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Mary, Mother of God
Mary, Mother of God
"The Lord bless you and keep you: the Lord make his face to shine upon you: the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace" (Numbers 6:24-26). Peace is the end of these six actions of God in which he turns towards us the splendour of his face.
The Gospel of Luke, asks us to contemplate the interior peace of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. During these days many unexpected things occurred: not only the birth of the Son but, even before, the tiring journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, not finding room at the inn, the search for a place to stay for the night; then the song of the angels and the unexpected visit of the shepherds. In all this, however, Mary remains even tempered, she does not get agitated, she is not overcome by events greater than herself; in silence she considers what happens, keeping it in her mind and heart, and pondering it calmly and serenely. This is the interior peace for which so many long amid the events and difficulties not just of the world but of our own lives, at work, in our families, even in our spiritual lives.
The joy flowing from contemplation
For sacred Scripture, contemplating the face of God is the greatest happiness: "Be gracious and bless us, Let your face shed its light upon us' we sing in the psalm. In the Old Testament, joy security and peace come from gazing on the face of God. In the New Testament that means through knowing Jesus, to know something of Gods interior life and his will, so that we can live according to God's love for us. Saint Paul says as much in that second reading when he describes the Spirit who, in our inmost hearts, cries: "Abba! Father!" God's Son made man, Mary's child Jesus has let us know the Father, he has let us know the hidden face of the Father through his visible human face; by the gift of the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts, he has led us to understand that, in him, we too are children of God, as Saint Paul says "The proof that you are sons is that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts: the Spirit that cries, 'Abba, Father'".
Here is the foundation of our peace: the certainty of contemplating in Jesus Christ the face of God the Father, of being sons in the Son, and so having, even in this life, the same security that a child feels in the arms of a loving and all-powerful Father.
Significance of today's feast
We gaze with Mary at the face of Jesus which is the face of God. But there is more. Today's feast of Mary the Mother of God proclaims that Mary is the Woman who is, as described in an ancient Eastern prayer, 'wider than the universe'; in the Alma Mater, Mary is 'tu quae genuisti natura mirante tuum sanctum genitorem' you who to the wonder of nature gave birth to your own creator. Mary the Mother of God held in her womb the one who the universe cannot contain. Mary's peace comes from both gazing at the face of her son, which is the face of God, but also from knowing and contemplating that she has carried God - the one than whom nothing is greater, the maker of heaven and earth, who cannot be measured or contained or comprehended, has dwelt within her.
But this is true also of the great Sacrament of the Altar. Of Holy Communion. The one than whom nothing is greater, the maker of heaven and earth, who cannot be measured or contained or comprehended, changes the bread, the little white wafer of bread, into himself. When we receive Holy Communion we, albeit for a moment, contain within ourselves the one than whom nothing is greater, the maker of heaven and earth, who cannot be measured or contained or comprehended, we receive Jesus, the Son of Mary the Mother of God.
Reflecting upon this we must ask our mother to help us to understand this wonder as she does, to respond as she does, and to experience the peace with which she is filled.