Thursday, December 27, 2018

Advent 4 Cycle C: Theotokos

   I have to admit my intention on this homily was a bit ambitious. Condense the whole of Mariology in an 8 minute homily. As you might expect I have to leave quite a bit out, so some of what I left out is serves to clarify the main point I made. So instead of just publish the homily I added some of what I left out for completion. These parts will be in [BOLD]
   As important as the Blessed Mother is for Catholics when it comes to preaching about the Mother of God, we really don’t have  many chances to do this during the regular Sunday masses. This is why when we have readings in which she takes a primary role I like to grab the opportunity to reflect on who she is and on her importance in the history of our salvation.
   So today I decided to give you a bit of a catechism refresher on the mother of Jesus. The first thing I should point out is that if you call yourself a Christian (Not just a Catholic) by necessity, you are required to believe 4 things about the mother of Jesus. These things are not optional, you are required to accept these 4 truths even if we do not understand them or even can explain what they mean. Not because we need to have blind faith in what the Church teaches us but because if we do not believe these 4 thing about her we are saying that we do not believe that Jesus is who he revealed himself to be, The Son of God, The Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity.
  Early in the history of the Church, the Fathers realized that without Mary we can not understand Jesus. In fact, in the gospel of Luke, right after the reading I just proclaimed today, Mary herself tells us that we can gain a greater, more deeper understanding of who God really is through her. And  I’m referring to the first words of what we known as the Magnificat in which she state  “My soul magnifies the Lord”. Simply put,  Mary is the lens by which we can gain a deeper understanding of Jesus.
    Now Catholics call these four things every Christian has to believe about Mary: the Four Marian dogmas and they are as follows:
1) Mary was conceived without sin, which reveals to us Jesus complete freedom and power to save anyone at any time, even at the moment of their conception. [There is also a more practical reason why this dogma. By being born without sin, we are saying that Mary was not subjected to our  human tendencies towards sin, what St Augustine referred as Concupiscence. This protected Jesus holiness as a Jewish boy who was subjected to the will of his earthly parents by way of the 4th commandment. If Mary suffered concupiscence (Like we all do) What would prevent her from ordering Jesus to use his divine power to accomplish her own selfish desires?]  2) Mary was a virgin her whole life even after the birth of her son; which reveals to us how at the moment of the incarnation, at the union of created matter and divine power, divinity doesn't destroy or damage mater but elevates it to a special place in creation. A place reserved only to those things wish are pure, without blemish, things which are separated exclusively for God’s own purposes. [Jesus elevated human dignity to a special level by appropriating for himself a human body, Mary's. He used her flesh to generate the extra genetic material required for a human child to be conceived. It can be shown very easily how whenever God takes created matter for his purposes he uses the best materials available and then these remain at higher state of dignity. Just read how the arc of the covenant was built and teared] 3) Mary’s assumption into heaven which speaks to us about the complete humanity of her divine son; which compels him,  like every other loving human son, to take His mother with him to share his own glorified state. The same state we are all going to achieve after the resurrection of the dead.[If Jesus was completely human then, like any loving son he would want for his mother to share in his glorified state, anything less will make Jesus  a worst son than other normal human son] 4) And  Mary the Theotokos, the God bearer, the Mother of God which speaks to us about the complete divinity of her human son, which makes her the one human person who bears, brings to us the Second Person of God in the most human way, by been His very human mother.
  Of these 4 dogmas 3 are about events in her life, events God uses to show us to what extent he is willing to go in order to get closer to us, so close that he becomes one of us. The fourth dogma clarifies to us who she is because of whom Jesus is.
  In today’s readings we see that Mary was not just another Jewish girl, in fact back on the times of the prophets, they knew who this woman was. This is why we hear Micah say today: “Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time when she who is to give birth bears a son”. And back in the times of her cousin Elizabeth they knew this Jewish girl was going to have a very important role in the coming of the messiah.
   When Elizabeth realizes who Mary is, 3 times she calls her blessed   “Blessed are you among women,  and blessed is the fruit of your womb,”...” Blessed are you who believed”. The Jewish people thought that the mother of the Messiah was going to be a very unique and special person, and we can hear this in the angel’s greeting “Hail full of Grace The Lord is with you!” and we hear it in Elizabeth’s greeting: “And how does this happen to me,  that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
  Catholics sometimes are accused of giving Mary to much importance, I personally believe we do not give her enough attention. Without Mary there is no Jesus, no cross, no resurrection, and no Church. [Quite simply, without Mary's completely free 'yes' to the words of the angel, "She who is to give birth" would have never become pregnant, and with out this there is no Jesus. In God's plan, everything hinged on Mary's 'YES']
   In a couple of days we will be celebrating Christ birth, and once again we will relive the story of Christmas, God in the flesh a flesh which came from Mary’s most pure and most fertile womb. Let’s take this celebration as a chance to thank God for such a wonderful messiah who was born from such a wonderful and special woman.