This homily is based on Luke 2:16-21 on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
How do you mother God? Philosophers would be quick to point out that the question makes no sense. God would have no need for a mother: If God is infinite, He would have no beginning. And if He is all-powerful, He wouldn’t require anyone to nurse Him or raise Him.
Except, of course, that for us Christians, God decided to become human. And He didn’t just show up on the face of the earth as a self-reliant grown-up. God opted to go through the entire tedious process of becoming human so that He emerged in our world in much the same way each one of us does–as a helpless baby dependent on and in need of a mother.
Which makes you realize what an awesome–and frightening!–mission Mary had. She didn’t have the benefit of the Church’s insights into exactly who Jesus was. Our theological understanding of Jesus has been borne of centuries of the Church’s reflection and prayer. But Mary tried her best to make sense of the mystery before her anyway. We’re told that she “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart”, so she must have somehow sensed the great value of the Christ Child. Recalling the words of the angel, she must have discerned the gravity of her mission to be the mother of the “Son of the Most High”–even without fully understanding what it meant and what it would entail.
And the Gospels reveal to us exactly how she went about mothering Jesus. Because she had neither a manual to turn to nor a “Help” button to click, she basically fumbled her way through her task. She misunderstood her Son a lot, but precisely because she always nursed her experiences and reflected on them in her heart, she always found the needed openness and hope to discover exactly what was asked of her. After all, this business of mothering God is neither a science nor an art that one can master, but a mystery that one can at best discern and surrender to.
The Virgin of Guadalupe has always been a favorite Marian image of mine because of all of Mary’s different images, it portrays so well what it means to mother God. Not only does is this Mary heavy with the child in her womb, but her hands are clasped in prayer and her eyes seem swollen–perhaps as much from tears as from straining to discern and make sense of what lies before her.
Today, this first day of this new decade, we are invited by the Church to learn from the Mother of God. We are also asked to do as she did: Not only to say “yes” to God’s invitations to us this new year, whatever they may be, but even more specifically, to mother God: God not in His infinite and divine vastness, of course, but God as incarnate in the people in our world today who find themselves helpless and in need of mothering. They are many and they are all around us.
Like Mary, we are furnished with no blueprint. The only way to mother God in His people is through the way of Mary: To agree to allow ourselves to be led by the mystery, and to fumble after it with openness, yes,–but always, with hope.
7 replies on “HOW DO YOU MOTHER GOD?”
Thank you Fr. J. Mother Mary always inspires a stronger faith, an enduring hope and a deeper love!
A blessed New Year and a prosperous 2020 to you and your ministry.
Thank you for an amazing reflection!
Looking forward for more this year and this decade of hope. God Bless! O:-)
I love this, Fr J. It resonated and inspired. We are all heavy with expectation for the new decade. May we imitate our mother, prayerfully anticipating the gifts and lessons that are sure to come, but with unshakable faith in God’s love for each of us and for all of creation.
Maraming maraming salamat Fr. J. This reflection reminded me of how we should try to be a little ” MARY” by giving “birth” to JESUS in the midst through actions done out of LOVE.
Happy New Year, Fr Johnny! 2016 was marred with misfortune both on my family and personal life but despite all these I thank God for making us through the new year! Your reflection on the solemnity of the Blessed Mother gave me hope and strength to face the new year with vigor in overcoming whatever obstacle there may be so long as I have faith and keep this faith alive that Our Almighty God will always be there for me and my family! Thank you, Father Johnny
Thank you Fr J for an inspiring and meaningful reflection on the Solemnity of of Mary, Mother of God. A better way to welcome 2017 is by allowing ourselves to fully embrace God’s plan in our lives with faith even when what lies ahead of us is yet to be seen just like Mother Mary. God bless and have a joyous new year.
Happy new year, Fr. J. What a beautiful beginning of a year–to reflect on the job of the proto-female, MOTHER. The eye bags say it all.