Saturday, January 1, 2011

Truly the Mother of God

Mary has given birth to a King whose name is everlasting; hers the joy of motherhood, hers the virgin's glory. Never was the like seen before, never shall it be seen again, alleluia.
(antiphon from the Office of Readings today)
She is beautiful. She is alive. She is in Heaven with her Divine Son. She is the Mother of God, and our mother as well. Today we honor her on this first day of this New Year. St. Athanasius, the great defender of the mystery of the Incarnation, had this to say about her:

The Word (that is Jesus) took to himself the sons of Abraham...and so had to be like his brothers in all things. He had then to take a body like ours. This explains the fact of Mary’s presence: she is to provide him with a body of his own, to be offered for our sake. Scripture records her giving birth, and says: She wrapped him in swaddling clothes. Her breasts, which fed him, were called blessed. Sacrifice was offered because the child was her firstborn. Gabriel used careful and prudent language when he announced his birth. He did not speak of “what will be born in you” to avoid the impression that a body would be introduced into her womb from outside; he spoke of “what will be born from you,” so that we might know by faith that her child originated within her and from her.

By taking our nature and offering it in sacrifice, the Word was to destroy it completely and then invest it with his own nature, and so prompt the Apostle to say: This corruptible body must put on incorruption; this mortal body must put on immortality. This was not done in outward show only, as some have imagined. This is not so. Our Saviour truly became man, and from this has followed the salvation of man as a whole. Our salvation is in no way fictitious, nor does it apply only to the body. The salvation of the whole man, that is, of soul and body, has really been achieved in the Word himself. What was born of Mary was therefore human by nature, in accordance with the inspired Scriptures, and the body of the Lord was a true body: It was a true body because it was the same as ours. Mary, you see, is our sister, for we are all born from Adam.

Dearest Mother of God, pray for us and keep us close to you all the days of this year!

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