Mary Mother of God
January 1, 2010
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today we mark three important events. First,we honour Mary under her supreme title as Mother of God. Second, on this first day of the new year we mark the passing of time. Finally, we observe today the World Day of Prayer for Peace. The three are related. As we ponder the mystery of Mary, we find help to appreciate the real meaning of time and the way to true peace in our hearts and in our world.
Mary is the Mother of God. This title has been attributed to Mary by the Church since the fifth century. At that time the Church was deeply engaged in pondering the mystery of Jesus Christ and was formulating its great dogmatic affirmations concerning his identity. It was in that early time of her history that the Church pronounced that the child born of Mary at Bethlehem was both true God and true man. Jesus Christ, truly human in virtue of his birth from Mary, is at the same time the eternal Son of God sent to earth from the heavenly Father, as we heard St. Paul teach us. He is, therefore, God. If Jesus is God, then the woman Mary who gave birth to him is, in a true sense, the Mother of God.
From her relation to Jesus Christ she is mother of God, yes; she is also mother of the Church. She is the mother of Him who is the head of the Church. She is the one of whom Christ spoke from the Cross when he said to St. John, and through John to us: "Behold your Mother." Mary is the Mother of God; she is the mother of the Church; and she is, therefore, our mother as well.
We would do well today to ponder our relationship with Mary our mother. Do I turn to her? As our mother she is always near to help us. Do I pray to her? She hears our every prayer and takes our needs to her son. Since she shared intimately in the saving mission of Jesus, her prayers have great power and do not go unanswered. Do I ask her to lead me to Jesus? A mother knows her children. Mary can reveal Jesus to us and lead us to know and love him as no other creature can. Am I taking time to pray the rosary frequently? Through this traditional and beautiful prayer form, Mary guides us through the mysteries of her Son's life and helps us to know him. There is nothing more beautiful than knowing Jesus Christ. Mary leads us to her son and helps us to share in the unsurpassable joy and beauty of knowing Jesus Christ.
St. Paul teaches us in the second reading that Mary gave birth to her son "in the fullness of time". On this New Year's day we are very conscious of time as we mark its passing. Time has an immense impact on our lives, and pondering the mystery of Mary's motherhood helps us appreciate its true meaning.
For many, time is the enemy. How often do we say "So much to do; so little time". It feels like time constricts us and keeps us from doing all that we would like to do. For others, on the other hand, such as the seriously ill or those confined to their homes and beds with mobility restricted, there is too much time. Unable to fill it in any productive way, they feel that the abundance of time robs their life of significance. However, when we ponder the birth in time of Jesus Christ from Mary we realize that neither approach to time is the correct one.
In this Christmas season, we announce that, in the birth of Jesus Christ from Mary, God has entered time. By becoming one of us in Christ and by sharing in our history, God has transformed time and revealed its deepest meaning. Time is not a mere succession of moments and hours devoid of purpose or meaning. Time is a journey, a pilgrimage, toward the fullness of life with God. St. Paul tells us that we have been made the children of God and co-heirs with Christ of an eternal destiny. Time is the pathway that unfolds toward the realization of this destiny in heaven. Every moment, then, is full of astounding potential. Every moment is the possible time of God's intervention in our lives to reveal his great love for us and the purpose to which each of us is called. It is the opportunity for us to answer God in love. Because God has become part of our history in Christ, each moment is the opportunity for an encounter with His Son. God intervened in time, at a particular moment, in the life of Mary and called her to be the mother of the Saviour. He wishes also to come to us, and He does so in time.
On this New Year's Day, then, we should ponder our relation with time. The mysteries we celebrate in this Christmas season are a call to examine how we might better make a gift of our time to God who has given time to us. Do I take time each day for prayer; to read some pages of the Gospel, and ponder their meaning, as Mary pondered deeply all that was said about her son; to do an act of charity; to go to daily Mass? Do I consider myself a possessor of time or its steward?
Finally we mark today the World Day of Prayer for Peace. The desire for peace in the world is a universal longing, echoing in every human heart. As we ponder the mystery of the motherhood of Mary we are reminded that the achievement of peace cannot be the result of human accomplishment alone. The one to whom Mary gave birth is celebrated at Christmas as the Prince of Peace. He alone is our peace. Only in Christ can the world know true peace, because the blood of his Cross has the power to destroy walls of hatred and hostility that keep people apart. Peace demands reconciliation among those at enmity with each other, whether it be individuals or nations. Reconciliation demands a readiness to forgive and seek forgiveness. For all of this to happen, hearts that are bruised, broken, even crushed by hurt and anger need to be healed, and only an encounter with the love of God revealed in Christ can give that healing. He is the Prince of Peace. Each of us, no matter what our state or calling in life, can contribute in a real and significant way to peace by drawing near to Christ and allowing him to heal our hearts as no other can.
On this day when the world is praying for peace, let us begin by praying for peace within our own hearts and lives. Where am I estranged from others? What relationships in my life need healing? What resentments and bitterness do I harbour in my heart? Have my hurts caused me to be so closed in upon myself that I am unaware of the suffering of others around me, in my community, in my country, in my world? Do I need to be set free by the love of Christ so I can set others free?
If Jesus is the Prince of Peace, then Mary is the Queen of Peace. To her who is the mother of God and our mother, to her who loves us with a mother's love and hears our every prayer, let us lift up our prayers for peace. By the power of her prayerful intercession with her Son, may she help us to know her Son, to encounter him in time, and to draw from the wellspring of his love the healing the world needs for a true and lasting peace.
Richard W. Smith
Archbishop of Edmonton