My favorite title for the Blessed Mother is Mary, the Honor of our Race. I know it’s hard to top the Mother of God, but I’m aiming at something a little less elevated. It conveys what I want it to convey, that she is one of our own, and by inference, she teaches us how to be fully human.
There is no Christmas without her. That says as much about God as it does about Mary. When it comes to these big initiatives, God never acts unilaterally. That’s a remarkable thing. He is, after all, God. He could do it any way he pleases, but he chooses to put himself at the mercy of a human response, makes himself dependent, as it were, on us opaque human beings.
When you survey the long history of his acting this way, you want to say, how’s that working out for you, God? As far back as our first human parents, according to the biblical account, the human response has been all over the map, but more often than not halting, if not downright negative. It’s not hard to imagine God having second thoughts about his modus operandi, wondering if there might not be a better way than counting on the fickleness of the human heart.
But, alas, Mary is the reward for God’s patience. In her God finds not only a body in which to dwell, but before that, a heart that is perfectly supple and receptive to God’s plan for her life. The scene before us, the visit of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, shows the effects of this decision on Mary’s part. It’s called joy. The Visitation is all animation: Mary rushing to see Elizabeth; the child in Elizabeth’s womb leaping for joy; Elizabeth loudly proclaiming the blessedness of Mary’s response. All that movement is expressive of the joy of anticipation, made possible by Mary’s placing her life at the service of God’s plan.
That’s the take-home. This is what Mary teaches us. Joy is not just serendipity. It is the fruit of a life given over to God’s service in which all of its disparate parts are unified in the one goal of glorifying God.
Photo source: Jump for Joy by Corby Eisbacher