Hello everyone. I know my posting has been a bit disappointing this week. It’s the week before Christmas and I have written nothing heralding the coming of the Christ Child. My apologies, but truth be told, I’ve been sick as a dog since Tuesday (my fever finally broke last night). The past 48hrs. have been miserable – with my throat as raw as a razor, the shivers and chills, and that feeling of a bowling ball rolling around in my stomach – and it has all given me some food for thought about Christmas. Please allow me to share one of the thoughts which came to me as I coughed and dozed.
What hit me most profoundly, in these past 48hrs. of misery, was the sheer kindness of my mother. Now we all know how kind mothers can be (except of course when we are naughty – then her darker side emerges). A mother’s kindness seems to be in her very blood, a fruit of her vocation, and this kindness is made manifest most especially when her children take ill. She makes concessions that she would not be normally inclined to make and indeed does everything possible to ensure a speedy recovery for her children. She gives of herself without reserve and when it seems that she is completely exhausted, she still vigilantly listens to her children’s sniffles and coughs, always ready to come running when she hears their cries.
Now let us apply this perception of motherhood – a motherhood affected by Original Sin – to a motherhood not affected by Original Sin.
Consider for a moment our Blessed Mother, the Holy Virgin Mary. We, her children, had taken ill with sin. In the fullness of time, in the plan of Almighty God, she gave birth to the Great Physician and Remedy of this illness of sin – our Lord Jesus Christ. The mystery of His Incarnation and Redemption brought about our ultimate healing. It was deemed from all eternity that this intervention of healing grace would require the cooperation of a woman – a mother.
Now ponder some of the concessions that our Blessed Mother made in order to carry out the will of God. For starters, she knew that she was putting her very earthly life on the line, with her Fiat, her “yes,” to God’s plan presented through the Angel Gabriel. Her reputation was that of a “good girl”; Mary embodied the model character of a Jewish virgin. Friends and family also knew that she was betrothed to Joseph and, though they were not yet living together, they were nevertheless still bound by the laws of marriage. Mary understood that should she be caught with child, the worst case scenario would be that the townsfolk would drag her to the city gate and stone her to death. And even if they did not decide to stone her, the townsfolk and neighbors of our Blessed Mother would have most certainly alienated her and made life as difficult as possible for her. Yet, she still said yes to God.
Holy Mary almost lost Joseph too. Recall, Joseph being a righteous man was considering divorcing her quietly, in order not to bring any more shame upon her. Such was his intention when the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and conveyed to Him that the Child whom Mary was carrying was not the product of any earthly father, but the very Son of God Himself. And with God’s grace, Joseph too said yes to God, a yes to a plan he did not understand (Mt. 2: 18b-25).
It must be understood that Mary was a real human. We cannot forget that she too suffered what we suffer, and thus she understands our pain. Consider the morning sickness, the nausea, the exhaustion and the pain which accompanied her pregnancy with Jesus. Mary experienced these sufferings just as every other woman experiences them in pregnancy. Yet she still said yes to God.
Finally, consider the greatest concession, the greatest sacrifice which our Blessed Mother was asked to make. Mary understood that her Son had come into the world to bring fullness of life and redemption. The Blessed Mother understood the scriptures and her role as mother of the Savior. She knew that she could not hang onto Jesus forever, as indeed she did not. Just three short years after seeing Him leave home, Mary stood beneath His cross, and watched her Son die in agony and the last drops of His Precious Blood fell from His veins for the Salvation and Redemption of our souls. Mary united her pain and suffering to that of Christ her Son, fully cognizant that such sacrifice was essential for the salvation of souls. Her sacrifice and His were requisite for our healing. Yet she still said yes to God.
Mary, our Blessed Mother, was fully aware of the concessions that she was being asked to make. Indeed her mind and will were not tainted by the effects of Original Sin, she understood fully that her cooperation was essential to humanity’s healing. Our Blessed Mother said yes to God by living a sinless life. That yes resounded from earth to Heaven as she gave her Fiat to the Angel Gabriel. Mary’s yes continued to echo throughout her steadfast support of her Son’s ministry. Finally, as Christ hung on the cross, His last words to her were one last request, a call to be a mother to John, and indeed to all humanity: and again she said yes. Despite the suffering and pain, she still said yes to God.
In these final few days, these last hours before we celebrate the Birth of Christ, perhaps the best way we can prepare our hearts for the arrival of this Child of hope and healing, is to ask Our Mother Mary for the grace to say yes each and every time He calls, just as she always has.