Christmas III Mother of God

Christmas III – Mother of God
2018 – Cycle ABC
Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 67; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21



Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

When we pray these words, we make the words of Archangel Gabriel our own as we speak to Mary of Nazareth.  We are thrown back in time to the moment of the Annunciation.  A moment that God had been waiting for to speak, not just to Mary, but to humanity; what scripture calls, “the fullness of time” [Galatians 4:4]I think of that moment when fruit is fully ripe and ready to be picked from a tree or when it is time for a parent to let go of the back of the bicycle and let their son or daughter pedal on their own.  Whatever day of the week it was.  Whatever time of the day it was.  It was the fitting and desirable moment, “the fullness of time”,  for God to speak through Gabriel.

Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

We continue our prayerful address by claiming the words of Elisabeth at the Visitation.  Two pregnant women encounter each other.  Does life leap within us when we pray these words as John leaped in the womb of Elizabeth?  As followers of Jesus, are we not pregnant with the new life of joy and hope as we encounter Mary?

Hail Mary becomes Holy Mary…

To be filled with grace, God’s life and favour, is what it means to be holy.   It is what you and I received at Baptism, a spirit of adoption as sons and daughters [See Galatians 4:4-7] and are called to renew that favour and grace through the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Mother of God…

Have you ever considered how radical those words are?   How does any woman give birth, provide a beginning, to the Being who has no beginning but is eternal?  We are so removed from the fifth century disputes within Christianity over that title that we take these words and their meaning for granted.   Have we ever reflected on the implications of that phrase, Mother of God?  Mary did not just give birth to the human Jesus of Nazareth but to him who is both human and divine.  Humans have beginnings and endings; we are born, live and die.  God is eternal and yet we believe that in Jesus, God is born in time and dies in the flesh that we might become eternal.

pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

We finally come to our own words; words of humble petition that Mary, who is favoured by God, who is blessed by God, who is holy and the birth giver of our God, speak to God on our behalf.  To speak on another person’s behalf…

Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah and God fully engaged him in conversation.  pray for us sinners…

After the impatient Israelites gave up on Moses and God at the base of Sinai causing them to create the golden calf to worship, Moses interceded for the people.  And God listened to his prayers and yielded, changing the divine judgement of punishment for their betrayal.  …pray for us sinners…

The prophet Elijah prayed for rain so as to end the drought that God had imposed on the sinful reign of King Ahab, Queen Jezebel and the people of Israel.  …pray for us sinners…

The governor, Nehemiah, the priest, Ezra and the prophet, Daniel all intercede before God for sins of Israel.  …pray for us sinners…

A Syro–Phoenician mother intercedes with Jesus for her daughter who is possessed by an unclean spirit. [Mark 8: 24-30]  …pray for us sinners, now…

Jairus, the synagogue official and father, intercedes for his daughter who is at the point of death.  [Mark 5:21-24; 35-43]  pray for us sinners, now…

Simon Peter and his brother, Andrew and their fishing associates James and John intercede with Jesus for Simon’s mother–in–law who lay sick with a fever. [Mark 1: 29-31]  …pray for us sinners, now…

The elders of the Jews intercede with Jesus for a Roman centurion, who in turn intercedes for his slave who is sick and about to die.  [Luke 7:1-10]   …pray for us sinners, now…

In John’s Gospel, Mary is portrayed standing with the other women at the foot of the cross as her Son dies.  Mary intercedes for the world.  [John 19: 25-27]  …pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

We arrive at the eighth day of Christmas and the first day of a new year.  We look back over our shoulders and reflect on what has been and its meaning as we look forward with anticipation and hope of what will be, what might be, what can be.  At the crux of those two movements past and future we stand in the present as the church places in our midst the Virgin Mother of God – Mary.  Mary who reflects in her heart as she is filled with the life of God.

Let us move forward in this Christmas season and into a new year in contemplation and hope. Amen.

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