UNBORN WORD of the day

January 1, 2008, 11:43 pm
Filed under: Mother of the Lord


The Church’s liturgical year began at the outset of Advent, but the Church takes special notice of the first day of the calendar year by having a special celebration feast day for Mary “the Mother of God”. Rather than focusing on New Year Resolutions or looking over our shoulders at the year that was, the Church considers the new beginnings we find in Mary’s life.

“The Lord has created a new thing on the earth” (Jer 31:22). What is this “new thing”? Yes, it will be a New Covenant. Yes, Mary will be the New Ark of the Covenant (carrying within her the living Son of God). But, generally we could say that this “new thing” is a New Dispensation of Grace, a New Era for human living – a New Time of Grace. And this New Era of Grace begins precisely in Mary!

Even before the Incarnation, this “new thing” is realized within the soul and heart of Mary. Theologians have called it “the Immaculate Conception”. We can also call it, more generally, Grace…special Grace upon Grace! In other words, God prepared the way of the Lord, not only prophetically in the ministry of John the Baptist, but also biologically and spiritually within the body and heart of Mary.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to her she was “ready” – as ready as God had made her. And the angel acknowledges this mystery of Grace in her by proclaiming first of all: “Hail, full of Grace, the Lord is with you!” (Lk 1:28) Now through the centuries there have been some differences concerning how to best translate this greeting by the angel. If I might be excused for saying so, in one way, it doesn’t matter. “Rejoice, most highly favored, the Lord is with you” is another rendering. We know for a fact that God had worked a singular miracle of preparation within the life, person, body, soul of this one uniquely favored woman to be “the Mother of God”.

So, she is the first human to experience this “new thing” which God was beginning in human history and she experienced it uniquely. Her heart had already been filled with Grace abundant as she stood before the angel that day! Next, her womb was filled with Grace overflowing in the One Cell newly conceived – in the Person of God’s only begotten Son! In accepting the “Gospel Message” of God’s messenger angel, she becomes the First Christian! In her incipient and prophetic experience of the New Grace of this New Era of Grace, she is the First among all humans, and leads the Way behind the Divine Child who leads us.

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