By Fr. Ric Chinchilla, CJM
Let us give ourselves a space to be surprised by the mystery revealed in the love of God in the nativity, and then worship Jesus in the Blessed arms of Mary, the Mother of God, who presents him now to the world.
Let's examine some episodes of Mary's life; they can illuminate our understanding of the Mother of God.
Jesus is born in humility. The arms of his holy Mother are his throne (Luke 2, 6-7)
The manger setting is not spectacular; consider that Mary is not wearing a beautiful gown ready to immortalize the moment with a picture. They are in a manger; she must be exhausted but proud after the labor pains that every Mother has to go through before she can hold her baby in her arms.
The baby she holds in her arms has the same skin color as her, the shape of his eyes might be similar to those of Mary, it's a beautiful baby, but beyond the physical resemblance, Mary knows something profound. She is holding God in her arms. Keeping this reality alive in her heart will also keep her grounded in faith.
Luke told us that this marvelous gift happened under the reign of Emperor Augustus. He was the ruler of the known world and had Palestine politically subdued; he was ruthless at the least provocation. He carried the titles "prince of peace," "savior of the people," "guardian of order and well-being." By a divine contrast, the angels announced to the shepherds that the baby born in Bethlehem was "the Savior, the Messiah, and the Lord." He will significantly surpass those earthly titles in his life and ultimate sacrifice in the cross.
Mary, the Mother of God, will be a strong and courageous witness of these events with an emphatic "fiat" at every step of the way.
Unexpected visitors in the shepherds
In the Gospel of Luke, right after the annunciation, Mary visits Elizabeth in what will become a joyful spiritual celebration of an older woman and a young girl who believes what was told to her by the angel. Mary, young and courageous, a beautiful holly model for all the Christians who will be transformed by her Son's words.
And in the very same style, the shepherds, that very night could not contain the desire to share the good news shared by the angel. They find the holy family and relate to them what has been revealed to them by the angels.
Indeed, a confirmation that the will of God has begun its process; The shepherds, not esteemed in religious circles, are now the first ones to see the Mother of God holding the Savior in her arms, and they become the first ones to adore him.
The day she said yes.
Nine months before, she received a visit from an angel who revealed to her various things: He told her she was full of grace, that the Lord was with her, and that she could be the Mother of the Son of God whom she had to name Jesus (usually the father chooses the name for their child, but the angel had trusted her with this task).
If she accepted this mission, which gladly she did, it would be clear that it would not be for her honor. She will not receive any material benefit or title. With a joyful heart, she accepted to be the servant of the Lord so that the Lord Jesus may come into the world.
She was thrilled that the world would be receiving salvation. How wonderful! God himself, who has always showed the mystery of his identity through inaccessible light, made himself a gift to humanity, now can touch him, a gift to each of us; Mary would become the chalice to share him with the world.
Arms to hold, to protect, to share him to the world
Mary knows very well who he is, but she also knows that she is his Mother. Her hands will caress him, feed him, bathe him, comfort him, educate him with the utmost devotion. She will have to repeat some of these actions during a difficult moment when he will be brought down from the cross after his death by crucifixion. She will show the same devotion and fortitude as she tends for her Son, crucified broken bread, while she profoundly believes and knows that he is the true living bread.
When Mary held the dead body of Jesus, her faith didn't falter; she knew he was the way, the truth, and the life; her faith and love remained firm; she would continue to do what her Son told her (She listened to his words and put them into practice).
A heart full of divine love
In the episode of the presentation of Jesus in the temple, Mary met Simeon, who chanted his joy after seeing God's promise fulfilled in Jesus.
Right after his joyful chant about Jesus and the salvation he brings, he then told Mary that a sword would pierce her soul. She did not question this statement.
This detail was not present in the annunciation by the Angel Gabriel, but Mary is unfazed, shaken maybe, but with the definite conviction that God and her Son will always be her strength. She kept and meditated on all these things in her heart.
She knew already of this pain to come, but her embraces and care for Jesus will always contain all the love her heart could give. Jesus could become the reason for this "sword", but the love and connection with Jesus will be immensely stronger; it is with this love that she can take the sword in her soul and survive.
There many more inspirational biblical moments to reflect on Mary, the Mother of God. She is also our Mother and the Mother of the Church.
Mary Mother of God is not a serious stern looking being; she is joyful, loving, understanding. In the crucifixion Jesus entrusted us to her care, and lovingly she will always love us.
We are so blessed to have the one who is full of grace and love as our Mother.