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Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Numbers 6: 22-27 +Galatians 4: 4-7 + Luke 2: 16-21
Holy Spirit Catholic Church: January 1, 2022

The 8 days stretching from Christmas Day through the 1st Day of the New Year
are called the “Octave of Christmas”, or the 8 days of Christmas.
The Church in her wisdom understands that the incredible story of the Incarnation,
of the Son of God taking human flesh and being born for our salvation,
cannot be celebrated in one mere day.
But rather, every day from Christmas to New Year’s is celebrated as Christmas Day,
that we might be drawn deeper into this mighty mystery of Love,
so that the child born of Mary might be born in us anew.

On the first day of Christmas the focus was on the birth of the Son of God.
On this 8th day of Christmas, the focus shifts to the Mother of God,
Today’s solemnity is a perfect bookend to a week of celebrating
the impossible becoming possible, God being born of a woman like you and me.

“For it is nearly impossible to believe: God shrinking down to the size of a zygote,
implanted in the soft lining of a woman’s womb.
God growing fingers and toes in utero.
God kicking and hiccupping in the womb.
God inching down the birth canal and entering this world covered in blood.
God crying out in hunger. God reaching for his mother’s breasts.
God totally relaxed, eyes closed, his chubby little arms raised over his head
in a posture of complete trust.
God resting in his mother’s lap.” (Rachel Held Evans, p.4, Wholehearted Faith)

Only the mind graced with faith can “make sense of this stupendous storyline:
God trusted God’s very self, totally and completely and in full bodily form,
to the care of a woman.
God needed women for survival.
Before Jesus fed us with the bread and the wine, the body and the blood,
Jesus himself needed to be fed, by a woman.
He needed a woman to say: ‘This is my body, given for you.’”
(Rachel Held Evans, p.4-5, Wholehearted Faith)
Before Jesus could feed the world by laying down his life,
a woman had to offer her life for him.

A week ago we heard with the shepherds the great good news heralded
by the angel about the birth of a Savior.
Today we see the shepherds transformed into heralds themselves of this Good News,
trumpeting the great news of the Savior’s birth to the world.

Can we go with the shepherds into this New Year as heralds of the Good News?
Having received the great news of the birth of the Savior,
having allowed the Savior by grace to be born in us anew,
can we join the shepherds in trumpeting to the whole world the Gospel?
Can we join the shepherds in praising and glorifying God with our lives
for all that we have heard and seen: that God has been born of a woman,
that God is with us, that God is therefore for us and not against?

In this New Year, one way we can join the shepherds in announcing to the world
that God is with us, that God out of Love has come to save us,
is by joining the Mother of God in her song of praise.
Mary’s Magnificat is the perfect hymn of praise to sing to the world
at the beginning of this New Year.
For it is a song full of strength and passion and needs to be shouted out to the world.

We shout w/Mary in the mansions of the wealthy & on the floors of stock exchanges…
“God has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.”
In the corridors of the West Wing and the Capitol…
“He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly!”
Among women who have survived assault, harassment, and rape
only to be publicly maligned by their powerful abusers…
“He has look with favor on the lowliness of his servant!
Surely, from now on all generations will called be blessed.”
Among the poor, the refugees, the victims of gun violence,
“His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.”
(Rachel Held Evans, Wholehearted Faith, pp. 142-143)

“In the Magnificat, Mary isn’t merely making a birth announcement….
Instead, Mary’s holy hymn of praise, Mary’s trumpeting of the Good News,
seems breathtaking in its bravado: she declares the inauguration of a new kingdom,
one that stands in stark contrast to every other regime—past, present, and future—
that relies on violence and exploitation to achieve greatness.

Mary proclaims, as should we, that God has indeed chosen sides.

And it’s not with the powerful but with the humble.
It’s not with the rich but with the poor.
It’s not with the occupying force but with people who are occupied and oppressed, disregarded and disempowered.
It’s not with vain, narcissistic kings but with an unwed, unbelieved teenage girl
entrusted with the holy task of birthing, nursing, and nurturing God. (Evans, p. 143)

Mary’s Son is born into a world far from perfect, coming to love a people
ho are fickle and fragile.
Sadly, some miss the message of Christmas thinking when they finally have
their life together, when they have become “perfect,” then God will love them.
But Mary’s Son comes to us to love us as we are—that is the power of the Incarnation.

Like a mother, God is not going to wait until we are full-grown in our faith and
mature in our love before loving us, but instead simply loves us as we are.
God loves us because we are his, we belong to Him.

In Christ Jesus, born of Mary, we have become his adopted sons and daughters.

Can we live during this new year from this our truest identity,
of being beloved sons of daughters in Christ?

Because if we choose to do so, if we choose to live as beloved by God,
we will be able to love others as they are, with Jesus’ help.

Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi