Homily for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. It reminds us of the importance and the honor that we give to Mary as Catholics. I’m sure most of us here today have been asked at least once why Catholics give the Blessed Mother such an important place in the Church. The simple answer is that she said yes. She said yes to the invitation from the Father to be the bearer of Christ, to be the bearer of God himself.
The title “Mother of God” is from the Greek “Theotokos,” meaning “God-bearer.” It is through this celebration, which finds its origins in discussions that took place at the Council of Ephesus in 431, that the church reminds us of Mary’s unique role in God’s plan of salvation. Without Mary’s fiat, without her “yes,” Jesus would not have come into the world when He did and our salvation would have, at best, been delayed, at worst, it may not have ever happened. So, we give honor to Mary because she had the courage to respond to God’s invitation, to welcome God’s grace into her own life, and to conform her will to that of the Father’s. In doing so, she gave the world the greatest gift that we could ever imagine…the gift of God’s Son.
So often we look at Mary as a model of faith, and that is fitting, because she is the perfect disciple. She was the one who was so attentive to the Lord’s presence, she was ready to accept whatever the Holy Spirit wanted to do in and through her and she was ready to say yes, even to the most difficult of vocations, from a very young age. She is the model of faith for us, who showed her fidelity to her Son all the way until his death on the Cross. She remained faithful even when she watched her Son die the most brutal of deaths because she knew that it was part of a bigger plan. Imagine how difficult that must have been for her as a mother. And so today, we focus on that motherhood because it is in her title as Mother of God that she also becomes our mother.
In our 2nd reading from the Letter to the Galatians, we are reminded of the story of the Incarnation and its importance for us as Christians. Paul writes that, in the fullness of time, “God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” What that tells us is that the Father sent Jesus into the world for two reasons: to redeem us from our sins and, in doing so, enable us to become His sons and daughters.
Remember, with the Fall of Adam and Eve, humanity was fatally wounded by Original Sin and our communion with the Father was ruptured. We needed a way to repair that. We needed a way to fix the damaged relationship and to restore humanity to its original state of grace. When Our Lord was born of Mary, the divine Person of God the Son, Jesus, took up our wounded humanity and healed it. He restored the possibility of entering into communion with the Father. In that one act, Christ was not only our Lord and Savior, but he also became our Brother. In his death on the cross, we became the adopted sons and daughters of God. But it was also in that moment that we became the sons and daughters of Mary. Remember what Jesus from the cross: “He said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother.’”
Throughout his earthly life, Jesus entrusted himself to Mary’s care. The invitation for each of us is to do the same. We, too, should entrust ourselves to Mary’s care as our mother each and every day, simply by giving her some of our time. For her part, Mary never stopped treasuring Jesus. As St. Luke tells us, “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” She never stopped thinking about how the things that her son experienced and accomplished were all part of God’s bigger plan for the salvation of the world. She never lost sight of the bigger picture. If we follow our Blessed Mother’s example, by keeping Christ in the spotlight of our hearts, his grace will gradually heal our wounds, strengthen our weakness, resolve our conflicts, and bring us more and more of his peace.
Today in Holy Communion we will receive the Body of Christ, which was formed in the womb of Mary. It’s the same Jesus that Mary held in her arms on that first Christmas; the same Jesus that Mary protected during the flight into Egypt; the same Jesus that Mary fed, bathed, clothed, and nurtured; the same Jesus that Mary watched die as He hung upon the Cross. When we receive that same Jesus today, let’s ask our spiritual Mother, the Mother of God, “to teach us how to take care of the precious faith we have received and renewed during these days, just as she took care of the baby Jesus.” Let’s ask her to intercede for us so that we may become the best disciples of Christ that we can be. Mary was faithful to her firstborn Son. She will also be faithful to his brothers and sisters – if we simply give her the chance.