The flash of the fireworks is gone from the sky. That gaudy-glitzy ball has dropped. Noise-makers are silent, and punchbowls are empty. 2012 is officially underway. Thankfully, this is not the end of a mere night-long celebration, but the beginning of a time of grace. As we begin our new year, we celebrate the Feast of the Solemnity of The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. Today, we focus our admiration on the Blessed Mother and our gratitude on God, for His gift of Divine Maternity to the Blessed Virgin. We celebrate Mary as the Theotokos – the Mother of Son of God.
Antiphon 3 from the Vespers for today’s feast reads:
Your blessed and fruitful virginity is like the bush flaming, yet unburned, which Moses saw on Sinai. Pray for us Mother of God.
Christ was fully human and fully Divine. He did not just take up residence in the belly of the Blessed Virgin, or merely temporarily occupy available space. Rather, in His humility and wisdom, Jesus Christ willed that His very flesh and blood would be drawn from the Spotless Virgin. Mary was the Immaculate Tabernacle that He chose to house and form the substance of His humanity. Today, we celebrate this mystery which is beyond human comprehension. Tonight’s Vespers Antiphons express it so beautifully:
O marvelous exchange! Man’s creator has become man, born of a virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.
By your miraculous birth of the Virgin You have fulfilled the Scriptures: like a gentle rain falling upon the Earth You have come down to save Your people. O God, we praise You!
This is a moment of joy, of intense gratitude, and celebration. Together we rejoice the singular honor and privilege given to Our Lady, while we simultaneously celebrate our own share in Christ’s gift of grace.
What a fitting start to the new year! Today we recall the words of the Angel Gabriel to Mary, as he heralded her high calling. St. Gabriel greets Mary with: “Hail Full of Grace (Luke 1: 28).” Recall, the Greek word, kechatitomene (Kεχαριτωμένη) is scripturally used only here, and the connotation is that Mary is the one who is so replete with grace that not even the slightest shadow of darkness is present. Before St. Gabriel announces God’s salvific plan, which elicits Mary’s fiat, he first directs her to: “Fear not Mary, for you have found favor with God (Luke 1:30).”
Today as we embark on a new year, this message is profound. St. Gabriel is the messenger of God’s grace, and He well understands how overwhelming this pure Gift will be. “Perfect Love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).” It is only with this Love that Mary (and the rest of us) can complete the mission assigned by God. It is only by accepting the Gift of Pure Love, that – like Mary – we can say “yes” to God. The Angel Gabriel tells Mary that that the Divine Child, the Emmanuel Whom she is to bear, is to be named “Jesus.” This Child’s very name reflects His essence and means “God is with us!”
As 2012 dawns, we do well to remember that God is indeed with us. Just like Mary, we are told to “Be Not Afraid!” In fact, the admonition to “Be Not Afraid!” appears 365 times in the Bible! In nearly every book of the Bible we find those words. This new year is pregnant with possibilities. We have been given a great gift. 2012 will be full of joys and challenges. Yet, through it all God is indeed with us. In accepting His perfect Love, fear melts.
With Mary, let us rejoice in this new day, this new year.With hearts full of gratitude, let us turn to Our Creator, and through Mary, may we ask His Blessing upon this year. From the Divine Office together let us pray:
God Our Father, may we always profit by the prayers of the Virgin Mother Mary, for You bring us life and salvation through Jesus Christ her Son who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
A Blessed 2012 to you and yours!
Ad Jesum per Mariam