On this New Year’s day as we reflect upon our past year and look forward to 2018 ahead, we also celebrate a very important Solemnity, the High Feast of Mary, Mother of God. Holy days of obligation have become fewer and fewer, but this remains for us one of those days as Catholics (Christmas is another and every Sunday), which also means that there is something very special and important that we celebrate during this day. Mary is an important Christian figure for us as Catholic Christians. As an “outsider” who became a Catholic, I too was one who once thought it was weird and archaic that Catholics “worshipped” Mary the way we do. My thought for today is not to argue that we do not; but we don’t. We respect her and give honour to her above all others for the role she plays as a “Christian before there was Christianity”, her tremendous generosity, her leadership, her example, her vocation!
If we don’t seek to understand, her title as Mother of God might confuse some, lead some to believe Our Lady herself was not fully a human being, because if God our Lord is fully divine and the uncreated Creator, how could He be born of a human being. Of course, we know that for in time (for all-time), for a purpose and for humanity (for each and every one of us) God became one of us in His Son, Jesus. He chose to be born into the world to experience every vulnerability we experience too. For that purpose, God chose to be born as we are born, from a mother.
He may have specially chosen His Mother, but He chooses ours too. In the last few years of my life, I give thanks to God each day for my own mother, and I will until I die. I know the Lord chose Lynda to be my mother, but I confess I would not have seen that without the eyes of faith; and I have not had the eyes of faith to see for almost 30 years of my life. I have spent the better part of my life judging my mother and seeing her for what she was not, rather than for what she indeed was, a gift to give thanks to God for, as we do Our Blessed Mother. My mother was very young when I was born into the world, nineteen years old. Older than Our Lady, but young in the standards of the world I was born into. She was pregnant with me only months after graduating high school. I never asked my mom whether or not she intended to keep me or not, but the thought has occurred to me as I reflect and pray that this very young woman, barely more than a girl, faced many issues when she brought me into this world. I know some of those challenges; the obstacles she faced, many of the family’s issues and demons, I know some of sad circumstances my mom (and dad too) faced bringing a child into the world. But I came into this world, and I can look back on this now, give thanks for my life that is for God and know that my mother is probably the person I should thank most for my life. And I do. Now I do.
My mother passed away 14 years ago, not long after my becoming Catholic and a year before I entered seminary. Though she died far too young (in my opinion) I am thankful that I had the opportunity in the few years before she died to appreciate her. My life truly changed and my faith really deepened when in addition to other things, I stopped focusing on the imperfections of my mother, and focused on what and who she was; a gift from God, a person trying her best like the rest of us. My mother did many, many things with her life I respected a great deal, but it was humbling to have her tell my sister and I that her greatest thing in life was to have brought us kids into the world. Not only has this been the source of my growing appreciation for my own mother, but it also helped me as a Catholic to deepen my own honour and respect for our Lady. Obviously in Mary, God Himself knew the important role she needed to play in loving, nurturing, teaching, mentoring His Divine Son throughout His earthly life – but since His life and what He was to do here was for all of humanity and for the whole world: so too was her life for the same.
As we begin a new year, may each and every one of do our Blessed Mother a favour. May we stop for a time and reflect upon our own mothers; if we were so inclined we could reflect upon her in ways such as I have, maybe even deeper and more profound ways but conclude by giving thanks to God for the gift of our own mothers; whom He chose for us, as He did His own mother. And may it lead us to honour Mary, not because she desires to be honoured, but because she deserves to be. And may we ask her to pray for us that she lead us always (as she desires to do and is doing) closer to her Beloved Son our Lord.