Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. January 1, 2020.
Nm 6:22-27; Gal 4:4-7; LK 2:16-21
Sharing in Mary’s invincible faith today
Bishop Midyphil Billones, an auxiliary Filipino Catholic bishop of Cebu, recently gave a homily in which he shared an inspiring story of his crisis of faith some years ago and how he recovered his faith. His father and two siblings had passed away many years ago and he was left alone with his aged mother. When his mother fell sick, Bishop Billones begged God fervently to spare his mother’s life but she eventually died. He related how the death of his mother was the last straw that killed his faith and prayer life.
“It was really painful when my mother died. Because of that, I stopped praying, especially the rosary. I stopped praying the rosary because Mary left my mom. She (Mary) turned her back on me.”
He still persevered in his hectic duties as seminary rector though he felt so distant from Jesus and Mary and his faith was wavering.
His faith was miraculously brought to life in the most unexpected of places – a traffic jam in the middle of Manila. While trying to find a way through the traffic gridlock, he found himself stuck on a side street and noticed a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary on a gate with these words written on it, “Am I not here who am your mother?” He described the effect of these words on Him:
“I cried because of pain, because of my sense of loss. I did not really grieve my mother’s death because I have to be strong and I have a lot of work. But I was so ashamed of the thoughts that I felt she (Mary) did not care, and on top of everything, I cried because I learned that she did not leave me.”
He experienced inner healing that day. He concluded, “The Blessed Mother saw and brought me back into the heart of God. Believe it or not, the next day I started praying again.”
At the moment of his crisis in faith, he providentially looked closely at Mama Mary, saw her as his mother who loved him, accepted her as his faithful mother, and his faith in Christ was renewed. When we too look at Mary as our Mother, our faith in Jesus Christ is renewed and strengthened no matter what we are going through in life.
St. Paul writes to the Galatians, “God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we may receive adoption as sons.” In the eternal divine plan, Jesus Christ, “the only Mediator between God and man,”(1Tim 2:5) was mediated to us through Mary – precisely through the Yes of Mary’s faith at the moment of the Annunciation, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.” What a faith! She believed that she, a mere creature, would be both virgin and Mother of her God and Creator!
Through the faith-filled Yes of Mary to God’s mysterious plan and her fidelity to her Yes to the very end, the greatest event in the history of humanity took place – God became man in her womb so that man could no longer be a hopeless slave but become a true child of God, filled with the Holy Spirit and enabled to cry out to God, “Abba, Father.” This is why Mary is not just Mother of God; she is also truly Mother of all God’s children, mother of all those redeemed by the blood of her Son, Jesus Christ, and called to belong to God’s family.
In the divine plan, Mary did not only mediate Jesus to us, but she also mediates to us faith in Jesus Christ. Her relative Elizabeth looked at her and came to faith in the lordship of the God-man within Mary’s womb and Mary’s divine motherhood, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” The servants at the wedding of Cana obeyed Mary’s counsel, “Do whatever He (Jesus) tells you,” and they too “started to believe in Him” after the water had become wine. Mary brings Jesus to us, she leads us to Jesus, and she gives us a share in her own strong faith in Jesus Christ.
Mary mediated faith in Jesus Christ throughout her earthly life and she is doing so today too for those who are humble enough to look to her with love and esteem of our Mother. If she can and she did mediate to us Jesus, the “Author and perfecter of our faith,”(Heb 12:2) she is surely more than able to mediate spiritual blessings to us, especially the gift of faith.
The shepherds who went to the manger found “Mary and Joseph and the infant lying in a manger.” Mary is inseparable from Jesus Christ, being present wherever He is. St. Louis De Montfort put it this way: “Jesus is still as much as ever the fruit of Mary.” Mary is with Him in Bethlehem, Nazareth, during the exile in Egypt, and even in the moment of His agony and death on the cross where her faith kept her standing in agonizing vigil as her son died for us to become children of God. She is also mysteriously present wherever the grace of Christ is present. This is the invincible faith that Mary longs to communicate to those who approach her as their mother.
As we pray for peace in our world today, we are reminded that peace begins when we choose to take seriously our vocation as children of God. By the gift of faith, we know God as our loving Father and look at others as our brothers and sisters to be accepted, loved, and cherished. As children of God too, we acknowledge that we also have a Mother, Mary, who communicates to us the life of faith and grace of God. How can we be children of God if we lack faith in a personal God who loves and cares for us to the point of being with us always? How can we have such a faith if we do not know and love our mother Mary who longs to share that faith with us? In short, what type of children are we if we do not know and love our mother?
Let us thank God for the gift of faith and for the grace to enter this New Year with faith. Many who began 2019 with a strong faith have lost their faith for several reasons. Our faith has survived all the painful personal experiences, trials, persistent sins, and distressing situations of the past year. Our faith has survived the many painful and unending scandals in the Church this year, the doctrinal confusion in the Church and the embracing and promoting of Pachamama cult among the hierarchy who ought to be the guardians of the faith. We thank God for the triumph of our faith over all these things in the last year.
We also prepare for the challenge of the New Year and the moments when our faith will be put to test. We must have hope because the moment that Jesus was meriting faith for us on the cross was the moment that He also gave His mother to us, “Behold your mother.” Jesus does not give us superfluous gifts. He knows that our faith in Him will be continuously tested and that looking at Mary as our mother will surely renew and strengthen our faith. Let us do what the beloved disciple did, “He took her (Mary) to his home.” Let us likewise take Mary into our hearts as our beloved Mother to be loved, depended upon, and imitated so that we can share in that her faith that makes us God’s beloved children and unworthy beneficiaries of His abiding peace.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!