Homily for The Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

And Mary kept all these things, reflect­ing on them in her heart.

What does it mean to be the moth­er of God? How do you become the Moth­er of God? What does that even mean?

Let’s start with what we mean when we say, “the Moth­er of God.” Mary, a girl prob­a­bly from Tzip­pori, near Nazareth, was born in the first cen­tu­ry BC and was a Galilean Jew. She was the daugh­ter of Joachim and Anne. She was betrothed to Joseph but before they lived togeth­er – as a vir­gin – she con­ceived by the pow­er of the Holy Spir­it and, in Beth­le­hem, gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God and the Third Per­son of the Holy Trin­i­ty. Jesus if ful­ly God and ful­ly man.

As Jesus is God, Mary – His moth­er – is the Moth­er of God, the Theotokos, the most mer­i­to­ri­ous saint and a woman unique­ly select­ed for the role of Moth­er of God since before time began. When we say Mary is the Moth­er of God, we affirm Mary’s moth­er­hood of Jesus and Our Lord’s sta­tus as ful­ly God. To deny either is heresy, so don’t do that, Mary is the Moth­er of God.

And how did Mary become the Moth­er of God? It’s not like that’s a job that shows up in the news­pa­per. No, she was select­ed by God and her­self immac­u­late­ly con­ceived through the mer­it of Jesus Christ to pre­pare the way for Christ: to pre­pare the per­fect taber­na­cle to hold Our Lord before His birth at Beth­le­hem. But beyond select­ed, she agreed; that’s very impor­tant. She agreed know­ing that there could and would be con­se­quences.

What if Joseph didn’t accept that the child was from God? What if she was stoned to death for being an unwed moth­er? What if she was reject­ed and dri­ven away from her home? The list of what-if’s goes on and on. But Mary didn’t do a cost-ben­e­fit study. She didn’t make a list of pros and cons. She didn’t even hes­i­tate as long as it has tak­en me to describe this brief out­line of what she had to fear if she agreed.

She agreed. And why? Because she trust­ed in God. Mary believed in God’s good­ness and she trust­ed in His prov­i­dence. God asked; she agreed, because that is what you do when you have the right rela­tion­ship with God. You fol­low what he has planned for you.

And that, real­ly, is a very impor­tant les­son we can learn from Mary: God calls all of us to fol­low the path He has laid out for us. We should all strive to be like Mary and fol­low that path with­out hes­i­ta­tion, with­out stop­ping to weigh the pros and the cons, and – most impor­tant­ly – with­out fear. God has a plan for each an every one of us, and that plan is what is absolute­ly best for us. No one of us can come up with a bet­ter plan than what God has already made. I promise you that.

And how do we know what God is call­ing us to? Well, we could wait for the Archangel Gabriel to show up and tell us direct­ly. But that could be a long wait. Besides, you don’t real­ly want an Archangel show­ing up at your house and pro­claim­ing God’s mes­sage to you direct­ly; that’s ter­ri­fy­ing. I don’t care what you may have seen in the movies or on tv, scrip­ture makes clear that encoun­ters with the angel­ic are fright­en­ing.

A far less fright­en­ing way is this: lis­ten. If that doesn’t work, then lis­ten bet­ter. Put away the phone, turn off the tele­vi­sion and the radio, park the car. Skip the Chiefs’ game. Sur­round your­self with qui­et and with still­ness. Take time – take as long as it takes – and real­ly, real­ly lis­ten. Put your­self in the pres­ence of God and be ready to hear Him.

Lis­ten­ing can start with prayer, and it should. Let me give you an exam­ple: in the months before I was ordained a dea­con, I was won­der­ing how to be the best dea­con I could be. Not the best dea­con in the world; just the best I could be. I knew God was call­ing me to the dia­conate, but I didn’t real­ly know what came next… what would hap­pen after my nose hit the mar­ble and the bish­op ordained me.

So I was sit­ting here in the church in ado­ra­tion before the Blessed Sacra­ment and I asked sim­ply this: “God, how can I be the best dea­con I can be?”

Then I stopped talk­ing. I didn’t offer sug­ges­tions. I didn’t think about what oth­er dea­cons do. I didn’t pon­der the pos­si­bil­i­ties. I shut up, and I wait­ed. And that time I didn’t have to wait long, though that is not always the case. God gave me an answer, just as clear­ly as if it had been deliv­ered by an Archangel. It wasn’t the answer I expect­ed; it wasn’t an answer I under­stood imme­di­ate­ly. Like Mary, I had to keep God’s answer in my heart and pon­der it, strug­gling with it until I under­stood what God was telling me. And I am still in a process of com­ing to under­stand.

And what did God tell me? That’s not the impor­tant part here; this isn’t about me. The answer I received is not the answer you will receive any more than the ques­tion I asked is the ques­tion you will ask. The vital thing is to ask, and to be ready to hear the answer. And, like Mary, to say ‘Yes’ to God, who desires only good things for us.

We all have a call­ing and a mis­sion. Mary was called to be the Moth­er of God. I am called to a min­istry of ser­vice. Per­haps you know what you are called to; per­haps you are still dis­cern­ing. Regard­less, it is good to check in – even if you do know – and to take time with God and to just ask, and to be ready to wait and lis­ten for the answer… to be ready to be giv­en the next step, the next mis­sion, the next goal, the next assign­ment.

Final­ly, devel­op a rela­tion­ship with Mary. Pray with her. Ask her to inter­cede for you, to help you become a mod­el of Chris­t­ian virtue: of puri­ty, chasti­ty, and obe­di­ence. Ask her to show you how to trust in the Lord not just as far as feels safe, but total­ly… to trust in God not as far as soci­ety approves, but com­plete­ly. Be wild. Be a rad­i­cal: just like Mary.

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