace, in every sacrament. And it His will, further, that we return to Him through Her as well - no other way. Ad Jesum, per Mariam.

So it is that the Church points us in the fullness of Christmastide to Mary, so that we can find Christ where He may be found, and worship Him as He wills. Let us do so this day, and every day.

Ora pro nobis, Sancta Dei Genitrix.

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