Jan. 1, 2018

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God


Three-year-old Alexa was saying her prayers with her mother: “Mommy, did Jesus say his prayers with his mommy every night?” Her mother responded, “I suppose so.” Alexa quickly added, “What did he pray for?” Her mother whispered, “He probably said thanks like you do!” Alexa said, “Did he thank God for his mommy?” Her mother replied, “Oh I think so. If his mommy didn’t say ‘yes’ to the angel, Jesus would not be here.” Then Alexa, satisfied with her mother’s answer, said, “Then I want to pray for Jesus’ mommy too, for bringing me Jesus.” And so, she prayed.

Alexa learned quickly that Mary played a major role in salvation history. After God made the universe and fashioned humankind in his image and likeness, God decided to become flesh. The angel Gabriel asked Mary if she would be willing to help God. Giving Mary this choice placed the all-powerful God at the mercy of Mary, a human being!

Mary had the opportunity to refuse the angel by saying “no.” Instead, Mary, a humble peasant girl from a little-known place in the world, heard the angel’s words in her heart, and she heard another voice whispering, “Mary, will you let my will be done?” Mary uttered her reply with words God longs to hear from all his creatures, including us: “Here is your servant, Lord, may your kingdom be born through me.”

With Mary’s fervent response, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus became man! With her simple and powerful “yes,” Mary gave her body to be a place for God’s son. Mary became the Mother of God, and our mother too!

Alexa is correct! Christians owe Mary an enthusiastic thank you for bringing Jesus into our world, our hearts and our lives. Through time, God recalls Mary’s enthusiastic reply and longs to hear every baptized Christian utter Mary’s tender consent: “Oh my God also take my body to do your will.” Today, Mary longs to hear these same words from us as well.

Homily Helps for the December issue were written by FATHER RICHARD R. DE LILLIO, OSFS, D. Min., an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, who is a recently retired associate professor of homiletics at The Catholic University of America.