Advent is also a time to reclaim the Mother of God for all Christians. Not a goddess, nor a mere vessel, she is the one who bore the Word. She is like the holy of holies in the Temple–container of the uncontainable God. As the Hymn says:
O higher than the cherubim,
more glorious than the seraphim,
lead their praises,
Thou bearer of the eternal Word,
most gracious, magnify the Lord, Alleluia, Alleluia…
Thanks be to God that her ‘yes’ made possible our redemption!!
4 thoughts on “Mater Dei”
Amen! And her example is an example for us all…to yield ourselves completely to whatever God wants for us.
Great posts, Fr. Neo.
“My soul does magnify the Lord…
The Lord has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
The Lord has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree.
The Lord has filled the hungry with good things; and the rich God has sent empty away.”
-Mary, the original Radical Hippy Mamma
“The heavens cannot contain Him;
a woman held Him in her bosom.”
But this is an illusion. The apostle Paul tells us that things are getting better. God is building something special in the world. In Romans Paul tells us that there is a great mystery, hidden in ages past, but now made known and revealed through the prophetic writings. And this great mystery is that the funnel doesn’t stop with Mary and Jesus. It is with Mary and Jesus that another kind of funnel actually begins.
Imagine again that the funnel of God making His home with us is completed with Mary and Jesus. Now imagine that another funnel begins with Mary and Jesus, slowly getting broader and broader, spreading throughout the entire world. This funnel slowly spreads from Judea, to Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. This funnel is a community, the new Israel, the literal children of God, where God now makes His home. This new community understands that that there is no ordinary life, and that there are no ordinary people. This is a new people who have God living in their hearts. This people is the church.
The church is the mystery hidden for ages past, but now revealed in Christ. Though too many times it appears that our world is going to hell, the church shows us that there is a heavenly drama being played out, if we can just see it, where this world is getting better and better.
That drama, hidden in ages past but now revealed to everyone, centers on Jesus and Mary. From before the foundations of the world the Father chose humanity, and within humanity He chose a people, and from that people He chose a tribe, and from that tribe he selected a family, and from that family Mary gave birth to the Messiah. Mary and Jesus are the centerpiece of the drama. The funnel came down to Mary and Jesus.
But now, the funnel flows from Mary and Jesus. As the funnel gets wider and wider, God calls every tribe, and every race, and every people to become a part of His body, the church. The funnel will keep getting wider and wider, until Christ returns. That is the true story of Christmas. That is the mystery of the church. Our world is not a hopeless place. Christ’s body, the church is spreading through time and all over the world. That is good news.
And the Holy Spirit who is spreading the church in hope is the same Spirit who is working in our hearts, changing us into Christ’s image from one degree of glory to another, even if we are dealing with the same stuff we dealt with twenty years ago. We are all becoming more Christ-like, and that is good and hopeful news.
And that is why we return, every December, to the image of a mother giving birth to a child. As only the Eastern Orthodox can phrase it, so poetically, Mary, the centerpiece of both funnels, is both the mother of God, and, the mother of the church. On that most holy night, Mary gave birth to the Savior, and she gave birth to all those who would be saved. You and me. It is a great, and beautiful, mystery. If we can’t see it, at least a little bit, then we may have taken the blue pill, because this mystery of hope is what Christmas and everything else is all about.
In the movie The Matrix, when given the choice, Neo takes the red pill. His journey to comprehend the truth is a difficult one, and it takes him a while before he can distinguish truth from illusion. But, at the end of the movie it all comes together for Neo, and he sees reality, both truth and illusion, as it really is.
In this Christmas season, when truth and illusion get more mixed up than usual, may we all resist blue pill temptations to fall asleep, and may we have the courage to take the red pill and see God’s reality. And may we all feel the Christmas joy of knowing that we are extra-ordinary people, living an extra-ordinary life, in a world filled with extra-ordinary hope.