Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

January 1: solemnity of Mary, mother of God (Luke 2:16-21)

Fr. Benjamin SIM, SJ - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The octave day of the Birth of Jesus and the first day of the New Year is devoted to Mary, the Mother of God, in our liturgy.

The Holy Spirit came to fill her with His power, raising her motherhood to the highest level. Mary is in reality the mother of the Incarnate Word of God. It is Mary who gave of her whole self to form the sacred humanity of Him, who is "the image of the invisible God."

Jesus could say, "He who sees me has seen the Father." Mary gave him the body that he would one day offer in sacrifice to the Father for the salvation of the world. He took from her the body that he would give as food to sustain us on our struggle in the journey through this earthly life. It was the blood of her blood that filled his little veins so that he could pour it out as his own in remission of man's sins.

It is said that all coins have something in common, be it 25 centavos, 50, one peso or 5 or 10. They all have two sides. Today's feast with the double title - the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God - is like a coin with two sides.

If the title Mary, the Mother of God were a coin, one side of the coin would be about Mary, while the other side of the coin would be about Jesus.

Mary would want Jesus side of the coin to receive all the attention, to be the side that everybody wants to get when they flip the coin.

Our Feast of Christmas began a week ago. Now the Feast continues with the account of the shepherds and what they had heard and seen.

The Baby in the manger is also really God, and that Baby's mother is truly the Mother of God. To become one of us, God asked a young maiden for her cooperation in the divine plan. She said, "Yes," and with that "Yes" Mary became the Mother of God.

God's greatest lesson for us remains ever the same: God so loves us that He chooses to be one of us – with a human mind and human knowledge, with human emotions and a human body.

And God's greatest call to us is the same as to Mary - to say "yes" to God in our lives. And Mary can help us do that.

Fr. Mark Link cites the story of a girl, who handed a note to her retreat master at the end of a retreat. She related that for the past eight months she had been in psychotherapy. And as a child, she experienced overwhelming fear, because of hatred and abuse. A major focus of her life then was to overcome and transform that fear, caused by hatred and abuse. Much of her fear was centered on her mother. She had become so turned off to the concept of mothers that she consciously rejected the love of Mary.

"After your talk, I walked outside, feeling terribly alone. I prayed for the grace to break through the wall that was keeping me from trusting…. I wanted to cry, but haven't in months.

“You may have noticed a small, round building near the cemetery. Curiosity is one of my strongest traits - I walked to it and opened the door. When I looked inside, I was filled with fear. There stood a large statue of Mary. My first impulse was to run away in anger. But something drew me slowly to the kneeler at her feet. Then I fell to my knees weeping into the fold of her robes.

"When it was over, I felt cleansed and new. I felt willing to be a trusting child. …Even more important, I felt that a mother's love had touched me - leaving in me a true desire to forgive my natural mother."

First, Mary is our mother. She isn't just the mother of Jesus, who lived over 2,000 years ago. She's also our mother who lives today. And from her place in heaven, she wants to help us with a mother's help.

Second, Mary is also our model. She's someone we can admire and imitate.Consider just one of her traits: her trust in God.

When the angel told her she'd bear a son by the Holy Spirit, Mary knew this could cause Joseph to break off his engagement to her - as indeed he almost did. But she put her trust in God.

Later, when Mary and Joseph took the infant Jesus to the Temple, Simeon told Mary, "Sorrow, like a sword, will break your own heart." Again, Mary didn't understand these words. But she put her trust in God.

Later still, when Jesus was twelve, he remained in the Temple letting his parents search for him for three days. When Mary asked him about this, Jesus replied, "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"

Again, Mary didn't understand. But she put her trust in God. It's precisely in the area of trust in God that Mary can help us today. Mary can help us trust, just as she helped the girl on the retreat.

And so today's feast reminds us that Mary is our model and our mother. She's someone we can turn to in time of need. She's someone, who can help us. She's someone, who wants to help us. All we need to do is to turn to her. If we are looking for a New Year's resolution, we could do no better then to resolve to give Mary a bigger role in our life.

Let's close with a prayer that St. Bernard used to pray daily to Mary:

"Remember, O most loving Virgin Mary, That never was it known That anyone who fled to your protection, Implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided.

"Inspired with this confidence, we turn to you, O Virgin of virgins, our Mother.

To you we come, Before you we stand, sinful and sorrowful.

"O Mother of the Word Incarnate, Do not turn away from us, But in your mercy hear and answer us."


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