Thursday, January 01, 2009

Who is God's Mommy?

When we were young and questions rolled from our lips in long, curling arabesques about the earth and sky and our own origins, we may have once asked about one of the greatest mysteries - the mystery of God's origin. "Who is God's mommy?" the child whispers. And an answer may have come quite confidently; "God doesn't have a mommy. He always was..." For most of us, that response may have... a) perplexed us, b) sparked another question, or c) opened a wide road that seemingly had no end, and even now we may still be walking it. The answer, of course, is true..... and false. The infinite God certainly had no beginning. That would merely point to One greater than He, and that One would be God. We discover through philosophy (our reaching up), and through Revelation (His pouring down) that God is pure Spirit, the fullness of all Being, and source of all that has being. He is not bound in time and space, nor is He made in it. He makes it, lets it be. But in His love, the Author of all things chose to step into His own story, into time and space, and became one of us! On January 1st, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. To some, this title of Mary is an enigma. How can the immortal God have a mortal mother? Did God have a beginning? Again, the answer is no, and yes. God loves paradoxes. St. Paul says in the second reading for this great Solemnity that when the fullness of time had come, "God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons." (Gal 4:4-7) To some, it's scandalous to think that the Transcendent One should come into our world of flesh and bone and blood at all. But the Incarnation of Jesus, the Word of God becoming flesh, has shown us a great wonder, and cured us of a great wound: the wonder is that everything is holy now, for He has graced the world of air and water and earth with His presence; the wound was in our thinking that the two were ever really separate. So God is born of an earthly woman, and cared for by an earthly father. Why? His actions, as always, are teachers. God seeks to reawaken us to the beauty of the family. The family has from the beginning been part of His plan to make us whole, to show us Who He is, to give us a place to grow and to know and to love Him through others. St. Paul continues, "God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” This is the scandalous love of God, that we use such an intimate Aramaic phrase (literally daddy) to address Him! Even more, we honor the humble virgin Mary as His own Mother, and through adoption, as ours! Mary's motherhood of Jesus, Who is One with the Father, is a mystery that can only be known and lived in the heart. The paradox seems like a contradiction to the mind, but in the heart paradoxes fit. As the readings for this feast continue, we hear from Luke, who is believed to have taken much of his infancy narrative right from the lips of Mary herself. We find her taking with her gentle hands this great paradox of being the Mother of God and placing it in the sanctuary of her soul. Luke writes "And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart." And so should we. We need to return as well to a deeper appreciation of the family. Mother, Father, Son, Daughter. These are the titles of all of us. Each of us bears one of these names. These titles point with fingers of flesh and bone straight up and into the Transcendent Mystery of God Who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God, as Pope John Paul II has said, in His deepest identity is not a solitude, but a family! Our first steps on this road of self-discovery begin in the home; in that little pool of life that is our family. It's a communion of souls, always three (like a micro Trinity) or more, but it's sometimes splintered into fragments because of sin or circumstance, or both. In its pure form, it might resemble an upside down triangle; a man and a woman whose love rises up from a single point of contact, and forms a new plane of existence, and supports that new line with their lines outstretched in a selfless gift of love. Imagine a world of families like the Family that is God? “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” - Pope John Paul II Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for us and form us into true sons and daughters of God! May our families reflect the inner life of the Trinity, and glow with the warmth of your home at Nazareth.
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This post is featured on a new online journal called The Publican of Philadelphia. You can visit it here now!
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