Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

[I’m on vacation, but I am covering one Sunday Mass. This homily will be preached at St. Joseph Church in Lake Linden, Mi.]

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. In many ways, today’s Solemnity is the most important Solemnity that we celebrate in honor of Our Lady. All of the other extraordinary graces and privileges that were bestowed upon Our Blessed Mother were bestowed upon her precisely because she was to be the Mother of the Eternal Son of God made Man. Mary was preserved from all stain of sin at her Immaculate Conception because Our Lord and God was to take His human nature from her and dwell within her womb for nine months. Mary had to be perfectly preserved from all stain of sin in order for her to be a worthy dwelling place for the all-holy Son of God. The Immaculate Conception is necessary when we consider the absolute holiness of the Eternal Son of God Who became Incarnate within her; it also simply makes sense if we stop and think about it: if you were all-powerful and all-wise and you had the opportunity to create your own mother, would you not make her perfect in every way; would you not bestow upon her the greatest gifts imaginable? Of course you would. And Jesus Christ is God: He is all-powerful and all-knowing; and He in fact did create His own Mother and He did bestow upon her many extraordinary gifts: one of them being the gift of preserving her from all sin right from the very first moment of her existence: right from her conception in the womb of her mother Saint Anne.

The Assumption and the fact that Our Lady reigns in Heaven as Queen follow from that most intimate relationship that existed between her and Our Blessed Lord: while on earth they shared that intimate relationship between Mother and Son. No one loves Jesus as much as Mary, His Mother. As His Mother, Mary shared in an absolutely unique way in her Son’s mission on earth. When Mary presented her Son in the Temple Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce her soul. And a sword did pierce her Immaculate Heart: as she stood by Our Lord as He hung upon the Cross for us. As Jesus defeated sin and death upon the Cross, Mary stood at His side and united the suffering that she endured in her heart to His suffering for the redemption of the world. Mary cooperated in our Redemption: she gave Our Savior the human nature that He would offer to the Father upon the Cross, and she shared in His Passion as the sword of suffering pierced her maternal heart. The early Christian writers (known as the Church Fathers) saw in the Blessed Virgin Mary the New Eve: just as Saint Paul spoke of Christ as the new Adam. Saint Paul explains that the entire human race lost God’s friendship as a result of the disobedience of Adam, but through the obedience of Christ, access to God was once again made possible. Adam stretched out his hand to a tree in disobedience and as a result sin and death entered the world; Our Lord stretched out His hands on a different kind of tree, upon the Cross, and conquered sin and death. The Church Fathers further point out that Adam was not alone: Eve, too, played her part in the Fall. Eve was led into temptation by the instigation of a fallen angel, the devil, and said “No” to God. Mary, at the invitation of the Archangel Gabrielle, said “Yes” to God, and thereby became of the Mother of the Savior of the world. In order to redeem us from sin and death the Eternal Son of God became one of us, like us in all things except for sin; in order for Him to assume our human nature, Mary had to cooperate with the will of God: she had to say “Yes”; Mary cooperated with God’s plan in bringing about our Salvation by allowing Our God to become one of us in the Incarnation. Our Lady cooperated with Our Lord in our redemption and now she continues to be at His side in Heaven; she is already receiving the reward of her fidelity. As she shared uniquely in Our Lord’s Passion, so too, she now shares uniquely in His glory. The Church teaches us that Mary was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory at the end of her earthly life. This, also, is a teaching that makes sense when we think of it in terms of our own experience. Mary loves Jesus more than anyone: she is His Mother; why wouldn’t Our Lord give this privilege to her? Wouldn’t you give your mother such a gift if you were able to do so? Why would Our Lord do less for His Mother?

For Our Lady, her divine Motherhood is the cause of all of the other countless graces and blessings that she received; and those graces were not for her alone. The graces that she received were for our good as well: Mary’s divine maternity is the source of grace and salvation for us, because through her we received the Author of all grace Himself. Mary cooperated with God in His plan of Salvation when she consented to be the Mother of Our Lord and God, and she continues to intercede for us from Heaven. Our Lord chose Mary to be His Mother and He gave Her to us to be Our Mother as well. Let us rejoice this day for all the many blessings and benefits bestowed upon Our Blessed Mother; and as we begin this New Year, let us renew our confidence in her to obtain for us all that we need from Her Divine Son. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.