Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God – January 1, 2018
Saint Margaret Mary – Wichita, KS
Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21
Today, we celebrate Mary, the Mother God. This is a great and important fact of our faith: Mary is truly the Mother of God. In fact, this is one of the earliest titles given to Mary: Mother of God. And we could spend all evening discussing the theology of this; how this is possible, how a human can truly be the mother of God himself. Although we could do this, our readings draw our attention to something much more simple, much more human: they draw us to a gaze.
In our first reading, we hear that great blessing given to Moses by the LORD: “The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!” (Num. 6:24-26). Twice, twice this blessing reminds us of the most important fact: the importance of the LORD looking at us. Twice, this blessing asks that the Lord make his face shine on us and that he look with benevolence on us.
This sounds strange—focusing so much on the gaze of the Lord—but think about it! What is the number one thing we crave? Some people want money, or power, or pleasure, or honor. And yeah, those are great! But at the end of the day, what is it that we really want? We want to be seen. We want someone to see us, to recognize us, to know us. We want someone that, with a simple look, can change everything. We want a look that makes us feel extraordinarily seen. Think about it: we post pictures on Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat, hoping that we get a lot of likes, a lot of views. Why? Because we want to know that we are seen, that people see us. But not even that is enough. We crave the real thing! Because when someone looks at you, person to person, face to face—when someone really looks at you—this does more than anything else. It has the power to save you.
At the end of the day, we want a look that can save us. Sure, we want to see God, we want to experience the fullness of joy that comes from seeing him face to face. But, as Saint Paul reminds us, “That God looks at us is much more salvific than that we see him” (Balthasar, c.f., 1 Cor. 8:3). We crave that look from God himself.
This is what Mary experienced when she became the Mother of God. Remember her words to Elizabeth? “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, for he has looked with favor upon his lowly servant” (Luke 1:48). The Lord looked upon Mary, and from this look was born our salvation, was born Christ the Lord. And in turn, Mary is given to us as our Mother as well, to give us the look of her Maternal protection.
Remember the words of our Lady to Juan Diego: “Hear me and understand well, my little son, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.”